Feminists, beware: Missouri may soon become the Clone-Me State. Rise up and stop it.
In Missouri this November, a misleading ballot initiative called Amendment 2 -- the "Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative" -- promises to "ban human cloning." In actuality, the referendum -- like earlier deceitful state measures in the likes of New Jersey and California -- would work to do just the opposite.
The Missouri doublespeak is all too commonplace in the cloning debate. By separating the concept of cloning for research purposes (a baby still comes out of the process, he or she is just killed before anyone can raise the child) from the "Dolly the Sheep" type of cloning (you let the clone be born), voters are fooled with the help of a willing or hopelessly ignorant news media.
The fact is, cloning by any other name is still cloning, and in Missouri, that's what Amendment 2 is all about. It also promises to exploit Missouri women.
Liberal feminists are not the first people you might think of to lead an anti-cloning fight, but they could be important leaders in this struggle. Cloning requires eggs. And women have to provide them.
There's an estimated $38 million market already in existence geared to make in-vitro fertilization possible. In an unpleasant process that includes prodding and surgery, egg "donors" are given hormones to ensure they produce more than the routine monthly amount of eggs -- more means a better shot at success. This largely unregulated industry has paid scant attention to the potential long-term harm from such hyperstimulation. As two bioethicists from Stanford pointed out last year in an article in "Science" magazine, at minimum women should be both made aware that risks include infertility and even death and that their "donations," in the case of embryonic-stem-cell research and cloning, may never actually contribute to a cure for anything.
When I went to a New Jersey fertility clinic on assignment a few years ago (after ads offering upwards of $35,000 in some college papers caught my eye), nearly everyone there at the egg "donating" information session was a college-age-range gal looking for some extra cash.