No human monkeys -- for now

Posted: May 11, 2005 12:00 AM

It may have been providential that it was not long before Mother's Day that the congressionally chartered National Academy of Sciences announced it had developed a set of commandments to govern cloning human embryos and that the greatest of these was that all clones must be killed by their 14th day.
To succeed in their quest for medical therapies based on cloning and killing embryos, one thing human-cloning researchers must do is annihilate motherhood -- for clones at least. They must create human beings who not only lack mothers, but who in all cases are denied the love and nurturing good mothers give their children.

 It is true that these researchers need women as "donors." But instead of conceiving and bearing children in their wombs, these "donors" will be given drugs that cause them, like so many chickens on a poultry farm, to exude eggs for the convenience of the researchers who harvest them.

 The researchers will take the human eggs, strip them of the donor's DNA and fertilize them with DNA from another person. Thus, a cloned human is denied a biological mother.

 By insisting -- as they start out in this research at least -- that all clones be killed by the 14th day, the researchers will make sure all clones are denied adoptive mothers, too.

 America's most elite laboratories will be populated with the first fully motherless members of the human race.

 Aspiring clone-to-kill researchers cannot have it any other way -- at least for now. The last thing they need before Americans are thoroughly conditioned to accepting their research is for someone to cherish a cloned embryo as if it were their own child. If therapies based on the mass destruction of human embryos are to become a routine (and highly profitable) medical practice, as the researchers hope, clones need to be established as a unique sub-class of humans that no one ever personally loves, and that researchers may treat at all times like mere property.

 What the NAS's "ethics" rules envision is a high-tech form of human bondage. Under this regime, the well-functioning cloning laboratory will be a little slave state, teeming with captive humans, who are easily reproduced and controlled until they are killed to benefit someone else.

 If researchers who have no respect for the sanctity of life are allowed to get away with this today, we cannot expect their degradations to stop with mass cloning tomorrow.

 In only three decades, we descended from abortion on demand, to partial-birth abortion on demand to court-ordered death-by-starvation for a disabled person.

 Most Americans may not yet be able to imagine what might come after we commence the industrialized cloning and killing of human embryos, but the experts at NAS can. Accordingly, they have made their key "ethics" rules temporary. They are carefully qualified with the phrase "at this time."

 "(I)t continues to be the view of the National Academies," they say, "that research aimed at the reproductive cloning of a human being should not be conducted at this time."

 Both the rule that all cloned embryos must be killed by 14 days and that researchers should not breed animals that have been altered with cells from human embryos are meant to apply only "at this time."

 Then there are those intriguing possibilities with monkeys and apes. "A second possible hazard is that the human embryonic stem cells might generate all or most of an animal's brain, leading to the possibility of a human mind imprisoned in an animal's body," The New York Times dryly reports. "Though neuroscientists consider this unlikely, it cannot be ruled out, particularly with animals closely related to people, like monkeys and apes. The academy advises that human embryonic stem cells not be injected into the embryos of nonhuman primates for the time being."

 But there is always tomorrow.

 If parenthood generally, and motherhood especially, are schoolrooms of human charity where people learn to put someone else's interests above one's own, mass-marketed medical treatments based on creating and killing motherless human embryos will be a schoolroom for just the opposite. It will teach us to treat each other worse then we treat animals -- unless, of course, we make ourselves into animals first.