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Genetic Crossroads
April 9th, 2004

Op-Ed: Mark Derr, "The Triumph
of Hope Over Science," New York Times (February

Social and environmental historian Mark Derr, who suffers
from Parkinson's disease, says, "What bothers me is that
scientists are putting forth an overly optimistic list of potential
benefits of their research…. Such predictions engender
genuine, if speculative, hope. I suspect it is human nature
to want to believe in a cure, whether derived through magic
or science. But ethical uneasiness clouds this promise when
the issue is human cloning.… [T]he invocation of human
suffering to justify cloning and other controversial procedures
is disingenuous and unfair.… Holding out the possibility
of some future health benefit simply obscures more fundamental


Article: Carl Elliott, "Beyond
Politics," Salon.com (March 9)

University of Minnesota bioethicist Carl Elliott says a
report released last fall by the President's Bioethics Council,
Beyond Therapy, cannot easily be pigeon-holed as a "conservative"
text. The report, says Elliott, "is skeptical of America's
faith in technology, worried about America's radical individualism,
alarmed at the transformation of medicine from a profession
into a business, and deeply concerned about the role of the
market in driving the demand for new medical technologies. Beyond
Therapy may not please many bioethicists, but neither will it
please the libertarian or the business-conservative wings of
the Republican Party."


Op-Ed: Francis Fukuyama, "Our
Cloning Policy, Hostage to a Stalemate," Washington
(February 15)

Fukuyama argues that "[t]he only way to proceed responsibly
with stem cell research and research cloning is to create a
strict regulatory framework that would set limits on what such
research could do. Such a framework has existed in Britain for
more than 10 years, in the form of the Human Fertilisation and
Embryology Authority (HFEA), which strictly regulates both embryo
research and in vitro fertilization clinics there."


Report: M. Asif Ismail, Center
for Public Integrity: "Regulating Cloning: The biotech
industry pushes its agenda in the states" (March 2)

Ismail documents how the Biotechnology Industry Organization
(BIO), having helped to block federal legislation against research

cloning, has moved to the states to press for laws affirming
and funding it. Two such bills have been passed, and at least
five others are being considered. "The state bills faithfully
duplicate word for word substantial portions of a BIO-backed
bill that California adopted two years ago," the Center



Op-Ed: Hilary Rose, "Beware
the cowboy cloners," The Guardian (February 16)

UK sociologist and noted author Hilary Rose writes, "What
is clear is that the rush to experiment with human embryos is,
to say the least, premature, driven more by the lust for scientific
glory than a clear sense of the medical imperatives. As the
procedures involved in therapeutic cloning are almost identical
to those needed for reproductive cloning, the Korean achievement
brings that closer, too."


Book: William Saletan, Bearing
Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War
of California Press)

Saletan's insightful book on abortion politics is a pro-choice
critique of the pro-choice movement. It ends by discussing the
problematic response of national pro-choice groups to human
cloning, stem cell research, and sex selection. Saletan argues
that pro-choice strategists, fearful that restrictions on cloning
could elevate the perceived status of embryos and thus provide
further ammunition for anti-choice advocates, wound up taking
positions that undercut their own credibility: "[T]hey
were willing to team up with biotech entrepreneurs and conservative
lawmakers in defense of manufacturing human embryos outside
the womb for their parts. They were even willing to pretend
that cloned human embryos were neither cloned, nor human, nor


Op-Ed: Ann Elisabeth Samson, "Donors
need defenders," Toronto Globe and Mail (March 9)

"[T]he [cloning] debate shouldn't just involve scientists
and theologians. It hinges on the availability of eggs, which
have to come from women, who must endure an emotional, sometimes
painful or dangerous egg-harvesting process to provide them….
In a world where the bodies of women-particularly those living
in poverty or in the developing world-have been used for the
pursuit of medical knowledge, the potential for exploitation
is obvious. Yet instead of debating ethical sources of eggs,
the focus is on government restrictions that will 'hold back
science,'" asserts Samson, senior researcher on gender
equality and new technologies with the Association for Women's
Rights in Development (http://www.awid.org).



Book: Alexander Sanger, Beyond
Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century

"New reproductive technologies are not always useful
in advancing reproductive rights," writes Sanger, Chair
of the International Planned Parenthood Council. "It is
not safe to use genetic engineering to put the genetic future
of the human race, our evolutionary future, in our conscious
(as opposed to subconscious) hands… I view with enormous
skepticism any human attempt to improve upon that process through
genetic engineering." Sanger argues that "[s]ex selection
and genetic screening of fetuses should be allowed through PGD
and selective abortion. But if evidence mounted that reproductive
technologies were being used to discriminate in a wide-spread
fashion, they should be banned."



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