Friday, April 1, 2005

Massachusetts Legislature OKs Human Cloning

Kathryn J. Lopez notes dryly on The Corner that they did it "for the children."

One of the Massachusetts politicians supporting the cloning measure claimed that the cloned human embryos that would be created under it, would not, in fact, be human, because they would not be fertilized. Well, they wouldn't have to be; they'd already be infused with a full complement of chromosomes, as Wesley J. Smith has explained:

The primary cloning technique is called "somatic cell nuclear transfer" (SCNT). This is the technology used to create Dolly the sheep.

SCNT is easy to describe, albeit hard to accomplish. In the case of asexually creating a human, the biotechnologist removes the nucleus from a mature human egg (an oocyte). The nucleus of a body cell from the DNA donor is removed, and put into the place formerly occupied by the egg's nucleus. The genetically modified egg now has 46 chromosomes, the full human compliment. Meanwhile, the ability of the mature egg to transform and begin embryonic development remains fully potent.

A little shot of electricity comes next, and if all goes well, a new human cloned embryo comes into being and begins to develop in the same way as a sexually created embryo. At that point — and this is important to understand — there is no more cloning to be done since a new human organism now exists.

The only question remaining is what to do with it. If the cloned human organism is to be experimented upon and destroyed, the process is often called "therapeutic cloning." If it is to be brought to birth, the process is usually called "reproductive cloning." But it is important to understand these are not different types of cloning. They are different uses for the cloned human lives created via cloning. [Source]