- Human cloning has a ring of evil to it, due in part to its portrayal
as the practice of mad scientists or diabolical conspirators in
movies and television shows. But a renowned medical ethicist believes
alternate forms of human reproduction can benefit mankind if further
research is conducted to make the practice safer.
a kind of juggernaut against reproductive cloning...it has tremendous
negative publicity," said Dr. Gregory Pence, a longtime member
of the faculty at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a
noted authority on medical ethics. Tuesday, he presented "Who's
Afraid of Human Cloning?" at the first University Forum lecture
series of the fall 2003 semester at The University of Southern Mississippi.
that after 50 years of science fiction at the movies, on television
and in books, "We've been conditioned to think that everything
associated with cloning is bad. The doctors and scientists involved
with it are always portrayed as evil, so it's no wonder we don't
against cloning and alternate human reproduction comes despite the
success of reproduction of humans through test tubes, which has
resulted in thousands of births for people unable to have children
by normal reproduction. "The whole debate vanished (after the
first test-tube birth)," he said, noting that the general response
was "Hey, it's just another way to make a baby."
Pence was one
of only a few bioethicists in the country to oppose President Bill
Clinton's ban on human cloning. He has testified on cloning before
the House of Representatives and has published articles and books
on the subject, including Who's Afraid of Human Cloning? (1977)
and more recently, Brave New Bioethics (2003).
Some of the
moral arguments against human cloning have included opposition to
the concept of creating "designer babies," free of imperfections
or with desirable traits, or as a way to continue a family lineage
when natural reproduction efforts have failed. "Who has the
right to decide where the line (in a family) ends?" he said.
what the roulette wheel of fate throws your way ?" he said.
"We all know how cruel fate can be."
expressed his support for stem cell and embryo research as a way
to find cures for diseases, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's,
despite the argument that their use in research is an affront to
outweigh the possible loss or disrespect for life," he said.
"Potential (for life) is not the same as a baby
acorn becomes an oak tree."
a Southern Miss senior from Biloxi majoring in biology, said she
was glad Pence discussed the moral aspect of cloning and didn't
criticize those who had philosophical differences with the practice.
"He just explained why he thought it (cloning) was acceptable,"
there is still much more research to be done on human cloning before
the practice can be made safer. To do that, more work needs to be
done in the field of animal cloning, he said. He cited some benefits
of animal cloning, which include improved livestock, advances in
medical research and the ability to save endangered species.
where the action (animal cloning) is," he said, noting there
is little complaint about animal cloning because of the profitability
and the numerous medical awards it has received.
In the meantime,
changing attitudes about human cloning is necessary before any advances
in research can be achieved. "Cloning (itself) isn't evil,
it's what people do with it," he said.