Cloning's Slippery Slope

Sometime in the next two years a human being will likely be cloned. This may or may not bring shudders of horror, but will certainly not occur outside the law or in some shadowy offshore location. The medical, scientific, legal and political establishment will fully support the effort. This clone, however, will never leave the British laboratory in which it was created.

Last January, a form of human cloning called “therapeutic cloning” – or more properly “cell nuclear replacement” – was legalized in Britain. As with in vitro fertilization, the British appear to have been the first to devise a regulatory scheme for morally contentious technology. The world is watching what will happen next.

It is rather like a Woody Allen script, but run backwards. In Allen's 1973 film Sleeper, attempts are made to clone Hitler from his preserved nose. Today, instead of cloning people from spare parts – or spare cells, as is the case with reproductive cloning – scientists hope to grow those parts by cloning people.