Expostulating Human Cloning

Pat Flanagan, MD

In his article, "You Copy That?" (Medical Sentinel, July/August 1999), P. Gardner Goldsmith discusses some serious concerns about human cloning (HC) and the intrinsic legal aspects that may be relative under constitutional law. In regards to the latter issue discussion is pointed to DNA donation as being pertinent to inalienable rights of property. This is the first issue I will dispense with.

Under this aspect of private property protection, he presupposes that DNA donation can be legally safeguarded under the penumbra of the right of private property, an inalienable right considered irrevocable under our country's Constitution. Private property is indeed inalienable. Agreed. A fortiori, even without the benefit of them being written down on parchment, all rights of life, liberty and property are guaranteed naturally in perpetuity. And to Goldsmith's credit, he is adamantly pro-life and holds forth solidly for the protection of human clones which all of us know would be human persons composed of mortal bodies in potency and immortal souls in se which are created by God. But he unfortunately starts in medias res instead of in principio in postulating that any human clone can be owned by any one person as property.

This country rather brutally disposed formally of this matter following the Civil War when the victorious non-Southern states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution specifically forbidding slavery. Q.E.D.

My major point of disagreement is not so much with the article itself as with all the Prometheans it represents. These are the scientists, ethicists and other talking heads who babble endlessly about the supposed accomplishments that are possible with HC, such as growing replacement organs, parts of organs or entire persons. And nobody directly in this underworld-class production has proffered for public consumption the seminal question, is HC good? Further, is there anything about it that could produce evil --- harm, injury, damage, whatever?

To use a simple real-life example, Dolly the sheep came suddenly and with great fanfare upon the world stage in 1997 becoming a great excitement very shortly thereafter.(1) Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult animal.

What most people do not know, (and knowledge is power), is that it took 276 attempts before Dolly became reality. In other words, there were 276 failures measured as miscarriages, monstrous abortuses, stillbirths, etc., before Dolly stood all decked out in full-fledged wooly regalia before the Brave New World. Now extrapolate that to HC and you can see the enormity that is possible. If even only one human being is sacrificed upon the altar of progress for whatever perceived utilitarian good, then somebody dies. And we all know that a fertilized egg is one cell containing the complete complement of diploid chromosomes for phenotypic development and a composite soul given by God that breathes life into this baby. By definition we have a person here in the unicellular stage. And anyone who causes it to lose its life has committed homicide. That is real harm.

By the Natural Law which is implanted inherently in everyone's mind at the moment of conception we are obliged to do good and avoid evil. If evil, which for our present purpose of discussion is tampering with basic human life, then our consciences urge us to stay away. By virtue of the above, HC should not and must not be pursued.

Alas, the enlightened pundits playing at god have missed the moral to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Even if they didn't read the book, who hasn't seen the movie? The monster turns on its creator who has dared transcend an Olympian Verbotenland and try his hand at immortality. As eloquently stated by G. K. Chesterton, when people stop believing in God they will believe in everything else. And it appears that his prescience is being vindicated by history unfolding right before our eyes.


1. Schnieke AE, et al. Human factor IX transgenic sheep produced by transfer of nuclei from transfected fetal fibroblasts. Science (278);12/19/97.

Dr. Flanagan is a urologist in private practice in Waukesha, WI.

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1999;4(6):222. Copyright©1999 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).