Mar. 10th, 2009

magistera: (Default)
You know, when I comment snarkily to my bf about how very very annoyed I get at all the knee-jerk "human cloning is profoundly wrong" bs that flies around without even a single solitary reason offered as to why (because "human cloning" actually means "mindless humans grown in vats for the purposes of harvesting their organs, or something equally nefarious", natch) --

-- the last thing I expect in response is an argument about how growing humans in vats for the purposes of organ-farming is wrong.

I mean, no shit, unless you've somehow also engineered the ability to make sure that they're literally brainless as well*, in which case:

a) I can't imagine the organs are developing properly, and
b) why aren't you capable of growing the organs separately, or inside a non-human animal, which as far as I understand we are much closer to being able to do than growing an entire human, to the extent that we're anything like close to being capable of either, and
c) this has what-the-fuck-all to do with arguments about taking a human ovum, giving it a specially-primed new nucleus and then treating it exactly like an IVF embryo?

And even if you assumed that some company were unethical and reckless enough to do that (and I harbor no, or at least I hope very few, illusions about the fact that many would be, were it economically and legally feasible) for the purposes of organ harvesting or human experimentation - why are they not doing that now and simply either buying children or surreptitiously paying surrogate mothers to bear them? Human eggs can be had for about 5K the dozen. Sperm can be had by the millions for a ten-spot. Combining the two, and implanting the result, is sufficiently well-understood that the whole process can be performed at retail for a few tens of thousands of dollars. Hell, there are millions of already-mixed-up embryos just waiting for a nice warm womb to call home, that can probably be had cheaper than the raw materials. All of this is much much cheaper than setting up an entire lab to do human cloning. So why isn't there a giant black market in IVF'd-to-order babies for the Pfizer-Merck-Clairol market?

...oh, right. Because that's already illegal on so many levels that creating someone's decades-removed twin has nothing to do with it.

Did we actually have debates, back when the first test-tube baby was conceived and born (aside: I am not sure why this is in my head, but for some reason I always picture Louise Brown as being conceived In Space), about whether they'd be human? Like, did people actually think it was wrong because somehow the babies born as a result would obviously not receive the same rights and protections at law that babies conceived the usual way would? Because I'm not old enough to remember, and barring bizarre misconceptions of science like the one the boyfriend is guilty of (ie, clones are not humans grown in vats, no matter what your favorite fiction may tell you), I really don't understand why it's such a big frigging controversy.

* If they are, in fact, literally brainless, I relegate the topic to the realms of something I consider inevitable, which is that the first vat-grown meat** to hit the market will be closely followed by the first business to traffic in certifiably vat-grown human flesh for consumption, to which I say ew and worry about questions of provenance but cannot actually declaim as intrisically wrong.

**Yes, this is the kind of thing I think about, a lot of the time.

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magistera

February 2011

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