Cloning Cloning III III
John Robertson: “Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning” Robertson’s Project • Robertson considers human cloning from the point where Pence left us: with a program of cloning that is safe and effective. • Robertson is concerned with “procreative freedom” and whether cloning falls within its bounds. • Further, Robertson asks, what should our public policy be with regard to human cloning? • Note: For Robertson, “procreation” or “reproduction” involves not only the creation of new life, but also the rearing of that individual—the assurance that the child survives.
The Demand for Human Cloning • Family-centered uses of cloning consist in the commitment to have and rear a child. • Family-centered human cloning would require “a psychological commitment and ability to deal with the novelty of raising a child whose genome has been chosen, and who may be the later-born identical twin of another person, living or dead.” (320-1) • “Horror” stories of cloning, like Brave New World and Multiplicity overlook the environmental influences on the cloned child.
The Demand for Human Cloning (cont’d) • A couple might choose to have and rear a clone: • because of the advantages of cloning over other assisted reproductive techniques; and • because it gives them a choice over their offspring’s genetics. • Central question: Can cloning be used responsibly to help a couple achieve legitimate reproductive goals? • If so, do these uses fall within the “procreative freedom” of individuals?
Human Cloning & Procreative Liberty • Procreative liberty is “the freedom to decide whether or not to have offspring.” • Because of the physical, social, psychological, and emotional burdens of reproduction, it is widely thought that reproduction should be voluntary. • Likewise, depriving an individual of the ability or opportunity to reproduce is a burden, and should not occur without consent. • Procreative freedom is generally thought to be an important, fundamental instance of personal liberty.
Human Cloning & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) Do assisted reproduction, generally, and genetic selection fall within procreative freedom? • Infertile couples have the same interests in reproducing as coitally fertile couples. • That they are infertile should not bar them from reproducing with technological assistance any more than the blind should be barred from reading with the assistance of Braille. • It should likewise follow that infertile couples would have the right to gamete and embryo donors for the purposes of reproductive and therapeutic cloning.
Human Cloning & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) People make decisions to reproduce or not because of the experiences that reproduction would bring about. • Since these experiences determine whether or not a couple reproduces, a right to reproductive decisions based on these experiences should follow. • Since such decisions may be made on the basis of the characteristics of the child, some right to choose the child’s characteristics should follow as well. If most current forms of assisted reproduction and genetic selection fall under procreative freedom, so too should human cloning, whether reproductive or therapeutic. • Unlike other forms of assisted reproduction, however, cloning is not concerned only with producing a child, but also with the genes the child will have.
DNA Sources & Procreative Liberty Cloning is so similar to standard coital and non-coital forms of reproduction that they should be treated in the same way, regardless of who serves as the genetic source for the clone. (a) Cloning a Couple’s Embryos • A couple may choose to clone an existing embryo, either through embryo splitting or nuclear transfer. • Such an action is intended to bring about the birth of a child that will be reared by its parents, whether as an additional child, or to replace a child who has died. • Couples may seek to clone embryos not to produce a child to rear, but for embryonic stem cells for an existing child. • As such an act involves reproduction and enables an existing child to live, it too should be found within the couple’s procreative liberty.
DNA Sources & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) (b) Cloning One’s Children • There are several reasons a couple might choose to clone an existing child: • Where the existing child is so perfect the parents don’t want to “roll the dice” again. • Where the existing child might need an organ or tissue transplant. • Where the existing child is dying (or has died) and the parents want to allow it to “continue” to live. • These might be the same (or similar) motivations for a couple who reproduces in standard coital or non-coital ways. • As such standard reproduction would fall within the realm of procreative liberty, so too should cloning to produce the same ends.
DNA Sources & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) (c) Cloning Third Parties Do you have a right to clone another individual? • A desire to clone another individual is most likely to arise in couples who are otherwise unable to reproduce. • We recognize that couples have a right to use gamete donation to form a family. • As such, we should also consider embryo donation as a part of the same liberty. • It is not a great stretch to recognizing the donation of the DNA of a third party as a part of that liberty. • Without some overriding harm, there seems no reason for this to fall outside procreative freedom. • This is provided the couple is willing to raise the child—if not, it would seem to be to treat children as a commodity.
DNA Sources & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) (c) Cloning Third Parties (cont’d) Do you have a right to your being cloned by another? • We might view this as the continuation of your DNA, and so plausibly as a form of reproduction. • However as the donor is not doing the rearing of the offspring, such a right to be cloned is only the barest and least protected form of reproduction. • More strongly, the right to be cloned will arise as derivative on the rights-to-reproduce of the parents who will do the raising.
DNA Sources & Procreative Liberty (cont’d) (d) Cloning Oneself • As in embryo donation, the couple would gestate and rear the child. • We might also view the situation as a variation on the right to use a gamete donor. • If such a right exists, it plausibly follows that they have a right to choose the source of gamete. • As such, they should be able to choose their own DNA. • “[T]he genetic replication involved in cloning [oneself] is directly and quintessentially reproductive.” (325) • It allows one to survive longer. • Again, only some overriding harm could justify restrictions on self-cloning.
Constituting Procreative Liberty • The meanings of reproduction, family, parenting, and children become blurred as we move further away from standard sexual reproduction. • But we do no harm to prevailing notions of procreative choice in recognizing cloning as a reproductive choice.
Public Policy • If it could be shown that human cloning was safe, should all cloning be permitted? • What regulations would minimize any harms that cloning could cause? • No cloning without rearing • Such a regulation would prevent persons form creating clones to be used as slaves, as in Brave New World. • Two-parent rearing. • Because of the novelty of cloning, some situations might still produce social or psychological problems. • But it hardly follows that all cloning should be banned because some undesirable situations might arise.
Discussion • Robertson indicates that the freedom to clone includes both reproductive and therapeutic cloning. Does he make a good case for both? • Robertson focuses on the rights of a married couple. Why doesn’t he consider the rights of individuals? • If “procreative freedom” extends only to cases of producing and rearing children, what would we make of a case where a woman is impregnated and cannot afford to raise the child, and so chooses to put it up for adoption? • Does it matter if she has pre-arranged adoptive parents?