March 3rd, 1998 by

Opening Statement to the Twin City Republican Club on the Science and Ethics of Cloning
By: Paul Stam, Representative of the 37th District

It would be presumptuous indeed if I attempted to lay out the case against cloning of individual human beings in the time allotted. Instead let me raise 11 sets of questions that may help us think this thing through and through.

  1. If only one parent becomes necessary for reproduction, what social structure will eventually be required to see that two adults are normally responsible for the support of a child? If the second parent is only “on the hook” as a matter of contract and not as a matter of a shared life, what is to keep that parent sacrificing in the lean years?
  2. Should the law impose on the cloner secondary duties of child support and visitation. Why is there any less duty of support for the cloner than on a “father” who is liable for 18 years of support for contributing nothing more to a child’s life than sperm. At least the cloner specifically intended a child.
  3. Should the amount of child support for which the cloner is liable be based on the mother’s standard of living or on the cloner’s standard of living.
  4. We would all be rather put off if some eccentric rich guy decided to make 100 clones of Sadaam or Khadafi. But these men really do control great wealth and have little common sense. If the law allows cloning of individual human beings for some humanitarian purpose does anyone think that the law could then prevent Ross Perot from plaguing the 21st century with another 100 yapping Perots if his vanity demanded that he needed leadership for his political party.
  5. Surrogate motherhood, in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination already separate reproduction from sex but genetic biodiversity is not adversely impacted because the male contribution to the DNA is still present. With cloning will biologic homogenity provide avenues for epidemic diseases similar to what the Irish potato did to Ireland in the last century.
  6. People die prematurely. There are divorces, accidents, murders. One of the wonderful things about the normal process of courtship, marriage, sex and children is that a child has not only two parents but two families – multiple grandparents, in-laws, cousins, as well as brothers and sisters. This support structure can often step in when one or both parents fail. But if a child is intentionally created with only half of that support structure to whom will the child turn when the only other half fails?
  7. Can a cloned human being be held in slavery? I hope not. If not, can a child be cloned for the purpose of a tissue match for the parent? Assuming that use of the child for that purpose entails some risk or pain who will give informed consent? If it is the parent have we not in effect sanctioned slavery, that is, using another human being as a means – not empowering that human being as an end in herself.
  8. If there is no need for men in family formation what social consequences can we predict from an increase in the number of families without a resident father?
  9. I have heard that the fertility rate was dropping in America, but really, is the population now dropping so quickly that the usual, virtually free, method of producing children needs to be supplemented by hyper-expensive methods? Couldn’t this be handled much more cheaply by simply encouraging adoption. Is the problem lack of children or vanity?
  10. Is the vanity of a person who simply won’t mix his genes with another – if not in bed at least in the test tube – an important interest that needs to be humored by society? Or would character development be enhanced if those wishing to create children were required to develop social skills creating children in the context of a family?

Let me close with a musing from John Donne. Please imagine the cloner absorbing these thoughts from her patient.

“Muse not that by thy mind my body’s led For by thy mind my mind’s distempered So thy cares live long, for I, bearing part, It eats not only thine, but my swollen heart And when it gives us intermission.”
We take new hearts for it to feed upon.

Question 11. What has happened to romance?

I look forward to some answers to these questions.

The writer represents Southern Wake County in the North Carolina House of Representatives.