What about failed cloning experiments?

One has to do with the question of failed experiments. It took 277 attempts to produce Dolly, and apparently Dolly is normal. But among the failed attempts, there were several sheep born that were profoundly malformed and had major birth defects. Now, it's easy to say, when you have a sheep, a baby lamb born with malformations or genetic or other defects, it's easy to say let's just get rid of that. But if this were done on a human population, what would we do with the failed experiments if it took 277 to produce one success?

We are, as a state, and maybe even as a country, cutting back on institutional services for the disabled. I take medical students each year to Agnew's Developmental Center in San Jose(California) because I want them to see that small segment of Agnew's population that is there because of the so-called "successes" of medicine. And it alarms me every time I go because Agnew's is shrinking. They've now stopped admitting new patients. That is to say, many of those with profound developmental disabilities or delays or deficits are no longer eligible for state support. Their parents have to make private arrangements. So what would we do with the failures?

The technological imperative…
Then I have another concern, and that has to do with what is often called the technological imperative in general and about the advanced reproductive technologies in particular. The notion that something can be done all too often leads to the complementary idea that it should be done. We are seeing this now particularly with the advanced reproductive technologies. The fact that a 65 year old woman can be enabled to give birth to a child, in the minds of some at least, means that it should be done. So we now have a number of reported cases of women in their sixties, long past menopause, who have given birth - usually her daughter has provided the egg and then the mother gestated the child, so the gestational mother is actually the grandmother. It gets very complicated. And the daughter is the child's what?

But the advanced reproductive technologies are really moving forward and I worry about that because of the old religious notion that there's a difference between procreation and reproduction. Yes, procreation and reproduction. There is a difference. Procreation is a uniquely human process. Reproduction is sort of a technological process. And I worry that the line between reproduction and procreation is going to be even further blurred.


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