Question of the Week

January 6, 2003 

There has been talk in the news that the first human clone may have been born in December of 2002. This news stunned the world, and initially came with few details. As more has been learned about the group and the circumstances, the validity of the claim has been questioned. As of yet, no outside source has been allowed to check the DNA of the mother and daughter to compare the two. More than a year ago, Scientific American ran an article dated November 24, 2001:

"Reproductive Cloning: They Want to Make a Baby" As the story went.. "Zavos is a professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Kentucky and co-founder of a fertility clinic in Lexington; Antinori is director of a Rome-based fertility clinic. Both have reputations as renegades: Antinori has helped many post-menopausal women become pregnant, including at least one woman who gave birth in her 60s. At a conference onhuman cloning at the National Academy of Sciences last August, Zavos said that he and Antinori would work to help couples in which the man did not produce viable sperm reproduce via cloning. The two announced they would have pregnancies by the end of this year. Their claim is credible: both have extensive expertise in fertility and access to potentially interested couples."
Scientific American

This is the group in the news today claiming to have done what they said they would. They claim that this baby girl was born just last month with the DNA of her mother. This group made a claim and made headlines. Everyone is talking about what they say they have done. They have the media telling the world each day more and more about who they are and what they believe as a group. They have emotionally charged people on different sides of the cloning issue. This group is using this baby (if there is a baby) for publicity. The media is using this story for ratings. Different sides of the cloning debate are using this baby in the attempt to help their respective causes.

It may be a long time before we know if this breaking news story was all just a hoax.

"Boisselier made the announcement on Friday that her group had produced the world's first cloned baby. She said the baby was delivered to a 31-year-old American woman by Caesarean section on Thursday and that a pediatrician had examined the child--nicknamed "Eve"--and found that she was in fine health. The scientific community has responded with skepticism and dismay, citing the several failed cloning attempts of other mammals.
They have also pointed out that Boisselier has offered no proof--no photographs or genetic tests--to prove her claim."

And if this baby does exist? And if this baby is a clone? What level of privacy will we (her fellow citizens) provide her? How much of her life are we "entitled" to know about in the name of science?

Questions of the Week:
There is legitimate medical news that reports new findings through research; there is curiosity about a new development; and there is the respect for the right to have a private life if one chooses. Where do we draw the line? Will this child ever understand the existence of that line? Does she still have the right to a private life, or did her mother give that up for her?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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