Fighting the Clone Wars: Where Politics and Common Sense Collide

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Fighting the Clone Wars: Where Politics and Common Sense Collide. Dennis M. Sullivan, MD, MA (Ethics) Professor of Biology Director, Center for Bioethics Cedarville University Center Web site: E-mail: Objectives. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Text of Fighting the Clone Wars: Where Politics and Common Sense Collide

  • Dennis M. Sullivan, MD, MA (Ethics)Professor of BiologyDirector, Center for BioethicsCedarville University

    Center Web E-mail:

  • Objectives

    To review the current context of the human cloning debate, especially as it relates to embryo-destructive research

    To describe recent attempts to craft a legal barrier to biomedical extremism in Ohio

  • President Obama Speech (3/9/09):Changing the NIH Funding Policy for Embryonic Stem Cell ResearchToday, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research . . .At this moment, the full promise of stem cell research remains unknown, and it should not be overstated . . .When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored . . . [W]e [will] make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.

  • Robert George& Christopher Tollefsen:On January 16, 2007, a remarkable journey came to an end . . . Sixteen months earlier, Noah Benton Markhams life had been jeopardized by the winds and rain of Hurricane Katrina. Trapped in a flooded hospital in New Orleans, Noah depended upon the timely work of [many rescuers] to take him to safety . . .Noahs story of rescue is . . . one of many inspirational tales of heroism from that national disaster. What, then, makes it unique? And why did the story of his rescue end sixteen monthsafterthe events of September 2006? The answer: Noah [was] one of theyoungestresidents of New Orleans to be saved from Katrina . . .

  • A Difference in Perspective:According to the first narrative:Frozen human embryos are a means to an endThey are valuable for the good they might provide for othersBased on highly speculative research that has yet to cure a single human illness

  • A Difference in Perspective (cont.):According to the second narrative:Frozen human embryos are ends in themselvesAn embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his or her natural development.*If not implanted:A tragedyHuman beings whom no one will loveThey will never have a name

    * Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, by RP George and C Tollefsen

  • Embryo-Destructive Research: Promising Dream or Cynical Lie?

  • Welcome to the Clone Wars . . .

  • A long time ago, in a fertility lab far away . . .

    Louise Joy Brown was bornJuly 25, 1978 (Great Britain)Beginning of modern reproductive technologiesEthical oversight was minimal

  • Assisted Reproductive Technologyin vitro fertilization (IVF)hyperstimulation of ovaries with powerful hormonesfollow progress with ultrasoundharvest eggs, then fertilize some or all5 day development of embryosimplantation of 2-4 embryosfreezing of excess remaining embryos

  • Left-Over EmbryosFrozen EmbryosHow many embryos in cryopreservation canisters?U.S. alone: 600,000Worldwide: who really knows?Basis of a contentious national debateSource of embryonic stem cellsUsed to potentially grow new tissues and organsMay help treat chronic diseasesDiabetes, Parkinsons, heart disease, spinal cord injuries

  • The Rest of the StoryHow many embryos are actually available?Only a small % of the 600K could be used for research80% are still held for possible future implantation10% are donated for implantation in othersOnly 10% available for research10% is not enough!Therefore, embryo-destructive research is a black hole human cloning

  • Building the Concept of PersonhoodPerson: A member of the moral community (Beckwith). Implies:ValueInviolabilityPotential Candidates:(Some or all) human beingsGod and purely spiritual beingsIntelligent Martians (if they exist)Higher animals, intelligent robots (controversial)

  • Human PersonhoodKey question:Is the category human person coextensive with the category human being?If yes, then there is no such thing as a human non-personIf no, then:some human beings are not persons(or at least) human personhood can exist in gradations or degrees

  • Conception view of personhoodA human being is a person from the moment of conception and at every subsequent moment.Human personhood corresponds with biological humanhoodMoral value is intrinsic, and begins at the earliest moment of biological life

  • The First Six Days of Life

  • Some Key TermsGametes: sperm or eggFertilization: union of sperm and eggZygote: a one-celled embryo (right after fertilization)Embryo: up until 8 weeks of development

  • Three Clear Scientific Reasons:The embryo is distinctNot the same entity as gametes that led to itBiological life begins hereThe embryo is humanFrom fertilization, 46 chromosomesGenetic makeup of human beings(When does human life begin? is not the question)The embryo is completea whole living member of our species in the earliest stage of developmentAll that is needed: time and nutrition to grow into an adult member of our species

  • Cloning Defined . . .The nucleus (containing the genetic code)is removed from a somatic (body) cell (e.g., a skin cell)This is inserted into a human egg with its own DNA removed (enucleated)Called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)Stimulated to grow by a chemical or electric signalThis mimics natural fertilizationThe result looks very much like a human embryoIf allowed to develop and implant, theoretically could become a normal baby

  • Natural Fertilization

  • Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer

  • Reproductive CloningCloning as a form of assisted reproductive technology, like IVFThe resulting baby would be a genetically identical twin to the person whose DNA created itExamples?Exhibit A: DollyExhibit B: Has this been donein humans?

  • Dr. Panayiotis Zavos2001: teamed up with Italian embryologist Severino Antinori ten women lined up for clonesnever verified2004: claimed he implanted a cloned embryo into a 35 year-old womanclone of her husbandnever verified2006: claimed to have cloned and implanted into five womenone was a Britonnever verifiedNow working in a secret lab in the Middle East

  • Why this is all so sick . . .Not even remotely safeCloning Dolly took 277 attemptsDolly lived 6 years, euthanized after premature agingIn humans, a huge toll of birth defects would resultNo responsible health organization, physicians group, or reputable research institution favors rep. cloning

  • Therapeutic Cloning

  • The Heart of the Clone Wars:Our intention is not to create cloned human beings, but rather to make life-saving therapies for a wide range of human disease conditions, including diabetes, strokes, cancer, AIDS, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease. Robert Lanza, Advanced Cell Technology [We are] speaking as individuals and scientists. Im not an expert in ethics.Michael West, President, Advanced Cell Technology

  • Human cloning has only been done once . . .Dr. Samuel Wood, January, 2008Californian research company StemagenUsed DNA from his own skin cells

  • Ethical ObjectionsTherapeutic Cloning is a euphemismThere are currently no therapies availableThere are many complicationsResearch Cloning is the more appropriate phraseResearch cloning destroys human livesThere are many other alternativesAdult stem cells therapies are numerous and successfulThese are currently being used to save livesNew horizon: iPS cells

  • The Ohio Experience

  • March, 2008:Testimony before the Senate Civil Justice Committee

  • Reflections . . .The attitude towards any restrictions on research OSUCincinnati ChildrensCWRUPolitics and 8th grade biologyFrom your religious viewpoint . . .The half a loaf planHow it all ended

  • Update: 2009Meeting last spring with research scientistsThe surprising resultsThe present climate

  • Banning Cloning Should be an easy Slam-Dunk94% of all Americans support a banThere is absolutely no reason to oppose itA ban would send a clear signal to the people of Ohio that there are some lines we should not crossIf hospitals and scientists support a ban, this would encourage donors and patients alikeA good result for everyoneThis is a battle we should win

  • After all, the Real Force is With Us

  • BibliographyCondic ML, Life: Defining the Beginning by the End, First Things, May, 2003 (link).George RP & C Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, Doubleday, 2008.Kreeft P, Human Personhood Begins at Conception, Castello Institute of Stafford, Stafford, Virginia, 1997, (link).Lee P & RP George, "The First Fourteen Days of Human Life," The New Atlantis, Number 13, Summer 2006, pp. 61-67 (link).Sullivan DM, The Conception View of Personhood, Ethics and Medicine 19:1, 2003 (link).

  • Dennis M. Sullivan, MD, MA (Ethics)Professor of BiologyDirector, Center for BioethicsCedarville University

    Center Web E-mail: