Cloning Embryos And/Or Babies: Christian Bioethics

 A few days ago I mentioned this great resource on Christian bioethics: How to be A Christian in A Brave New World by N. Cameron and J. Tada.  Here’s a good section where Cameron discusses the cloning of embryos and babies.  He argues that both types – embryo cloning and the cloning of babies – are unethical from a Christian perspective.  Here is how he speaks against a partial ban on cloning (allowing embryo cloning but not the cloning of babies) in favor of a full ban.

“First, if the cloning of embryos for research is permitted, the policy can be applied only by requiring that they also must be destroyed.  Since biotech advocates need very large numbers of embryos for the ‘therapeutic cloning’ model to work, very large numbers of embryos must be destroyed.  Policy makers with varied views on the nature of early embryonic human life have found the principle of creating and destroying huge numbers of embryonic human beings unacceptable.”

“Second, if the cloning of embryos for research is permitted, it will perfect the very technology that can be used to clone embryos for implantation and live birth.”

“Third, if the cloning of embryos for research is permitted, many millions of cloned human embryos will be produced in laboratories.  It is inevitable that some of these embryos will be implanted and result in the birth of cloned babies.  Many motives will be cited, all the way from criminal intent and financial reward to pro-life ‘rescue.’  One way or another, the mass production of research-cloned embryos will result in the birth of cloned children.”

“In fact, there is no better way to protect against the mass production of human embryos for experimental purposes than by putting in place a cloning ban.  Encouraging the mass production of embryos will make more, not less, likely the birth of cloned human beings” (p. 141).

I agree with Cameron here.  We cannot do as we please with human embryos; we must not treat them like commodities or lab rats.  There is a lot of Christian theology behind such a view of human embryos and very young children. Even those being knit together in the womb are humans made in God’s image.  Exercising dominion over the earth doesn’t mean adopting the spirit of Babel’s tower and asserting absolute independence from God while we try to make a name for ourselves.  As Christians, we also think of virtue: faith, hope, love of neighbor, kindness, justice, helping the needy, and so forth.  I urge our readers to get this book to help cultivate a biblical and Christian view of bioethics: How to be A Christian in A Brave New World.

shane lems