Ban on Human Engineering Needed
The Elliot Institute has renewed its call for a presumptive criminal ban against human cloning and genetic engineering of human beings. This appeal was first issued in 1997 following the cloning of Dolly the sheep. Now as the British government has legalized the cloning of human beings–on the condition that they are killed–the need for state, federal, and international laws banning this and similar Frankensteinian manipulations of human life is greater than ever.
“Clearly the cloning issue has attracted public attention and there is a widespread public sentiment to ban this practice,” said Dr. David Reardon, director of the Elliot Institute. “Because of our failure to immediately capture the support of public sentiment, human cloning is now allowed in Britain. Many other countries may soon follow suit in an effort to keep up with the ‘cutting edge’ of biotechnology.”
Reardon believes that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing for opponents of human engineering. “Now is the time to act, before the public grows accustomed to the thought of ‘therapeutic cloning’ and the inevitability of custom engineered human embryos. Once the common sense of the masses is dulled, it will become increasingly difficult to muster the political will to reverse the current trend,” he said. “It is also essential that we not limit ourselves to a ban on cloning. We need laws that anticipate what scientists may yet envision before they act.”
The advocates of human engineering have proposed ideas that would drastically alter both our species and our society. Among other ideas, eugenicists have proposed (a) the cloning of organ donors who would be mutilated or destroyed for the benefit of others, (b) the genetic creation of a human-animal hybrid race that could serve as a slave race, (c) the custom design of specialized human beings with gene sequences that make them better suited for combat situations or dangerous environments, (d) the design of a genetically “superior” super-race, and (e) the elimination of genetically distinct groups of human beings who are genetically “inferior”–at least as defined by committees of eugenicists.
“Unlike Hitler,” Reardon said, “these people are not seeking military domination of the world, but they are all believers in the eugenicists’ dream: the creation of a ‘Master Race,’ an improved human species. All others must, in time, be either weeded out or genetically altered to serve the ‘greater good.’ It’s time for people to remember that Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ is an anti-utopia. The perfect world that eugenicists hope to create can lead to nothing other than a totalitarian nightmare.”
Reardon believes that pro-life Christians must make a presumptive ban on human engineering a top legislative priority before the public becomes too accustomed to allowing scientists to establish their own rules.
“Each year that passes without a ban, public apathy will increase and the eugenicists will solidify their gains,” he said. “The promise of future medical advances will become accepted as truth and the ethical quagmire that these experiments involve will be less and less considered. Now is the time to force the issue into the legislative arena. The issues at hand are far too important to be left to the confines of obscure academic journals that have no binding force on the eugenicists’ grand schemes for reshaping humanity.”
To provide a basis for engaging in the legislative debate, the Elliot Institute has published model legislation for states called The Human Engineering Prohibition Act. The proposed law would ban all forms of “human engineering,” defined as “the genetic alteration of human gamete material, or the non-therapeutic manipulation of nascent human life after cell division has begun and prior to birth.” This definition is broad enough to include not only cloning but also most forms of experimentation on human embryos.
However, Reardon stresses that the ban is not a “total and permanent ban” on genetic engineering–something legislators have been hesitant to approve. Instead, while erecting a presumptive ban on all such experimental procedures, the legislation provides a mechanism for legislators to add exceptions for certain technologies in the future, on a case by case basis, if scientists can convince the legislature that the technology would benefit society and will be used in a way that respects human dignity.
“This means that scientists who claim to have perfected a new technique of human engineering, as demonstrated in experiments with animals, are invited to approach the legislature for request approval of this technology,” Reardon said. “We are not seeking to ban legitimate and ethical scientific advances. But in this field of biology, which involves human lives, the presumption must be that scientists are not free to do whatever comes into their minds. Their actions have social consequences and they must therefore be responsible to civil authority. The main point is that the question of whether any specific technology using human DNA or nascent human life shall be allowed must always be subject to public investigation and debate at the level of the legislature.”
The Elliot Institute is asking pro-life leaders and religious groups to introduce and support passage of this or similar legislation in the various state legislatures and to encourage President Bush to negotiate for such a ban in international treaties.
A copy of the model legislation may be found at www.afterabortion.org/cloning.htm.
(An updated proposal and website dedicated to this issue can be viewed at www.ElliotInstitute.org/eugenics)
Originally printed in The Post-Abortion Review, Vol. 9(1), Jan.-March 2001. Copyright 2001, Elliot Institute.