Many Religious Fundamentalists Will Protect Human Clones
By Lewis Eigen
In an earlier article, Human Clones May Be Among Us Now! Who Is Ready?, we created the hypothetical situation where a woman pregnant with a clone would be cared for and protected by a Catholic Hospital. The assumption in this hypothetical example that many Right-To-Life advocates are so sincere that they would protect the life of a clone whose creation they might fear or disapprove of under normal circumstances. This kind of moral consistency is not always present amongst the so-called Right-To-Life movement where death and even deliberate death is often tolerated or even advocated in cases of war, execution, political murder of those who disagree, etc.
One criticism of my earlier article was that the premise of protection for the clone in utero was not supported by any evidence. Happily, there is now evidence that is very strong.
In the state of Mississippi, there is a strong Right-To-Life constituency. One group is organized under the name of Personhood Mississippi. If you link to their website, http://www.personhoodmississippi.com/, you will see what at first appears to be a classic, right wing, Christian, religious approach to a narrow problem. Under the large name of the organization on the masthead, in a large, bright red font is the mantra: Stop Abortion and Cloning.
So far, they appear typical. However, their tactic to stop abortion in Mississippi is to amend the State Constitution by means of a voter initiative. The amendment they seek is to define a “person” in Mississippi to include the unborn. It that is successful, then all the existing criminal statues against murder and manslaughter would automatically apply to the abortion situation—their objective.
There are many on their side of the abortion debate who have great doubts over the wisdom of the person definition strategy. The reason is that it such an amendment will have many unintended consequences. If a fetus is a person by law, pregnancies will have to be counted for purposes of distributing state funds. And a family that includes a pregnant woman will be entitled to an additional deduction for tax purposes. Depending on the exact definition a couple undergoing fertilization therapy might fertilize and embed 4 or more embryos and claim a deduction for each. But the wisdom of the strategy is not the concern of this article. What is, is the reversal that the organization makes with respect to cloning. They are very conscious that a fetus can be produced by human cloning, and they want to be SURE that such a fetus would be protected. So here is the exact language that Personhood Mississippi has used for their proposed Constitutional Amendment:
“Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof. This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.”
The critical sentence is: The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof. The human clone fetus is thereby protected every bit as much as natural fetus!
This protection comes from a group whose major motto is: Stop Abortion and Cloning. Although this group is very much opposed to the idea of human cloning, once it takes place, they insist on giving the clone in utero the total protection of the law. The consistency of the moral judgment and analysis is stunning. And it is very subtle, for a type of organization that is usually criticized as seeing everything in black and white with no subtlety of grey along the way.
Having a small Mississippi organization take this position is, by itself, an existence proof, of the hypothetical of my earlier article, but the evidence is much stronger. Personhood Mississippi has in addition collected signatures from around the states sufficient to put their Constitutional Amendment on the election ballot, they believe. They have over 130,000 signatures. Some of the signatories may not have any idea of what they have signed and its meaning, but the petition is a short one and the word “cloning” is prominently displayed. Many people in Mississippi want to protect a human clone fetus if and when anyone ever produces same.
In the cloning debate to come, the political lines will not be drawn cleanly. And those who we presuppose would be the most fearful of the concept of human cloning, may themselves be split into those who would want clones to be born and those who would see a clone as an Anti-Christ or other evil that must be destroyed.
As for the fate of the Constitutional Amendment, most Mississippi constitutional experts observe that the voter initiative law does NOT allow a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot by voter initiative—just laws. Regardless of the fate of the Constitutional Amendment, the Personhood Mississippi has made a major contribution to the debate and discussion of human reproductive cloning.
Entry filed under: Health & Medicine, Politics, Science. Tags: abortion, clone, cloning, consistency, constitutional amendment, ethics, Mississippi, morality, Parenthood Mississippi, petitions, right to life, voter initiatives.