Brave New Future

Symposium, National Review Online, November 21, 2007.


Reprogramming of human somatic cells to pluripotency is an enormously significant achievement, one that boosters of medical progress and defenders of human dignity can celebrate without qualification. The evidence in the papers released Tuesday is complete and compelling: Cells as versatile and useful as embryonic stem cells, obtained without embryo creation and destruction or the need to exploit women for eggs. Best of all, these cells can be created from everyone — permitting the study of cells with different diseases and genetic makeup and, when stem-cell-based therapies eventually become available, providing rejection-proof tissues for personalized transplantation. The ethical and political benefits may be equally great. The alleged need for so-called therapeutic cloning — cloning embryos for research — is now passé. We can therefore disentangle the “life issue” of embryo-destruction from the “dignity issue” of baby manufacture, and enact a legislative ban on cloning and other degrading forms of baby-making, as recommended unanimously by the President’s Council on Bioethics: Prohibit all attempts to conceive a child by any means other the union of egg and sperm, both obtained from adults. Erecting such a barrier against the brave new world would be a great achievement, one that pro-lifers can now happily embrace without reservation.

National Review Online