The Wisdom of Repugnance: Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Human Beings

The New Republic, June 2, 1997.


Our habit of delighting in news of scientific and technological breakthroughs has been sorely challenged by the birth announcement of a sheep named Dolly. Though Dolly shares with previous sheep the “softest clothing, woolly, bright,” William Blake’s question, “Little Lamb, who made thee?”‘ has for her a radically different answer: Dolly was, quite literally, made. She is the work not of nature or nature’s God but of man, an Englishman, Ian Wilmut, and his fellow scientists. What’s more, Dolly came into being not only asexually–—ironically, just like “He [who] calls Himself a Lamb”–”—but also as the genetically identical copy (and the perfect incarnation of the form or blueprint) of a mature ewe, of whom she is a clone. This long-awaited yet not quite expected success in cloning a mammal raised immediately the prospect-—and the specter-—of cloning human beings: “I a child, and thou Thou a lamb,”‘ despite our differences, have always been equal candidates for creative making, only now, by means of cloning, we may both spring from the hand of man playing at being God.

Valparaiso University [pdf]
Stanford University [pdf]