Why We Should Ban the Cloning of Human Beings

Texas Review of Law & Politics 4(1): 41-49, Fall 1999.


“To clone or not to clone a human being” is no longer a fanciful question. Success in cloning first sheep, then cows, and most recently, great success in cloning mice makes it perfectly clear that a fateful decision is now at hand: should we welcome or even tolerate the cloning of human beings?

We dare not be complacent about what is at issue, for the stakes are very high indeed. Human cloning, though partly continuous with previous reproductive technologies, is also something radically new, both in itself and in its easily foreseeable consequences. I exaggerate, but in the direction of truth: we are compelled to decide nothing less than whether human procreation is going to remain human, whether children are going to be made rather than begotten, and whether we wish to say yes in principle to the road that leads to the dehumanized hell of Brave New World.

I address this subject at greater length in a new book co-authored with James Q. Wilson, The Ethics of Human Cloning. My goal here is to begin to persuade the reader, first that cloning is a serious evil, both in itself and in what it leads to, and second, that we ought to try to stop it by legislative prohibition. But before doing so I will offer a brief synopsis of the state of the art.