Re "A Tempest in a Petri Dish," Opinion, Dec. 2: Gregory Stock states that test-tube babies were also initially viewed as unnatural. I wonder when in vitro fertilization became a natural way to reproduce. Has the doctor's office and perhaps an anonymous sperm or egg injected into a woman joined the ranks of sexual intercourse as natural means of conception?
The sad truth about the unnatural method of cloning is that it will probably thrive in our brave new world. We can no more legislate it away than we can legislate morality. When researchers perfect cloning on humans, infertile people, who now pay thousands of dollars to adopt someone else's child, to become pregnant via someone else's parentage or to pay someone to carry a baby to term, will embrace this new technology as well.
Our society would much rather trust technology than either religion or nature. As an adoptee who spent 34 years away from the family that nature gave me, I can't help but wonder what effect these new technologies will have on the children they produce. If cloning becomes as lucrative as infertility treatments and adoption, I doubt if anyone will care about what effect it has on the children.
The discussion of therapeutic cloning's promises and perplexities misses the crucial distinction between identical twins and clones. Identical twins originate at the same time, share their mother's womb and experience common cultural events. In contrast, human clones and their donors would differ in conception time, birth date and generation.
Stock is aware that clones and donors would not be perfect replicas. However, his reference to clones as "merely delayed identical twins" reinforces the mistaken notion that cloned children would inevitably replay the lives of their genetic parents. Research on identical twins (raised together and apart) shows both striking parallels and intriguing differences.
Nancy L. Segal PhD
Professor of Psychology
Director of Twin Studies Center
Cal State Fullerton
Stock uses the term ''arcane'' to describe a theological debate about what he terms a ''speck of cells'' being a human being. The vast majority of people throughout the world understand that this speck of cells is human, no ifs, ands or buts. (What else, the Yeti, a dog? Perhaps it will grow into a fully developed sunflower!) Even among those who debate the issue of the inception of human personhood, the issue is timing of becoming a person, not of becoming a human being.
Stock smugly asserts, ''Religion has an important place in our hearts and lives, but it should not shape science policy.'' Clearly, Stock is among those who myopically fail to see the connection between our daily lives and what science is doing in the lab that affects our daily lives. He expresses doubt that we are on a ''slippery slope,'' as long as we are able to make nuanced moral judgments. What does Stock think helps shape morals and moral judgments? Individuals bereft of the taint of religion? To what will he refer for his nuances of right and wrong, if he and other like-minded individuals are the only arbiters of principles?
Sherry Smith RN
Right to Life League of
Southern California, Pasadena
Every freedom is bought at the price of another freedom. I can drive down the right side of the road with a confidence purchased by giving up the freedom to drive on the left side. "Thou shalt not kill" guards me from others who might slay me. We have established a legislative and executive government to write these restrictions to freedom into laws and to enforce them.
Now comes Advanced Cell Technology with a report that it is having some beginning success in cloning a human egg containing exact copies of the cells of a particular individual. This, if it can be carried many further steps, could produce a kidney which exactly matched that individual. It could save the life of a friend of mine who cannot be matched by any donor. And immediately following comes the government rushing to pass laws as soon as possible to stop this work. They say that the work would raise moral issues. What I want to know is, what new freedom would I get in exchange for this newly lost freedom?