Ron Reagan’s Cloning Agenda Is Based On Two Big Lies

To the credit of Ron Reagan, while he has hi-jacked his father’s good name in the pursuit of unethical science, and done so with sophisticated dishonesty, he has finally let the cat out of the bag. Rather than waste his time and ours by asking for a few more stem-cell lines, or even a freezer full of “spare” embryos, he has gone to the heart of the issue. He’s a cloner. What we need, he says, is mass-production cloning of human embryos. By the millions. Of course, he doesn’t use the word “cloning.” It’s not a popular word, and his candor has its limits. So although it’s a speech on cloning, he never uses the word, not even once. But he describes cloning, advocates cloning, and condemns those who oppose cloning.

Like other advocates of “therapeutic cloning” he hypes the hopes of the sick and their families and shamelessly exploits their anguish. To parade the courage and sadness of a 13 year old girl in a speech may not be as tasteless as having sick children testify at hearings (which I have also seen) but it has the effect of short-circuiting serious ethical and policy discussion and thereby offers a grave disservice to the cause of democracy. Our first gift to a brave, sick child and her family must be honesty. To suggest that cures for juvenile diabetes and Parkinson’s disease are just around the corner, and that voting in pro-cloners will somehow make it happen, is a travesty. In fact, to date, only ethical research on adult stem cells has actually cured people with “incurable” diseases.

Consider the key paragraph of his speech to the Democratic Party’s convention. If you’ve forgotten how they claim cloning might work, here’s a refresher:

Now, imagine going to a doctor who, instead of prescribing drugs, takes a few skin cells from your arm. The nucleus of one of your cells is placed into a donor egg whose own nucleus has been removed. A bit of chemical or electrical stimulation will encourage your cell’s nucleus to begin dividing, creating new cells which will then be placed into a tissue culture. . . . These stem cells are then driven to become the very neural cells that are defective in Parkinson’s patients. And finally, those cells — with your DNA — are injected into your brain where they will replace the faulty cells whose failure to produce adequate dopamine led to the Parkinson’s disease in the first place.

That’s a good a summary of the cloning process, with typical “therapeutic cloning” hype-hope added. But wait a minute. What’s missing?  Only the fact that when “your cell” is placed in the egg what results is a human embryo, as much a human embryo as the embryo that results from natural conception or in vitro fertilization. This is the crucial missing step: an embryo is created, and that embryo is then destroyed – “disaggregated” is one technical term used – to harvest the stem cells. 

Big Lie #1 in his cloning sales talk is that, “they are not, in and of themselves, human beings.”

In fact cloning makes embryos, and extracting the embryo stem cells kills them. 

To deny that the process Ron Reagan describes makes a “fetus” is of course as ridiculous as denying that it makes a three-year old child. Human fertilization and human cloning make human embryos, the tiny, genetically complete, members of our species that you and I once were.

But side by side with his candid advocacy of this macabre, unethical science – in which your own embryonic twin is created and destroyed to cure your illness – he sets:

Big Lie #2 is that “their belief is just that, an article of faith, and they are entitled to it. But it does not follow that the theology of a few should be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many.”

A huge lie. A necessary lie. A lie that will have been unnoticed by almost all those at the Convention, and almost all those reading reports of what he said. It’s a lie he may even believe himself.

It is untrue that mass-production embryo cloning is opposed only by pro-life Christians. His argument needs this lie, since it provides him the simplest way to dismiss his opponents. It is so convenient.

His meaning is unambiguous. He is asserting that the only opposition to cloning comes from pro-lifers who see it as “murder.” Moreover, he says, they are driven by theological arguments. Yet as those of us who have been following this debate know well, there is opposition to cloning embryos for research purposes from just about every quarter of the culture; and they include the most vigorously pro-choice elements around.

For example, in a letter signed by around 100 pro-choice feminist leaders, a plea has been made for a moratorium on cloning embryos for research. Pro-choice feminists have taken this view for several reasons, one of them being the need for vast numbers of human eggs to be “donated” to make this experimental medicine work.

For example, the pro-choice United Methodist Church is on record as opposing cloning embryos.

For example, the radical environmental group Friends of the Earth is against it too.

For example – and this really is the clincher – in the past four months comprehensive bans on cloning, including for the exact purpose that Ron Reagan wants it, have been made law in both Canada and France. These now join other nations as diverse as Norway, Australia, and Germany, which had already added cloning for any purpose to their criminal code. And in Germany – where it carries a penalty of five years’ imprisonment – they know a thing or two about unethical science.

Of course, the reason that Ron Reagan was able to get away with his “theology of a few” argument is that the American press has almost totally failed to report these facts: many feminists and environmentalists oppose research cloning, as do many pro-choice United Methodists, as do many nations around the world which are not run by pro-lifers.

Broad based opposition to cloning is not exactly a secret. Remember the two massive bipartisan votes in favor of a comprehensive cloning ban in the House of Representatives? Remember the floor speech by Bernie Sanders, the House’s one Socialist member? Remember that the Senate bill that seeks a full cloning ban is co-sponsored by pro-choice Democrat Mary Landrieu? These are all matters of record, and they are being willfully ignored by journalists and politicians who are seeking to gerrymander public sentiment into this ghastly science.

So while we thank Ron Reagan for his candor in cutting to the chase and making the pitch for mass-production cloning that lies behind all the “embryo stem cell” discussions, he has brought our attention to the lies that dominate the American debate through a conspiracy of silence in the press – a conspiracy that gets less forgivable every day.