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Ethical Rights

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Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cells

2. Principles for a cloning regulatory scheme

1. I am addressing community standards for human cloning and research involving human embryos from an ethical perspective, that is what one ought to do given the possibility that cloning technology will develop. A visceral opposition to human cloning does not suffice for policy purposes, but it has nonetheless manifested itself in legislation (the PHC Act). Visceral opposition to women’s suffrage in the 1850s, and visceral support of the White Australia policy before the 1950s, influenced government policy. Australians now reflect on these policies with a sense of incredulousness: how could Australians have implemented and supported such discriminatory policies?

2. It is important that a logical case be made if something that does not directly affect other people is to be prohibited. Australia rightly prohibits killing other people against their will because it does affect other people, however cloning a child does not directly affect other people any more than using in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) to produce a child.

3. I propose three principles that should be considered in assessing the merits of community arguments on human cloning and research involving human embryos.

(a)Principle 1. That the same weight should be given to the interests of others as one gives to one’s own interests.

(b)Principle 2. Genetic discrimination is unacceptable. Discriminating against an individual on the basis of their genome is ethically wrong.

(c)Principle 3. Scientifically, human embryos are collections of cells. They are not rational and self conscious beings, they have no brain, cannot feel pain, and they are not persons. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence for a ‘soul’ for any being or collection of cells (including a human embryo).

 

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