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Dolores Meehan:
"This proposition will give birth to the Human Cloning Age."

Ignatius Insight asked Catholics for the Common Good San Francisco spokesperson Dolores Meehan about the proposition:

IgnatiusInsight.com: First of all, as a Catholic you know there are daily assaults on the Culture of Life. Is there something that makes this proposition worse?

Dolores Meehan:
Yes, what makes this proposition so frightening is that it will finance the creation of human life, via cloning, that by law must be destroyed.

This law makes a distinction between "reproductive" cloning and "therapeutic" cloning. Proponents of human cloning have created this distinction, which is functional rather than substantive, in order to steer people away from the notion of cloned people running around. They say "reproductive" cloning is bad but "therapeutic" cloning is good.

The only difference between these two "types" of cloning are how the cloned embryo is used. If the embryo derived from cloning is allowed to be born, proponents call this "reproductive" cloning. If the embryo, derived from cloning, is gestated to any stage other than birth and used for his/her body parts (i.e.–killed), proponents call this "therapeutic" cloning.

Interestingly enough, some pro-choice feminists, such as Judy Norsigian, (author of the feminist bible Our Bodies, Ourselves) are against human cloning. Why? Because human cloning requires a huge amount of eggs. The only successfully cloned embryo required 246 eggs to create one cloned embryo. For feminists, this insatiable demand for eggs poses an untenable potential for exploitation of women, particularly poor women.

IgnatiusInsight.com: What exactly does Proposition 71 do? Where does the money come from and where does it go?

Proposition 71 amends the California State Constitution to create a "right" to conduct this type of research. California voters may remember the last time the state constitution was amended by a proposition–Proposition 13, which placed a cap on property taxes.

Proposition 71 disburses $295 million/year over the course of ten years to biotech companies and research facilities to fund research into embryonic stem cell research and human cloning research. This proposition actually lists adult stem research and cord blood stem cell research as areas of research to be funded. But it then goes on to state that priority funding will go to areas of research that are not funded federally–that is, adult stem cell and cord blood stem cell research. So, net, we are looking at all of the $3 billion going to embryonic stem cell research and human cloning research.

This proposition also creates an Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which is staffed by the very scientists and biotech companies who will receive this funding. This institute is not subject to legislative oversight and is not required to hold open meetings. This institution will decide who gets the money.

IgnatiusInsight.com: The money comes from obligatory bonds. What does that mean?

That means that the state is obliged to borrow $3 billion regardless of the condition of our economy. The payback for this bond, based on today’s interest rates, is $6 billion. Proponents and our governor say that it won’t affect the general fund for five years. But after five years, that money must be paid–out of the General Fund.

Just last week, the governor rejected a bid to rebuild the San Francisco Bay Bridge because the state simply does not have the money. The Bay Bridge suffered substantial damage during the 1989 earthquake and is considered a hazard. So, we don’t have money to fix the bridge, but we have money to fund private industry to conduct speculative and controversial research?

And they say that scientists don’t believe in Santa Claus. I disagree. It seems like these guys sat down to write their collective letters to Santa Claus and then decided to draft a ballot initiative in the process: tons of money, no oversight, constitutional amendment. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

IgnatiusInsight.com: The promise of Proposition 71 is that it will provide us with cures to diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and countless others. On October 18th, California Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the proposition. Doesn’t this deserve some consideration?

The only consideration this deserves is to consider why anyone would have voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger. But seriously, the saddest part about the advertisements in favor of Proposition 71 is the false hope they have given people. The truth is that the promise of curing diseases such as Parkinson’s, sickle-cell anemia, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and countless others rests in adult stem cell therapies derived from adult tissue and umbilical cord blood. There have been hundreds if not thousands of successful treatments administered to patients using adult stem cell therapies.

Alzheimer’s disease deserves special mention. Scientists have admitted that the cure for Alzheimer’s will not come from stem cell therapies–neither adult nor embryonic–because Alzheimer’s is a total brain disease, not a cellular disease. Parkinson’s, on the other hand, is a cellular disease and has been successfully treated using a patient’s own adult stem cells.

In contrast, the experiments using embryonic stem cell therapies have been disastrous. Patients have grown tumors and died. Embryonic stem cells are nearly impossible to control; these cells are designed to develop an entire human body, not just one little area of a human body. The other problem with embryonic stem cell therapies is that they always produce tissue rejection problems. Thus, we have cloning. Scientists hope that in using cloned embryos there will be no tissue rejection. However, the problem of tumors is still not resolved, even with cloned embryos.

IgnatiusInsight.com: Many pro-choice and pro-embryonic stem cell research groups oppose this proposition–what are their arguments?

As I stated earlier, some pro-choice groups oppose human cloning. This measure is about cloning. The proponents have done a great job of confusing the issue by using the terms "stem cell research" and "somatic cell nuclear transfer."

Cloning poses a huge risk to women. The drugs used to hyper-ovulate a woman, in order to harvest her eggs, produce many adverse side effects. It is just another way that women will be exploited and feminists, whether pro-choice or pro-life, are loathe to see women exploited.

I am unequivocally pro-life, but I am heartened to see that women who favor a woman’s "right to choose" can see the insanity of this ballot initiative. They understand that abortion is actually irrelevant to this issue, although Planned Parenthood supports Proposition 71.

IgnatiusInsight.com: What is the worst thing about this proposition?

If this proposition passes, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World will be ushered in at taxpayers’ expense. The technology that can be derived from $3 billion of research boggles the mind. Once this technology, specifically cloning, is developed, anyone can use it for whatever purpose. I liken the cloning technology to nuclear technology. People speak of the Nuclear Age; this proposition will give birth to the Human Cloning Age.


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