"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
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?
Meehan: 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 propositionProposition 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 federallythat 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
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
Meehan: 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 todays interest rates, is $6 billion. Proponents and our
governor say that it wont affect the general fund for five years.
But after five years, that money must be paidout of the General
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 dont have money to fix the bridge, but we have
money to fund private industry to conduct speculative and controversial
And they say that scientists dont 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 Parkinsons, Alzheimers,
diabetes and countless others. On October 18th, California
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed the proposition. Doesnt
this deserve some consideration?
Meehan: 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 Parkinsons, 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
Alzheimers disease deserves special mention. Scientists have admitted
that the cure for Alzheimers will not come from stem cell
therapiesneither adult nor embryonicbecause Alzheimers
is a total brain disease, not a cellular disease. Parkinsons, on
the other hand, is a cellular disease and has been successfully
treated using a patients 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 propositionwhat are their arguments?
Meehan: 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 womans "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?
Meehan: If this proposition passes, Aldous Huxleys 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.