Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 19 May 1997

"SOON THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS CHILD WILL BE BORN!" Clone Rights Group Appeals to President's National Bioethics Advisors

Pop-Culture-Watch, Heterodoxy, Hails GayToday's Cloning Coverage

By Warren D. Adkins


Well-reasoned scientific presentations and well-stated pro-cloning views expressed by Clone Rights United Front may have had unexpected effects on a hurried 90-day investigation, one addressing ethical questions about human cloning under the auspices of the 18-member National Bioethics Advisory Commission. This formerly-dormant group was given its quick time-table by President Clinton in February, immediately following the cloning of Dolly, a Scottish-born sheep.

Early reports indicate that while the Commission has called for at least a temporary moratorium on human cloning, no feasible arguments have been raised--in any reputable scientific sense--against the eventual birthing and development of human clones. Dr. Bernard Lo, a member of the Commission and director of the Program in Medical Ethics at the University of California, said the group was "grappling with what it is about cloning that has raised such strong emotions." Although some moralists and religious leaders argue that cloning is inhuman, anti-family, and narcissistic, Dr. Lo said, "the problem the group confronted was that there was no one compelling reason why cloning should be banned."

Randolfe Wicker, founder of Clone Rights United Front (CRUF) and the world's first pro-cloning activist, will answer questions on Sunday, May 25 in the New York Times Magazine, including a clone-era photograph of the 59-year old pioneer. Wicker, a leading voice in the 1960's pre-Stonewall gay movement, was the first openly gay person to go on radio and TV as such. A sharp-tongued media wizard armed with what OUT magazine calls "machine gun" oratorical powers, Wicker, who felt inspired directly after Dolly's birth, announced in the middle of his pro-cloning interview with Badpuppy's GayToday that he would found the world's first cloning activist group. He made good on that promise the next morning, officially registering CRUF, and taking pronounced activist steps.

"Who wants to settle for whatever pops out of the womb, for old-fashioned random collisions of sperm and eggs," he asks, "when now, on the very horizon, there's going to be such a thing as reproduction without compromise! You won't have to wonder what's going to pop out, you'll decide ahead of time!" (See contents for GayToday's continuing series on cloning).

Wicker's statement to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission said:

"Any laws and/or regulations proposed by your group, however well-intentioned, will inevitably be both premature and flawed. Could 'the abuse of' atomic energy have been 'prevented' by a commission like this one back in 1941 before basic facts about it were even known? Of course not.

"You have been told to answer questions, the essence of which is not yet known. You would best honor the first 'to do no harm' ethical imperative of medical practice by not rushing to judgment and calling for unenforceable prohibitions or restraints on science's quest for knowledge about the cloning of human beings.

"The Clone Rights United Front speaks for that 7% of the population, between fifteen and twenty-million Americans, that polls consistently show want to be cloned.

"Our 'Clone Bill of Rights' succinctly states our view that governmental and religious institutions have no right to legally interfere in this most personal area of reproductive freedom and choice. To be cloned or not to be cloned must ultimately be an individual's choice, a decision to be made between that individual and their personal physician."

The 3-point Clone Bill of Rights (see Cloning series in GayToday contents) was quoted in Wicker's statement and he continued:

"It is hard to show moral leadership when polls show that some 87% of the public oppose the cloning of human beings. Twenty-five years ago, similar public hysteria erupted over news that human embryos had been conceived in dishes and implanted into surrogate mothers. With knowledge came understanding and attitudes changed.

"Someday soon (Dr. Ian Wilmut predicts within the next two years) the world's most famous child will be born--the first human being conceived through cloning.

"The Flat Earth Society didn't keep Columbus from discovering the New World. The Luddites couldn't stop the industrial revolution. The Clone Rights United Front rejoices in knowing that nothing can abort or prevent the promising age of human cloning from dawning!

"We urge the National Bioethics Advisory Commission to consider the following recommendations:

"(A) Additional research and information is necessary before any Federal guidelines, regulations or restrictions on human cloning research, or human cloning, are issued.

"(B) The Federal government's role should be to encourage scientific discovery, to expand information and knowledge. Whenever appropriate, it should discourage, contest or seek to override state laws that inhibit legitimate, humanely structured research on cloning or related areas.

"(C) For now, research on human cloning should be monitored by those professional and medical societies, peer review committees, etc., who are the only ones with the specialized knowledge necessary to judge and evaluate them.

"In conclusion," said Wicker's statement, "let us re-emphasize that the wisest course of action, the most certain way for the Commission 'to do no harm' would be to do nothing. Anything more threatens to undermine the civil and reproductive rights of all Americans, and to burden science's pursuit of knowledge with the petty pitfalls of contemporary politics."

Christopher Rapp, writing in Heterodoxy magazine (April/May), published in Los Angeles by the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, says of Wicker, "If some aspects of his quest seem like a subplot from Les Cages aux Folles, Wicker is quite serious in his belief that human cloning should appeal to the gay community. And, in fact, the Internet magazine, GayToday, has been instrumental in promoting the CRUF, and its literally non-stop coverage led to the group's first national coverage, a story on the front page of USA Today's "Life" section, which, in turn landed Wicker on guest spots on the conservative Bob Grant and Bay Buchanan talk shows, in addition to New York-area TV coverage."

"Indeed," says Heterodoxy's reporter, "despite the caution urged by Clinton, Wilmut and others (six other states are considering restrictions), it looks as though scientists--and Wicker--have won this round of the cultural debate."

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