6 January 2002
I listen to talk radio, sometimes, when driving around and yesterday caught snippets of
a program which has had me thinking ever since.
The topic was the announcement recently of the supposedly cloned babies now being born.
The talk show host was repulsed by the whole idea. In some respects she made good points.
She talked about the number of children languishing in foster homes or state homes waiting
for a family and how selfish it was to use questionable technology to bring new children
into the world when there are so many without parents already.
While I understand her position, there were things she said that bothered me a lot.
First of all she put down the notion of lesbians giving birth to a cloned baby. It was the
way she said "lesbian," spitting it out each time as if it were a slice of
rotten fruit she'd accidentally bitten into. I have never listened to this talk show host,
so perhaps I was reading things into it, but she said the word each time the same way, so
that it was really starting to grate on my nerves and if I had had my cell phone with me,
I might have called in to the show.
If we are to allow cloning (and I realize that is a questionable thing at this point),
why not lesbians?
Did you see the recent article in the paper which said the first baby of the year in
the Washington, DC area was born to a lesbian couple? The telling thing about this story
is that the women, who lived in Virginia, had to move to Maryland in order to legally
share parental responsibility because Maryland offers second parent adoptions, which
Virginia (and I believe most states) does not.
There are many horror stories of lesbian couples who have chosen to become parents.
Should the biological mother die, the surviving parent has no rights whatsoever and it is
possible (and has happened) that the relatives of the dead woman will come in and legally
remove the child from the only surviving parent s/he has ever known. The surviving parent
has no legal grounds whatsoever.
Until the laws change, allowing same gender couples to co-parent legally, cloning seems
to be a viable alternative--if one mother gives birth to the biological clone of the
other, will that be a way of protecting the parental rights of the non biological parent?
It's really a brave new world--but we do have the technology and I suppose it's
time to look at options.
(Of course a lot of my reservations match a lot of people's, that being that this is a
science which is not yet perfected and animal clones have not fared well--is it fair to
bring a cloned human into the world, with the potential for problems we have not begun to
The second possibility the talk show host brought up is the instance of parents who
have taken DNA from a dying child in order to produce its clone. On this issue, I feel I
am very qualified to offer an opinion.
If I had been young enough to consider having another baby, would I have chosen to
clone David or Paul? Very definitely no.
The thing that needs to be remembered is that a child is a product not only of his/her
DNA, but also of the environment, life experiences, and other things that enter into the
growing-up experience. If I produced a cloned David, would he, at age 24, be the son we
lost? I don't think so. (I'm thinking of Boys from Brazil, the experiment to clone
Hitler, and how varied the results were, due to the growing-up experiences of the boys).
But there is an even more dangerous thing with cloning a dead child. The child has no
knowledge of or memory of his dead (sibling? self?) yet will parents have unfair
expectations? If I had a cloned Paul, would I push him into theatre? Without the
experiences the original Paul had, the group of friends who all enjoyed theatre and music
so much together, would Clone Paul grow to feel inferior? Would he become angry because I
had become what I was not with the original Paul--a stage mother?
It seems that a child born after the death of a beloved child, whether a clone or not,
needs to be his/her own person, to use his/her own life experiences to determine the path
that the adult life is going to take. I might look at my adult clone and see David and
Paul, but in point of fact, they would not actually be David and Paul. They would
be unique individuals who just happened to have the same DNA as our dead sons.
With all the dangers to the clone through the as yet unperfected technology, it seems
that it would be saddling the unborn child with more problems from the getgo.
Actually, of the two scenarios--lesbian clones, dead child clones--the argument, in my
mind, is much stronger for the lesbian couple.
(Of course it would be a heck of a lot easier--and safer--to just legalize second party