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SIMPLY BESIDE MYSELF

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 experience?)

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 adoptions!)

Quote of the Day

What would you do if you met yourself--another version of yourself--How would you react?  How would you react to the knowledge that there are an infinite number of versions of yourself?

~David Gerrold, "The Man Who Folded Himself"

Yesterday's Photo

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Could this moment be duplicated?
(in case it's not blatantly obvious to you,
this is Tom and David as
Batman and Robin!)

One Year Ago
It's Like...You Know
At the risk of sounding like a really old fogie, whatever happened to English? Not only has "like" taken on this weird part of speech, but what about "goes". I go...and then she goes...and then we all go.... when "go" really means "say" or "said" or "says." You're not actually moving from one place to another, so go isn't really applicable.

Two Years Ago
The Vets
Just sitting there I realized how your perception of "places" and "things" is colored not only by your happy times with them, but your sad times as well. The Vets has brought us incredible pleasure over the years. We’ve had so many highs there, so many wonderful memories in the scrapbooks of my mind.


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