Linguistic Cloaking Devices

  You may already have seen the ads featuring a middle- aged couple named Harry and Louise talking about cloning and the Brownback/Landrieu total ban on human cloning (S. 1899). Speaking about destructive embryonic research, Harry asks, "Is it cloning?" "Nooo," replies Louise, "[it] uses an unfertilized egg and a skin cell." Cloning does use an unfertilized egg and a skin cell. Scientists replace the egg's nucleus with that of the skin cell, and an embryo begins to grow into a child. Since when is that not cloning? I ask that because back at Thanksgiving it most certainly was cloning. The news of the "first cloned human embryo" -- as they called it -- came out on the New Scientist website on November 26. The headline read: "First cloned human embryos created," and the article began, "The first cloned human embryos have been created, claims a U.S. biotechnology company . . . " Note the words: "cloned" and "human embryos." It wasn't long before that biotechnology company, Advanced Cell Technology or ACT, and the biotech industry as a whole discovered that the American people are dead set against cloning human embryos for any and every purpose. Asked if they agreed with President Bush's position that all human cloning-for reproduction or for research -- should be banned, 63 percent of Americans agreed, and 48 percent "strongly" agreed. In fact, Americans are so strongly opposed to cloning that 60 percent said they are less likely to vote for a senator if he favors human cloning. The numbers are in: Americans don't want scientists cloning human embryos -- the response of the other side? Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life said it perfectly: "They are working overtime to develop linguistic cloaking devices." So suddenly the biotech industry is saying it's not a cloned human embryo -- it's either an "activated egg," or an "ovasome," or "an unfertilized egg and a skin cell." The idea is if they use terms that are impersonal, non-human, and sound too technical for the rest of us to understand, they can do as they please. Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of Earth, said, ". . . they realize that if they can describe this in some other way, they will not be regulated" -- exactly. But no one would have doubted what those headlines meant last November. What we're seeing now is strictly smoke and mirrors. The organization running the Harry and Louise ads is CuresNow, founded by two prominent Hollywood couples, both of which have children with juvenile diabetes. Both couples, I'm sure, love their kids a lot, and they want a cure. Well, I love my grandson. He's autistic, and while stem cell research doesn't necessarily hold a "cure" for autism, I'd love to find something that does. Having said that, however, there are some prices civilized people should never pay for a cure. Creating an entire class of humans -- however tiny -- to use in lethal experimentation and industrial exploitation goes far beyond what is morally acceptable -- even in searching for cures for kids' diseases. And no amount of linguistic cloaking is going to change that. Human cloning -- whatever you try to call it -- is just plain immoral.   Take Action: Some U.S. Senators are still undecided about a total ban on human cloning! Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to connect with your senators, and urge them to support S. 1899, the Human Cloning Prohibition Act. Call today! For further reading and information: "Poll on American Support of Human Cloning," conducted by the polling company? for Stop Human Cloning, 13-15 April 2002. "HIAA 'Stunned' By New Ad Campaign Featuring 'Harry and Louise,'" Health Insurance Association of America press release, 25 April 2002. "Testimony of Dr. Brent Blackwelder, President of Friends of the Earth, Before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Concerned the Cloning of Humans and Genetic Modifications," 24 January 2002. Damian Carrington, "First cloned human embryos created," New Scientist, 26 November 2001. "Bioethics and the Christian: A 'BreakPoint' Conversation with Joni Eareckson Tada" Learn more about cloning at the Americans to Ban Cloning website. Also, visit the Council for Biotechnology Policy website here. You can receive the Council's free e-newsletter and announcements by sending an e-mail to  


Chuck Colson


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