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Science and Spirit: Making Babies
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How to Make a Baby

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The Raelians and Clonaid

There are simply too many possible benefits from genetics to reject all research into this promising field. However, as we learned so tragically when the secrets of the atom were revealed in the 20th century, the potential for heinous misapplication of new discoveries is awesome. And, for people who will do anything to conceive, the potential for deception and greed is shocking. -- the Editor


Q: What kind of legislation is being passed in the U.S. to ban human cloning?
A: Only four states have banned any type of cloning research: California, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Louisiana. So feel free to clone away in any other states. But remember that if you sodomize your clone in Virginia, you'll go to jail.

They call themselves the world's largest UFO-related non-profit organization, boasting more than 55,000 members in 84 countries. The International Raelian Religion was founded in 1973 by a Claude Vorilhon, who was seized by a strange impulse one morning while driving to work that would profoundly change his life (and his fashion statement).

Driving instead to a Puy-de-Lassolas volcano, Vorilhon claims that a UFO appeared and descended and he received his first contact by the extra-terrestrials previously known by Judeo-Christians as "the Elohim". These humanoid aliens, from which the human race is descended according to Raelian lore, selected him to serve as their spokesman in order to announce their return to the Earth, and they bestowed on him the name "Rael", a name by which he is now known to his followers.

By 1997, Rael had raised more than $7 million dollars to build an embassy for the Elohim, and has been earnestly trying to get permission to build it in Jerusalem. In hopes that it would help, he even obtained permission from the Elohim to change the original symbol of the Movement, a swastika inscribed in the Star of David, to improve prospects of obtaining land in Israel. (Good thinking there, IMHO.) The new symbol still uses the Star of David motif, with added swirls meeting at the center to represent the eternity of time and matter.

So far, Israel has made no indication that it will allow the Raelians to build their embassy there, and Rael has stated that they will just have to built it in nearby Egypt or even in Palestine should the Israelis ultimately deny the Movement's building plans.

Clonaid, the cash cow of the Raelian movement, has been in the news this month with claims that two babies have been successfully born using cloning. After seeing her appearances at news conferences, I was prepared to dismiss Brigitte Boisselier, spokeswoman and scientific mind for Clonaid. After some research, however, I was more inclined to respect and to sympathize with her. She is evidently a more-than-competent scientist who lost both her private sector job and the custody of one of her sons because of her religious beliefs. Although Clonaid has yet to give any proof of their cloning claims, she has impressed others in the fields of microbiology and genetic research with her capability. She left a teaching position at Hamilton College in order to devote all her efforts to Clonaid, and is evidently quite sincere in her dedication to both achieving successes in human cloning and in the Raelian movement. Despite my first gut reaction to her appearance, I don't think she's only in it for the money or notoriety.

It seems to be one of life's synchronicities that I had just finished reading John Case's bestseller, "The Genesis Code" (Ballantine/Random House, 1997). Whether cloning is ethical is a very complex question, to which I can only make the very same response I give to whether abortion is ethical: it is a personal decision which a woman (or scientist) should make for herself, based on what is best for her life and for the life of the child. There are simply too many possible benefits from cloning research to reject it without exception; but, like atomic energy research, the potential for heinous misapplication of discoveries is awesome.

The book deals with these questions within a fictional context, but with very real dynamics. The author is an investigative reporter with a strong background in international intelligence, and the book examines many real-life institutions, which literally hold power over life and death for cloning and reproductive rights. The two issues -- conception and abortion -- are really flip sides of the same coin, and applying the will of humankind to either are equally condemned by the Roman Catholic Church. The ethical hot potato of cloning is explored through the investigation of bizarre murders of mothers and the children they conceived through in vitro fertilization in this book, which is entertaining but also informative and thought provoking. -- The Editor

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"Always remember that certain circumstances are not ours to alter. We make the most of them and go on. We can only be examples, never controllers of other people's lives, other people's children, other people's circumstances."  ~ from 'THINK on THESE THINGS' by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Cloning Raelians
Today's question is:
It takes Mr. Rael one week to clone a Dr. Brigitte. It takes Ms. Brigitte one hour to clone one press release. If Mr. Rael keeps cloning Dr. Brigittes, and each Dr. Brigitte keeps cloning press releases, how long will it take Mr. Rael and the Dr. Brigittes to cover the surface of the earth exactly 37 times with press releases? We leave this as an exercise for the reader. -- From Marc Abrahams' Mini-Annals of Improbable Research

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Cloney Baloney

Learn about cloning techniques, laws, research trends, and the reasons people want to be cloned. Watch videos explaining how clones are made.

Eggs Made From Embryos

Reprogramming a step towards safer reproductive cloning.

By tweaking the chemical conditions in a test tube, researchers have for the first time coaxed stem cells from an embryo to produce a clutch of eggs. The step offers scientists a new way to probe the genetic programming of the cells that give rise to every part of the body. The achievement also paves the way for creating sperm or eggs for infertile couples.


A claim by pro-life campaigners that the law on human embryology left open the risk of a free-for-all in the field of therapeutic cloning was rejected by the House of Lords today.

Five law lords unanimously dismissed an appeal in which the Pro-Life Alliance argued that embryo cloning for medical research purposes fell outside the scope of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

They also rejected the alliance's alternative argument: that, if the creation of embryos by cloning was covered by the act, it was specifically prohibited and could not be licensed.

the situation regarding therapeutic cloning for cell research remained unclear until the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court ruling.

Upholding the appeal judge's decision today, Lord Bingham said Parliament, in passing the 1990 legislation, could not rationally be regarded as having intended to leave CNR embryos outside the scope of the act "had it known of them as a scientific possibility".


The how, why, and ethical dilemmas of cloning from the cells of dead people.
There are scientists out there trying to bring the dead back to life. They're not mad, but they are dedicated, because they believe it will happen, sooner or later. It might not occur on a cold stone slab, there probably won't be lightning flashing between huge electrodes, and it definitely won't take place in a gothic German castle. But it will happen. Somewhere, scientists will revive the dead--and not just an individual, but an entire species.

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