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2003

Good clone, bad clone ?

par Abby Lippman, geneticist , McGill University in Montreal






Écrits d'Élaine Audet



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DANS LA MEME RUBRIQUE


Burkini Is a Feminist Issue Too
The notion that it’s ok for disabled men to pay for sex is rooted in misogyny and ableism
Egyptian doctor living in Zurich produces educational videos about health and sexuality for the Arab world
Amnesty International and Prostitution : Not in Our Name !
Open letter to rabble.ca - Support Meghan Murphy suffered a misogynist campaign by the sex industry lobby
"Insectual - The Secret of the Black Butterfly", by Barbara Sala
Canada’s New Sex Trade Law
Sharia Law, Apostasy and Secularism
“Harm reduction” is not enough to appropriately analyze prostitution
True Progressives Encourage Women’s Equality, Not Their Prostitution
Sexual mutilations outside Africa : new report and new denial except the Iraqi case
FGM slowing down ? The UN asserts it, the Indonesian case contradicts it
Prostitution, STRASS and the senator - When opacity becomes relevant
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Comparing Sex Buyers and Non-Sex Buyers July 2011 (Boston)
Sex resistance in heterosexual arrangements
Abolitionists of the prostitution system : who we are, what we want !
Women Living Under Muslim Laws Statement on Libya
Prostitution is a Threat to Humanity
Prostitution - Call for Australia’s prostitution laws to be tightened
Violence - An Open Letter from Black Women to SlutWalk Organizers
Nothing that is sexual can be considered criminal : hidden sexual violence in the DSK case
The Truth about Global Sex Slavery – A Book by Lydia Cacho
Why reproductive rights and prostitution are not the same thing : A response to one decriminalization argument
Prostitution - The abolitionist project within the conference Women’s Worlds 2011
Montreal - The Turcotte jury got it wrong
Reasons I Will Not Go On the Slutwalk
International Sex Industries and their Accomplices Hamper the Autonomy of All Women
Ten Critical Reasons for getting rid of Harper’s Conservatives
Real solidarity with prostituted women is in the fight for abolition of prostitution
Decriminalize prostituted persons and criminalize those who exploit them (‘johns’ and pimps)
Polygamy in Canada Should Remain Illegal
My fears of the push for indoors prostitution
We cannot be satisfied with the simple harm-reduction model
The Native Women’s Association of Canada is Worried About Himel’s Judgement on Prostitution
Ontario Court Decision Abandons Aboriginal Women and Women of Colour to Pimps
Response to the VPD review in the cases of the Pickton Murders
Speech - The effects of globalization of political Islam on Women’s Rights, the question with polygamy, the Niqab and Honour Killing
Quebec Forges Enlightened Trail on Burkas
Breast Cancer a Disease, No a Marketing Opportunity
The International Campaign To Closedown Iranian Embassies
Violation of rights in Iran, a window from my experience to a broader picture
"Sex worker" ? Never met one !
The Prostitutors
The One Million Signatures Campaign has been awarded the prestigious Global Women’s Rights Award from the Feminist Majority Foundation
Prostitution - Feminist Perspectives, a book
Prostitution : Violating the Human Rights of Poor Women
More than 1 000 american historians call for equity in the stimulus package in open letter to Obama
Order of Canada Awarded to Dr. Morgentaler - Acts of intimidation should not rule Canada
Femaid report on Afghanistan, May 2008
Time for Quebecers to be more open : Bouchard-Taylor report
Canadian Bar Association supports strengthening equality in the Quebec Charter
Zero Tolerance for Johns : How the Government of Sweden Would Respond to Spitzer
Politicians are responsible for toxic, misogynist environment facing girls
Spitzer - The Myth of the Victimless Crime
Goodbye To All That (#2)
The freedom to never prostitute oneself
NO legalized brothels for the Olympics 2010 - Aboriginal women’s Action Network statement on prostitution
CLES says NO to the violence of prostitution
Does Porn Make the Man ?
A Trip Into the Absurd
Mothers File International Complaint Against United States
Prostitutes are victims, not criminals
Anthology of Québec Women’s Plays in English Translation, Volume I (1966-1986)
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Prostitution - Three Women and a Debate
Men Favour the Apolitical Discourse on Prostitution
The Whole Truth Must be Told : Sylviane’s testimony on her experience of prostitution
Democracy and Religious Obligations : an Impasse ?
What is liberation ? Feminism past, present and future
Books by Andrea Dworkin
Globalization, Militarism and Sex Trafficking
Muslim Groups Denounce the Cultural Relativism of a Certain Left
Canadian Muslim leader alleges her veil views sparked vandalism
Prostitution : CATW’S Post-World Cup Statement
NOW to denounce so-called parental alienation
Prostitution : for an Abolitionist Bill
The dimensions of trafficking for purposes of prostitution
"Charm is a Guise ; Batterers Belong in Jail, Expert Says"
Interview with Catherine MacKinnon : Are Women Human ?
Danish cartoons - Doing away with the Enlightenment ?
It’s happening next door : from incestuous girls to alienating mothers
Green Light for Pimps and Johns
Buying Sex is not a Sport
Prostitution is Violence Against Women
The Ideal Site for the Crime
Tell me, what does "gender" really mean ?
Gunilla Ekberg : « The best thing we can do for our sisters is to support them to get out of prostitution »
Interview with Catharine A. MacKinnon : « They haven’t crushed me yet. »
Decriminalizing prostitution, a magnet for pimps and johns
Lovesick
Declaration on Religious Arbitration in Family Law
Prostitution : Towards a Canadian policy of abolition
Prostitution inseparable of violence against women
The need for a public debate on prostitution and its social consequences
Prostitution of First Nations Women in Canada
270 000 $ granted to Stella for a four days event on sex work
IN MEMORIAM : Andrea Dworkin or The passion for justice
Decriminalizing prostitution will not improve the security of prostituted women
Dworkin - Taking Back the Night
Backlash and Whiplash : A Critique of Statistics Canada’s 1999 General Social Survey on Victimization
Helping the prostituted women or promoting prostitution ?
The Need for a Public Debate on Prostitution and its Social Consequences
The legalization of prostitution and its impact on trafficking in women and children
Prostitution Links, Women’s Justice Center
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Sweden Treating Prostitution as Violence Against Women
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Why Women Must Get out of Men’s Laps
International Campaing Against Shari’a Court in Canada
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Fathers’ Rights Groups in Australia and their Engagement with Issues in Family Law
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The Legalisation of Prostitution : A failed social experiment
Globalization and the Sex Trade : Trafficking and the Commodification of Women and Children
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Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN Labour Organization (ILO) Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part One)
Legitimating Prostitution as Sex Work : UN International Labour Organization Calls for Recognition of the Sex Industry (Part Two)
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Prostitution : Rights of Women or Right to Women ?
The "Stolen Feminism" Hoax : Anti-Feminist Attack Based on Error-Filled Anecdotes
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A report from Status of Women Canada about the discursive denial of gender inequalities
Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution
Poem for Peace
Peace Rally Speech of a 12 year old American Girl
Canadian Women’s Health Network
So hard to say goodbye







Not many major stories break between Christmas and New Years ; this is considered "slow news" time. So perhaps this explains the excessive media attention to Clonaid’s announcement on 27 December that "Eve," the "first cloned human" had been born. Perhaps, too, it excuses all the writers and broadcasters who forgot lesson one of journalism school : check your sources. After all, would we have had first-page headlines - even during the holiday season - if the extraterrestrial devotees who call themselves Raelians announced, for example, that they had turned lead into gold, or had produced some elixir to prolong life indefinitely ?

Whatever, these 21st century alchemists and their claims of a universal remedy did get attention. And now some have rushed to print, protesting that this attention will "scare" the Canadian government into adopting an "inappropriate cloning law." They refer specifically to Bill C-13, to be debated in Parliament in the coming weeks. This bill contains clauses that would prohibit the creation of embryos for research and, thereby, prohibit (in part) what is called "therapeutic" cloning.

"Therapeutic" cloning involves, basically, the same procedures as those employed to clone for reproductive ("making a baby") purposes. A cell is taken from an adult, its nucleus is removed and then placed into an egg cell from which the nucleus has been removed. This technique is called, in scientific jargon, "somatic cell nuclear transfer." Using various chemical and/or electric measures, this egg cell with its new nucleus is stimulated to divide and give rise to either a whole organism (e.g., Dolly the sheep) or used to produce a specific line of cells (so-called therapeutic cloning to make new hearts, kidneys, etc.).

With "making babies" labeled by almost all (Raelians and a few others, excepted) as "bad" cloning, "therapeutic" cloning is now being set up as the "good" kind. And a kind of cloning its defenders claim is now at great risk of being criminalized if Bill C-13 goes ahead as currently written.

Many researchers and traditional bioethicists who are arguing for this "good clone"/"bad clone" dichotomy have begun to make claims almost as contentious as those of the Raelians. Perhaps worse : they have clothed their claims in ways that, inadvertently or not, distract attention from why we need to be critical of ALL cloning. Making general promises - and this is all they are : promises - that it represents "life-saving research" that will give "sick people hope," and that protecting the right of scientists to do work with "honorable ends" is essential, those pushing for "therapeutic cloning" turn critics into uncaring luddites. When proponents further argue that their work is necessary to ensure that Canada does not lose its competitive edge by forcing this research elsewhere where restrictions do not exist, they frame critics as potentially responsible for a weakening economy and a further "brain drain." Heavy charges, all. But do they have any merit ?

Basically, there is no "good and bad" cloning. There is cloning. Clauses to prohibit the creation of embryos for research and for reproductive AND therapeutic cloning were put into Bill C-13 - and its predecessors, Bills C-56 and C-47 - way before the Raelian shenanigans made front-page news. And the reasons for retaining them remain as they were then and have always been : the need for creating cloned embryos to obtain embryonic stem cells has yet to be established (and may never be). The rationales given for this technology are based on dreams, more than reality, on promises of "cures" and predictions of economic profit, rather than on approaches to major health problems ; and the eugenics that is necessarily a core part of this technology is morally unacceptable.

Those who object to therapeutic cloning on religious grounds note that making these cell lines (as for some organ to replace a failing one) involves the killing of the embryo, since the latter is necessarily destroyed in the process. But, it is not just "anti-choice/pro-life" groups who have concerns about "therapeutic" cloning. Others object to it on secular ethical grounds.

First, there are the very serious women’s health concerns raised by this technology that relies on the use of powerful chemicals to induce egg formation prior to their extraction from women’s bodies (itself, a risky process). Moreover, cloning may also involve commercialization with women paid for providing the eggs without which none of this can be done. We must never forget that ALL cloning, all in vitro embryo creation, requires an egg. And these eggs have only once source : the manipulated body of a living woman.

Beyond this, we must recognize that if cloning is legitimized as therapy, alteration of the human species becomes an accepted consumer activity. If cloning is legitimized as therapy, human enhancement and regeneration become pay-as-you-go (pun intended) activities in a commercial marketplace. These will not be "side" effects, but effects built into the very procedure itself. The technology is not neutral, with "uses" (good ; e.g., therapeutic cloning) we should promote and "abuses" (bad ; e.g., reproductive cloning) we can regulate. Rather, the means ("therapeutic" cloning) necessarily embrace ends of all kind.

We should not fool ourselves and think "therapeutic" cloning is (only, or only primarily) about obtaining stem cells that will lead to saving fragile babies, rescuing doomed children, restoring full physical function to chronically ill individuals, or any of the other advertised reasons its proponents put forth. First of all, there is today no research to back up the wide claims being made ; most of the work has been done only in animal models, and these often do not match the human experience. More important, however, is that a need for "therapeutic" cloning to create embryonic stem cells has been grossly exaggerated. Already, other sources of stem cells and other innovative potential treatments for such disorders as Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, and spinal cord injuries are under research and development, treatments that do not involve creating embryos or cloning adult cells. And perhaps most important : "therapeutic" cloning cannot but lead to (further) commerce in human body parts.

In thinking about "therapeutic" cloning we should NOT picture the smiling "cured" baby proponents eagerly display but, rather, what would be a more likely : an aging white male sequentially morphed, first with a "new" kidney, then a "new" heart, perhaps then a "new" liver and a few new "brain cells," etc. (For a parallel, think of an aging car : first the brakes, then the carburetor, then some body work, then a new ignition system, etc. After a few sessions with the mechanics, the old jalopy will be a springy "new" sedan.) In other words, as each organ gets worn down, cloned cells derived from embryonic stem cell are injected, giving him (though by now one might wonder : who is this "he" we are renovating ?) a re-made body. And whose bodies would be "eligible" for this treatment ? Who would be able to afford it, and at what costs to the rest of us ?

We are already well on the path to the completely commercialized reproduction of commodified children. Sperm is available for sale on the internet ; "surrogate" mothers advertise their availability for those seeking such services. Do we want to add egg providers for cloning to the menus ? Donor-matched embryo stem cells obtained via therapeutic cloning using third-party eggs could provide a commercial cash cow to private companies without making any contribution to the public’s health.

Bill C-13 is far from being perfect legislation. I argued this several months ago when it was known as Bill C-56. However, fixing its serious weaknesses (e.g., it doesn’t completely prohibit pay for surrogacy ; it does not include an open system to enable children born to learn the identities of those from whose sperm and eggs they came, etc.), will not be helped by a split of the bill as members of the Bloq and others have suggested. To the contrary, a split - to criminalize human cloning and its related practices, while leaving surrogacy, regulation, monitoring, etc. for another day - will likely only give steam to the continuation of practices we need stopped now. It will lead us further toward the acceptance of "therapeutic" cloning, and most probably, keep us in the regulatory limbo where we’ve been for over a decade.

Already too much time has passed without any legislation. We’ve seen many experimental approaches, all with risks to women’s health, become established practices, all without surveillance and monitoring.

So, let’s ignore the fear-mongering of those pushing for "therapeutic" cloning. Putting a halt to this activity now will NOT cause deaths or discomfort to anyone ; letting it go forward, by accepting the self-serving claims of its proponents might. Let us lobby for passage of Bill C-13 NOW and ensure that we do all we can to prohibit ALL cloning, all creation of embryos for research. Enough is enough.

Mis en ligne sur Sisyphe le 23 janvier 2003


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Abby Lippman, geneticist , McGill University in Montreal



Professor at the Departement of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of McGill University, Abby Lippman divides her life between academia and activism, teaching and doing research (McGill University), and devoting long hours to extensive community work (provincially and nationally). A long-time feminist critic of genetic and reproductive technologies and of "geneticization," she’s been a member of national and international groups that deal with social
justices issues related to women’s health.



Plan-Liens Forum

  • > Good clone, bad clone ?
    (1/1) 27 août 2004 , par





  • > Good clone, bad clone ?
    27 août 2004 , par   [retour au début des forums]

    i think cloning should be allowed, though i agree with the doctor, but u see its better controlled then hidden from naked eyes.
    Sajjad Rizvi
    Pakistan
    Jackofice@hotmail.com


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