Monday, March 11, 2002

Todd Seavey lays out waht seems to be the pro-cloning argument these days:
  • Insist that those opposed to cloning equate a zygote or embryo with a children and adults.
  • Describe the zygote using words that have little aesthetic appeal. Some hits include "cluster of cells","mindless lump of tissue", "microscopic collection", and other phrases to make people believe their not human.
  • Compare zygotes unfavorably with childeren with diseases and celebrities who have diseases like Michael J. Fox, Christopher Reeve, and Michael Kinsley. Remind readers that research could save these people's lives, but the anti-cloners value the zygotes described in the bullet point above more than these people.
  • Conclude that cloning's opponents are extremists who don't get it, and are callous in the face of real suffering.

In fairness to Seavey, he does seem to at least be trying to be respectful to anti-cloning arguments, especially considering the piece is titled "Editor's Rant," and his apparent contempt for anti-cloners. Still, I have to confront the fallacies in this argument.

One is that pro-lifers consider zygotes to have all the rights of a child or adult. This is not the case, as evidenced my most pro-lifers' support for a "save the life of the mother" exception to abortion bans. We do believe that people already born have more rights than embryos and even fetuses, but hold the pre-born's right not to be killed as higher than the born person's "right" to be free of disease. I really don't think this is such an "extreme" argument.

Seavey writes that opposition to theraputic cloning "becomes a potential form of indirect mass murder in itself, leading as it does to the squelching of valuable, potentially life-saving research." Now, the anti-cloners aren't killing these people, the diseases are. There is no equivalence between murder and opposing a potentially life-saving research avenure for ethical concerns. Seavey's attempt to draw this equivalence reveals a level of desperation on his part.

Seavey goes on to echo Glenn Reynolds's favorite argument -- that opposition to theraputic cloning boils down to "moral revulsion," and this shouldn't be trusted. As I've said before, I'd give this argument a lot more credence if it's proponents would a.) make an argument against anything that doesn't boil down to moral revulsion, and b.) not try to dehumanize embryos by describing their physical characteristics, and not try drum up sympathy by telling sad tales about celebrities. If emotional appeals and aesthetics don't count in making an argument agaist cloning, they shouldn't count in making an argument for it, either.

Wonder how long it will take InstaPundit to favorably link to Seavey's article...
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