Re “Next, Really Prolific Cows,” editorial, Feb. 25: The Times would have us believe that the recent cloning of a sheep by Scottish scientists, and their subsequent assertion that a human cloning would be similarly possible, poses no ethical threat. To accomplish this Herculean bit of logical analysis, a straw man worthy of Hollywood has been established, by which you assert that fears associated with such an endeavor are to be understood in light of science fiction fantasy of the 1970s, plots which inevitably involve the cloning of a U.S. president or Adolf Hitler. Sadly, it is not quite that simple.
A host of ethical dilemmas are now suddenly thrust into the public arena, and given the nature of this scientific advance, there is little reason to suspect that it will be otherwise in the foreseeable future. Rather than passing off this difficult problem by appealing to the role which environment plays in the development of both our best and worst, ask instead what you will tell a couple whose only child lies brain-dead as a result of an automobile accident, or another couple whose only child needs an exact match for a kidney transplant. What will be said of the possibility of cloning then?
You correctly quote medical ethicist Dr. Ronald Munson, who states, “The genie is out of the bottle.” While it would be foolish to hope to recapture that genie, we can with vigilance and political will ensure its containment.
JAMES R. HARRIGAN
That’s all Scotland needs--a sheep exactly like one of the thousands it already has.