Gazing Into The Abyss

     If you’re not aware of Catholic moral theory – and even many Catholics aren’t fully aware of it – you might not have become acquainted with the “five non-negotiables” of the Catholic Church: i.e., the five subjects on which no alteration in doctrine will ever be contemplated:

  1. Abortion;
  2. Same-sex marriage;
  3. Embryonic stem-cell research;
  4. Euthanasia;
  5. Human cloning.

     The piece just below this one concerned euthanasia, and the “unthinkable horror” of conjoining it with organ harvesting for later transplantation. Increasing the availability of transplantable organs is the nominal motivator behind many ugly ideas in the medical arts and biological sciences. Human cloning – the production of a human being by the manipulation of cells from an already living “edition” of that human being – has been attempted but, as far as I know, has never succeeded.

     Pray that that record of failure remains unbroken. Here’s how characters in one of my novels approached the moral aspects of the matter:

     “It would be the technological miracle of the century, you know,” Amanda said.
     The flat look swerved to settle on Amanda Hallstrom.
     “To be used for what?” Sokoloff said.
     The dean of Athene Academy opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. Sokoloff’s gaze weighed upon her.
     That’s his don’t-mess-with-me face.
     Sokoloff nodded.
     “I’ve been turning it over in my head,” he murmured after a moment, “and I can’t think of one morally acceptable reason to clone someone. Living or dead doesn’t matter.” He swept his gaze around the group. “Can anyone else?”
     No one spoke.
     “The people who did this,” he said, “did it to turn out a sex slave. Probably by request and to specification, and I’d bet my house that if they haven’t done it before, they’re trying to do it again right now. For that I’m going to send them all to hell. But think about it. Let’s say they were to clone me—produce a baby version of me. That baby would have no parents or other relatives. The people who produced him would have no reason to care for him, or about him, and only they would know he existed. He would be a product for sale. Why would anyone make that product? Why would anyone want that product? Apart from pure altruism?”
     “Altruism?” Trish said.
     “Yeah,” he said. “The kind that makes people take in stray dogs and cats. Think that’s likely?”
     Well, you did it.
     “The only reason to clone someone, other than the motives Fountain’s creators had, would be to replace him,” he said. “Or parts of him. And that means either murder, or enslavement, or cannibalism by surgeon. It’s evil no matter how you slice it.”
     “That’s if clones were granted the status and rights of people born the…regular way,” Juliette said. “What if they weren’t?”
     Sokoloff gestured at Fountain. Six pairs of eyes swung toward her. She remained still and silent.
     “That’s worse, isn’t it?” he said.
     Trish slid over next to Fountain and took her hand.
     “A lot worse,” she said.
     “Yeah,” Juliette said.

     [From Innocents]

     But human cloning is viewed by many as the potential Fountain of Youth and Immortality. Researchers on all the continents of the world are attempting it even now. Do you think they’ve thought through the matter as starkly as Larry Sokoloff? Or is their hunger for fortune and glory in the way? Or perhaps their fear of death?

     Either human life is sacred and not to be sacrificed for any lesser value, or we are all merely awaiting the butcher’s knife. “Take your choice – there is no other – and your time is running out.”


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  1. Discussed nearly 9 years ago was this excerpt published in the LASlimes.

    The three suspect [cannibal]s – a man, his wife and his mistress – belonged to a sect that preached “the purification of the world and the reduction of its population,” said police inspector Wesley Fernandes in the city of Garanhuns. Fernandes said they confessed to the crimes.

    The three allegedly lured women to their house by promising them a job as a nanny. Police found the remains of the two women in the backyard of the suspects’ house, which enraged neighbors burned to the ground Thursday.

    Brazil is often considered more primitive than America, maybe because they don’t talk about decorating their lampposts.

    After viewing 2019’s star-studded movie Laundromat, with its vivisection of a Falun Gong and placement of her parts in refrigerated bio-cartons, Hollywood cannot claim ignorance.

    We need more Brazilians.

    • Toastrider on April 16, 2021 at 7:51 AM

    I tend to nitpick because there is research into cloning that thankfully doesn’t involve making people — there’s been some successes with creating tissues on demand, and the ability to, say, clone a new heart or liver would certainly ease the issues of organ transplantation.


    But Mr. Porretto is spot on about the cloning of whole persons. Even if they’re ‘wimps’ (nonviable, unintelligent organisms), it’s a step too far. It’s asking for trouble. And I don’t want any part of that. Clone a pancreas on a collagen bed, fine. Clone a whole person just for the pancreas? That scares me.

    1. It should scare anyone, Toast. Imagine what a politician could do with a supply of clones identical to him. Then imagine what governments could do with clones of us. If you can be cloned, you can be replaced, and no one the wiser.

  2. @Francis W. Porretto:

    If you can be cloned, you can be replaced, and no one the wiser.

    There’s the germ for first next screenplay: Institution of the Body Snatchers.

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