Attack of the clones

Finally. The opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I can finally play God. I have a terrible illness. An illness that leads me to believe that I’m half man, half shark – now, thanks to the wonders of therapeutic cloning, I’ll be able to grow the shark fin I’ve always imagined gracing my back. Surely therapeutic cloning stretches to include therapy for “mental” illness – in fact the line probably extends much further – you have a bit of a cold at the moment sir, no problem, here’s a new lung – buy now and we’ll throw in an extra kidney for free. The real concern I have as a result of the passing of the bill is an economic concern. Legalised organ harvesting will kill the black market organ trade. Organ harvesting is big business in the South American slums. Those economies rely on the export dollars generated by criminals and spent in local communities – it’s the ma and pa operators who are going to cop this on the chin – but at least they’ll be able to go out and get themselves a new chin if the blow is too heavy.
Medical tourism is the next predicted boom market – if Australia becomes a one stop shop for vital organs we’ll be right at the heart* of this emerging market. The gall** of those people who complain about this revolutionary new legislation. Their shortsightedness is astounding. We will be at the forefront with our willingness to travel into ethical grey areas. I hear Amsterdam has the drug travel market cornered – why not legalise drugs and turn Nimbin into a tourism hub. Why stop at pot – we could be top spot (I only chose those words because they’re all anagrams of the letters T, O, P, and S) for crystal methamphetamine (ice, ice baby…) , then our middle class users could kill all their organ functionality and invest their left over cash into new organs. The possibilities are endless. What a Pandora’s box our wonderful polititians have opened. Realms upon realms of possibilities (or for the paper users among us – reams upon reams – again the possibilities are almost endless – limited only by the number of pieces of paper).

* Pun intended
** and again

12 thoughts on “Attack of the clones”

  1. No word from Anonymous yet? Oh well, I figured out who he is anyway…

    Interesting remarks on the stem cell research bill. I hadn’t thought through those sorts of possible long-term outworkings of allowing such research and development. The idea that the rich and indulgent could engage in self-harm and stupid behaviours and not have to suffer the consequences is unjust to say the least.

  2. Oh, by the way stewart – you only figured out who I was because I said my name, and we live in the same house! JACKASS!

  3. Drafting legislation is not something I’d enjoy.

    Picking holes in drafted (and passed) legistation, now that has more appeal, though not enough to finish a law degree or enter politics.

    In this case, I don’t dispute the benefits of theraputic cloning for stem-cell research, but, as I understand it, embryos (ie people) are still destroyed (killed) in the process.

    There is also the potential (if we can believe the reports) for harvesting eggs from aborted girl babies without any consent or notification required by law, which creates a whole new category of bio-trade.

    Of course, I haven’t read the bill/act so I’m only going on hearsay. I’m willing to be corrected on this.

  4. I have, in the last two days, read the Hansard records of the debate in parliament (which I would recommend doing if this issue intersets you), and the bill itself.

    I have also been engaged in a two day debate with Benny – with input from Tim (a scientist).

    The background to this legislation is that in 2002 scientists were allowed to conduct stem cell research on embryos left over from IVF treatment and abortions. These embryos would then be destroyed after 14 days of development (at that time they stop being maleable cells which can be manipulated into anything and start to link together into multicell structures – I’m told that after 14 days they may as well be adult stem cells – useful for a different field of research). The embryos created for IVF treatment are free from pre-existing diseases and conditions like motor neurone disease, diabetes and other genetic conditions. The embryos are therefore of limited use when it comes to developing cures for those diseases. The ammendments to that bill, passed on Wednesday night, allow scientists to create their own embryos, for the specific purpose of their research – these embryos will not be allowed to develop into a “human” state past 14 days (ie they can grow uninterupted for up to 14 days before the scientists play around with their structure). Embryos are hard to come by – the eggs are very expensive, so the scientists tacked on an extra bit to the bill which would allow, as Mark suggested, the ovaries of aborted female foetuses.
    An amendment was unsuccessfuly moved to remove that provision from the bill.
    Reading through Hansard – objections to the bill were largely based on two points –
    Some MPs argued that human life begins at the point of fertillisation. I still haven’t decided where I stand on that point. I’m not sure that an artificially inseminated egg created outside the womb constitutes a human.
    Others argued against the ethical slippery slope entered here – their concerns are that 14 days is fairly arbitrary and will eventually grow as research advances. The consideration at this point is at what moment human life does begin – and where it is ok to end one “life” to save another.

    It’s an interesting issue – I’d like to know what other people think.

  5. Hmmm. Nathan – what’s the correct response when I look at your pictures and it says ‘like what you see’… I realise this is not an oversight on your behalf, but a hazard of the flickr website…

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