July/August 2002

As Raymond Barglow's and Jeremy Rifkin's articles demonstrate, thoughtful people of good conscience and progressive politics may come to different conclusions about human embryo cloning.

Rifkin, along with other progressives, believes that embryo cloning could open the door to a high-tech eugenics controlled and promoted by biotechnology corporations. He points also to the health risks to the women who would have to donate the millions of eggs that therapies involving embryo cloning would require. Based on these misgivings, Rifkin supports a permanent ban on all kinds of human cloning.

Barglow, along with other progressives, emphasizes the role that embryo cloning may someday play in medical treatments that would use embryonic stem cells to regenerate damaged tissues and organs. Based on his hopes for "research that may aid so many millions of people who are afflicted by debilitating diseases," he is dismayed at Rifkin's stance.

And many people, progressives and others, are confused: pulled by both the hopes and dangers, tentative in their understanding of the underlying technical facts and political agendas, put off by the polarized tone of...