On Feb. 27 of this year, the US House of Representatives voted 241 to 155 in favor of banning all human cloning within the borders of the United States. That includes cloning for reproduction, for research, and for medical purposes. Let me tell you what's wrong with that.
I have Type 1 diabetes, which means that my immune system woke up one day and decided that the islet cells in my pancreas were in fact foreign invaders. Being both duty-bound and stupid, my white blood cells swooped in and killed every last one of them. This means I no longer have the capacity to create insulin within my body. I am condemned, along with a surprisingly large portion of the American population, to stab myself in the stomach twice a day, every day, for the rest of my life. If I let my vigilance flag for any extended period of time, I risk losing my legs, kidneys, liver, eyes, hands, and life. I am a burden on my insurance company, raising rates for everyone else.
Pancreatic transplants do exist. Donors are appallingly few and far between. The surgery has a 15% mortality rate. Those who survive tend not to live more than five years afterward. The patient is required to take powerful immunosuppresant drugs to keep his body from rejecting the foreign organ, which leaves them defenseless against all manner of other pathogens. Generally speaking, most doctors do not think it is worth the risks to attempt the surgery.
What does this have to do with cloning? Potentially, doctors could take a sample of my genetic material and use it to grow new islet cells, which could then be placed into my body to replace those destroyed. At the same time, in the glands where the white blood cells are born, additional cells could be introduced so that the white blood cells learn that the islet cells are part of the body and are not to be killed. These two steps, taken together, would be what I like to call a cure.
Granted, it isn't as easy as I've made it sound. If it were, we'd be doing it already. There are in fact a great many hurdles to get over before such a thing is feasible. Among them, the ability to grow cells to order of the type required. Medical science has a rudimentary understanding of this process at best. Very much medical research is needed to get the state of the art where it needs to be. The kind of research that is done in the field of cloning.
The US House of Representatives has made it abundantly clear the my existence as a productive member of society is not as important or valuable as a zygote in a Petrie dish. They seem to have forgotten which of us has the right to vote.