Rebecca Taylor, Cloning, and Intellectual Integrity!

Dianne N. Irving
Copyright September 6, 2013
Reproduced with Permission

How very refreshing it is these days to find someone who is courageous enough to be intellectually honest about anything! But such is the case in a new article by Rebecca Taylor graciously acknowledging that more attention needs to be focused on identifying false scientific definitions in proposed "prolife" legislation.

As Rebecca Taylor explains in her recent article (copied below),1 I had previously pointed out to her my concerns about a new cloning bill that she was promoting in an earlier article.2 My concern was that the formal definition for "cloning" as only SCNT (somatic cell nuclear transfer) used in that bill was scientifically erroneous. There are many different kinds of cloning -- SCNT being only one of them. Why does this matter?

I have often explained the legal issue involved: the courts usually have a legal duty to interpret such formal definitions in laws as "exclusionary", i.e., literally. Thus if the definition is not accurate, or leaves things out, then those things are not covered by that bill, and are thus effectively allowed. E.g., if a bill defines "bears" as three-legged, then the bill would not apply to bears with four legs. If a bill defines "bears" as "brown", then the bill would not apply to white or black bears! Politicians and lobbyists, on both sides of the aisles, understand this well, and have long used such incomplete and/or erroneous definitions to create desired legal loopholes in legislation.3 Not new. And thus, in erroneously mis-defining "cloning" as only SCNT, all the other kinds of cloning would be allowed.

In short, regardless of what genuinely "good" things come out of a bill, my concern was that to use such false scientific definitions in the process results in some genuinely "bad" things. It is one thing to try to accomplish something incrementally. It is quite another thing to incorporate false definitions in order to accomplish it. Why the need to use false scientific definitions? What is wrong with simply stating that a bill will only achieve some limited goal, without scientifically mis-defining the very item that is being addressed? Just say the bill accomplishes "X" without falsifying the science that in turn would allow all those other bad things.

In fact, it is the lack of understanding of both the accurate science and the legal maneuverings involved that tricks good people into thinking that some proposed bill is "prolife" and should be supported, when in fact the bill is anti-life, results in harm and destruction of other human beings, and thus should not be supported.

So I am very grateful for Rebecca Taylor's recent thoughtful and intellectually honest response where she courageously acknowledges the very serious need to pay more attention to such false scientific definitions and the very real unethical and deadly consequences to innocent living human beings that would result if not identified. And I stress "intellectual honesty", as her acknowledgment will serve as a role model for others. Being "politically savvy" only has gotten us into terrible straights. Being "savvy" without being accurate or truthful is, to be brutally frank, both dumb and dangerous. Sooner or later the true facts come out. My hope is that those "savvy only" days are past.

I did notice in "comments" on Rebecca Taylor's most recent website article the requests by commentators for more information about those other kinds of cloning. I did discuss several of them in my own response to her, which I encourage people to read.4 But I will include here just a short explanation. (More detailed explanations can be found in many of my earlier articles).5 All of these different kinds of cloning can be found just by Googling the terms, or by using scientific search engines such as PubMed (, etc. And all of these kinds of cloning have already been done, and with humans.

Different Kinds of Cloning

The term "cloning" means "copying" -- and can refer to the copying of whole organisms (such as embryos) as well as to the copying of molecules or cell organelles within new organisms. In both cases, the new embryo has been artificially genetically changed and altered. Most cloning techniques involve genetic engineering.

Genetic changes can be induced into sperm and into "eggs" by means of genetic engineering before they are used in sexual reproduction (fertilization), and genetic changes can be induced into new human embryos by means of genetic engineering after they are reproduced either sexually or asexually. It also includes cloning by means of "pronuclear transfer", "mitochondrial transfer", "spindle transfer", and an ever-growing number of other kinds of cloning. Please note that all such cloning/genetic engineering takes place in experiments using the earliest human embryos that exist before the formation of the "zygote". In sexual reproduction (fertilization), the new human embryo begins to exist at the beginning of the process of fertilization and is known as the "primordial embryo" (Stage 1a). The embryo then begins to develop further as the "ootid" (Stage 1b), and only after that does the embryo develop as the "zygote" (Stage 1c):; also see . Indeed, the "zygote" doesn't even have a nucleus! But why would researchers and prolifers claim that the new human embryo doesn't begin to exist until the formation of the "zygote"? Think about it.

At any rate, any diploid cell (a cell with the normal number of chromosomes) can also be cloned. Both somatic (body) cells and germ line cells (sex gametes) are diploid. (Note that sperm are diploid until just before ejaculated, and that "eggs" or "oocytes" are diploid until and unless they are fertilized). Therefore, not only can a "somatic" cell be cloned by nuclear transfer (called SCNT), but so can a germ line cell (sperm and "egg" cells) be cloned -- called "germ line cell nuclear transfer" (GLCNT).

Yes, parthenogenesis is a form of cloning, as is monozygotic (MZ) identical twinning. In fact, the genetics texts explain that MZ twinning is the most exact form of cloning (because both the nuclear and the mitochondrial DNA are copied). MZ twinning is also called "blastomere separation", "blastocyst splitting", "embryo multiplication", etc. by researchers -- notice that the term "cloning" is usually not used. Wonder why.

So in tune with Rebecca Taylor's justified concerns about the implanting of cloned embryos into women for "reproductive purposes", consider that that has been going on now for a long time in IVF/ART facilities using "twinning" as a form of "infertility treatment" -- usually for older women who have fewer "eggs" left. So the IVF/ART technicians use one "egg" in fertilization to sexually reproduce a new human embryo, and then "twins" that embryo by separating or splitting off some of his/her totipotent cells to form twins, triplets, etc., and then implants those asexually reproduced human embryos into women who carry them to term. Yet no one has raised the issue all these years that such "reproductive cloning" by means of "twinning" has been going on. Google for yourself; here's an example: Genetic Science Learning Center
University of Utah
What is Cloning?
... Cloning is the creation of an organism that is a genetic copy of another. ... You might not believe it, but there are human clones among us right now. They weren't made in a lab, though: they're identical twins, created naturally. Below, we'll see how natural identical twins relate to modern cloning technologies.
... 1. Artificial Embryo Twinning
Artificial embryo twinning uses the same approach, but it occurs in a Petri dish instead of in the mother's body. This is accomplished by manually separating a very early embryo into individual cells, and then allowing each cell to divide and develop on its own. The resulting embryos are placed into a surrogate mother, where they are carried to term and delivered.

[See also at:]
There are various expansions or additional techniques that can be applied in IVF, which are usually not necessary for the IVF procedure itself, but would be virtually impossible or technically difficult to perform without concomitantly performing methods of IVF.
Other expansions
Embryo splitting can be used for twinning to increase the number of available embryos. [Illmensee K, Levanduski M, Vidali A, Husami N, Goudas VT (February 2009). "Human embryo twinning with applications in reproductive medicine". Fertil. Steril. 93 (2): 423-7. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2008.12.098. PMID 19217091]
Embryo splitting may refer to:
when spontaneous, the natural way in which identical twins are formed.
when artificially induced, a method of cloning. See Cloning#Methods

So I am both delighted and relieved with Rebecca Taylor's latest article, and sincerely hope that it will alert good people to what is really going on in these "total cloning bans". Hopefully too people will take the time to look for and read the extensive scientific references on the different kinds of human cloning noted below in endnotes #4 and #5.
August 21, 2013

SCNT Not the Only Type of Cloning

Back in May I wrote a piece for on H.R. 2164, Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2012. This proposed legislation would ban all somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in humans. The point I wanted to make was that many times "cloning bans" do not actually ban the cloning of human embryos; they just ban the transfer of those cloned embryos to a womb for gestation. I highlighted that H.R. 2164 would actually ban all SCNT in humans for both reproductive and research purposes and urged pro-lifers to support it.

Dr. Dianne Irving at took me to task for that piece. She has some good points. Her issue with H.R. 2164 is that it only bans SCNT when there are other ways to produced humans asexually. (Asexually means reproduction without the union of sperm and egg producing a genetically identical organism.) Dr. Irving writes:

The Taylor article itself, as well as the proposed bill, define "human cloning" only in terms of one kind of human cloning technique -- somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) -- a form of cloning, by the way, that most researchers have long abandoned because of the scientific problems involved. Instead they have been and will continue to do research using dozens of other different kinds of cloning -- none of which will be banned by this bill, all of which can be used both for destructive research purposes as well as for reproductive purposes.

She is right. There are many other ways to asexually produce human embryos besides SCNT.

In hindsight, I should have mentioned that the legislation proposed is incomplete and only a step in the right direction. I struggle with keeping posts informative without being overwhelming for the average reader. I truly just wanted to get readers to be aware of the fine print in cloning bills.

I saw the support of a ban on SCNT, even though it is not comprehensive, just like I do a ban on late term abortions, or abortions based on sex or gender. Such legislation is not ideal, but a step in the right direction. Once a ban on one type of asexual reproduction in humans is passed, I felt it would likely be easier to implement more. Not ideal of course, but progress.

In private correspondence, Dr. Irving responded that she holds this is not a case of incrementalism. To legally define human cloning as just SCNT is problematic. To which she wrote: formally define "cloning" per se as only SCNT in a legal document is to create a legal loophole for other kinds of cloning to continue.

She has an excellent point that I had not considered. Will legislation that legally defines human cloning as SCNT only give a green light to other types of human cloning? This is an important question to consider when reading and deciding on human cloning "bans."

So besides checking to see if a cloning ban only bans a transfer of cloned embryos for reproductive purposes, we should also look carefully at the procedures defined as cloning. Are they sufficient to gain our support?

Clearly, the best legislation would ban any and all means of asexual reproduction in humans. Short of that, a pro-lifer must decide whether to support a human cloning ban with a limited definition of human cloning or not because such legislation may cause more problems in the long run by allowing other forms of human cloning to continue. Posted by Rebecca Taylor in Cloning at 08:50


Wait, what other forms of cloning are there besides SCNT?

#1 Alexander Gabriel on 2013-08-23 17:11 (Reply)
The Wikipedia page also mentions "embryo twinning", which is artificially inducing identical twins (just like it sounds like). It doesn't have the mitochondrial issues SCNT sometimes does (if the host cell and donor cell have incompatible mitochondria, which aren't copied in SCNT, the clone can die).

#1.1 Tom inAZ on 2013-08-25 21:22 (Reply) Sorry this took so long. I have been crazy busy getting the kids ready for school.

Parthenogenesis and embryo splitting are two.


1 Rebecca Taylor, "SCNT Not the Only Type of Cloning" (August 21, 2013),, at: [Back]

2 Rebecca Taylor, "Congressman's Human Cloning Ban Would Actually Ban Human Cloning" (May 31, 2013),, at: See my response, Irving, "Beware of New Prolife Calls for Human Cloning 'Bans'" (June 3, 2013),, at: [Back]

3 For examples of analyses of such legislation, see Irving at: [Back]

4 Irving, "Beware of New Prolife Calls for Human Cloning 'Bans'" (June 3, 2013),, at: [Back]

5 See extensive scientific references for various kinds of "cloning" in Irving, e.g.:
"Why Accurate Human Embryology Is Needed To Evaluate Current Trends In Research Involving Stem Cells, Genetic Engineering, Synthetic Biology and Nanotechnology" (November 20, 2012), at:;

"Any Human Cell - iPS, Direct Programmed, Embryonic, Fetal or Adult - Can Be Genetically Engineered to Asexually Reproduce New Human Embryos for Purposes of Reproduction ('Infertility')" (November 2011), at:;

FERTILIZATION and IMPLANTATION of the Early Human Embryo: Accurate Scientific Resources (May 8, 2013), at:;

"Scientific References, Human Genetic Engineering (Including Cloning): Artificial Human Embryos, Oocytes, Sperms, Chromosomes and Genes" (May 25, 2004), at:;

"Playing God by manipulating man: Facts and frauds of human cloning" (October 4, 2003), presented twice at the Missouri Catholic Conference Annual Assembly Workshop, Jefferson City, MO, at:;

"Playing God ...; Appendix Church teachings and the 'delayed personhood' ruse" (Oct. 4, 2003), at:;

Some scientific references; "totipotency" and "twinning" (May 2, 2003), at:;

"Framing the Debates on Human Cloning and Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Pluripotent vs. TOTIPOTENT" (July 23, 2005), at:;

"Analysis of Legislative and Regulatory Chaos in the U.S.: Asexual Human Reproduction and Genetic Engineering" (Oct. 20, 2004), at: [Back]