It's been another week of cloning talk, with Clonaid dominating the headlines whilst journalists try to track down the elusive baby Eve and her parents. But whilst the Raelians seem to be getting all the media attention they could possibly have wished for, the parents of the so-called clone might be thinking twice about what they've let themselves in for. They must be worrying, not that they've pushed the moral boundaries, but that they've put their baby in danger.
Aside from the health risks that accompany cloning, the parents of baby Eve seem to fear losing their child to the authorities. Clonaid vice president, Thomas Kaenzig, was subpoenaed to appear in court to reveal the identity and whereabouts of Eve and her mother. This move followed the filing of a lawsuit in a Florida court to appoint a state guardian for the baby. The intention is apparently to take her into state care if her health is deemed to be at risk. Given the state of knowledge about reproductive cloning, it seems fairly likely that the parents would lose custody of their new baby. No wonder they are running scared and refusing DNA tests.
Of course, no-one is arguing that the parents of Eve should run away from the law or put the health of their baby at risk. But the fact that it was thought necessary to file this lawsuit in the first place is a result of the mess caused by the world's reaction to the prospect of human cloning. An insightful editorial in New Scientist magazine this week pointed out that one of the drawbacks of prohibitions on reproductive cloning that most countries now have in place is that they are driving would-be cloners and their clients underground, along with their babies. But it's not just prohibitions that are driving them underground. The media response to the Clonaid announcements and the hunt mentality that seems to accompany it is probably doing more to frighten the parents into hiding than any legal prohibition.
None of this can be doing anyone any good, especially baby Eve, whether or not she is a clone. The only people to benefit are those associated with Clonaid, who are lapping up the media attention with relish.