Deja you: human cloning generally legal in the US

sheep cloning, human cloning
Deja You (or ewe in this case).

One of the great areas of confusion over the human cloning development this week is whether human cloning is legal or illegal.

With few exceptions, human cloning in general is legal in the US. Update: in 2020 it still appears that reproductive human cloning is legal in the US. It just hasn’t gotten that much attention surprisingly.

More specifically, therapeutic cloning of the type done in Oregon to produce embryonic stem cells (ESC) is legal in most states in the US including California. Just a handful of states ban therapeutic cloning.

At the federal level therapeutic cloning is legal.

How about reproductive Star Wars kind of cloning? The type of cloning that makes actual people? About a dozen ban reproductive cloning, but by far most do not.

There is also no federal law prohibiting reproductive cloning.

The FDA has stated that it believes it has jurisdiction over the process, but that does not make the process illegal. In fact, someone could clone a human being in the US without the FDA’s permission and it still would not be necessarily illegal.

We have seen from the FDA’s frustratingly circumspect behavior with dubious, non-compliant stem cell clinics as well as IVF clinics that just because the FDA says it has regulatory oversight power over a given process does not mean that those who go ahead and do that process without FDA permission will get into legal trouble or even any trouble at all. In fact, to the contrary, most of the time the FDA takes months if not years to react to non-compliant biologics-related activities and does so very cautiously.

What this means is that if a lab cloned a human being, the FDA could first of all do nothing to prevent it and second of all would probably not take dramatic action against the cloner.

Instead, I predict the FDA would visit the lab (assuming they could find it) and the FDA may after the fact tell the people they could not clone again, but by then it is kind of too late, right?

Also of relevance, but indirectly, is the fact that states vary substantially in their laws regarding compensation for egg donation by women, but my hunch would be that human cloners would not care much about complying with state laws in this area.

The bottom line is that generally in most of the US, there is no legal or insurmountable regulatory obstacle to human cloning. 

9 thoughts on “Deja you: human cloning generally legal in the US”

  1. scientist is known for being smart but instead of focusing on cloning human teeth and other organs that can use to help a lot of people they waste their time on research like this, there’s a lot of useful research you can do than wasting your time on this research, Dear scientist someday you’ll die please do something useful to help other.

  2. Pingback: Imagine A World Full Of John Lennon Clones | Giant Freakin Robot

  3. Pingback: Imagine Cloning John Lennon From Old Molar | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  4. Pingback: Stem cell field stumbles on cloning dialogue | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

  5. Pingback: News – Deja you: human cloning generally legal in the US (Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog) | Stu's Stem Cell Blog

  6. Paul,
    Thanks for the information about legal issues. There are some real barriers to human reproductive cloning—I think that it will never be done, at least in this century. First, there are a lot of tricky parts to the technique- some egg donors produced oocytes that worked, and others were no good. The equipment is highly specialized and not commonly found in research labs. Shoukhrat Mitalipov is really really good at this, having made several breakthroughs in non-human primate SCNT and mitochondrial transplants.
    Given these challenges, I suspect that the first to claim that they can clone you will be the same people who claim that they have stem cell “cures” for every human disease. They’ll just add it to the list: ALS, Alzheimer disease, cancer, cloning, diabetes, etc.
    It might be time to reread the case of the Raelians, who claimed to have produced the first cloned human in 2003, because that’s what I would guess will happen next.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jeanne.
      I think there are major technical challenges and yes the Mitalipov’s lab is one of few that has a super high level of skill, but I expect the hurdles will be overcome in the next 5-10 years and the technology become generally obtainable by a greater diversity of labs. There are still 87 years left in this century by the way. Think where we were 87 years ago.

      1. I’m surprised that there isn’t a more lively comment string on this.
        The point I didn’t seem to make well is that even if you have all the skills and equipment, there still has to be the will to try to overcome the next unknown numbers of challenges to producing a cloned baby. Say it talks 500 tries to get a healthy embryo though a pregnancy and birth. How many women would that take- for the eggs and the uteruses?
        87 years seems like a short time.

        1. Jeanne, I respect your opinion greatly on these kinds of issues. On this one I’m much more worried than you are about reproductive cloning. I hope you are right and I am wrong.

Comments are closed.