Friday, December 12, 2008

Originally, I wanted to interview Dr. Sherrill Begres. She is a bioethicist, and probably the leading authority at IUP on the ethics of human cloning. Unfortunately, Dr. Begres was busy. I told her that any time before thanksgiving would be good, but she still couldn’t do it. I was going to try to get her perspective on cloning. Was it ethical? What about the differences between reproductive and therapeutic? Is there a moral imperative to clone or not to clone? Are clones real human beings or are they somehow different? I would be learning fundamental issues of ethics that I could have used to write a newspaper article about the ethics of cloning. Unfortunately, Dr. Begres couldn’t do an interview.

Dr. Getchell provided me with the idea to do a man-on-the-street style interview, asking the average student about human cloning. I could then use that to write an article about what students at IUP know about human cloning. If I had more time, I would have done several interviews to get a broader spectrum of opinion and awareness. I interviewed my friend Brittany Lyn Papalia, a fellow sophomore. She is an English major with a biology minor, so I figured she might represent about the average knowledge of biology here at IUP. I wanted to learn what she knew about human cloning, stem cells, and epigenetics. I also wanted to know what her opinion was on human cloning, for or against it. Though it wouldn’t be an expert’s opinion, it still represents another opinion besides my own. The transcript of the interview follows:

Stephen Luciano: I’m going to ask you a few questions, is it ok if I record the answer and use them in a newspaper article.
Brittany Lyn Papalia: Yessirree.
SL: What is your name and major?
BLP: Brittany Lyn Papalia, and my major is English, BA.
SL: How much biology education would you say you’ve had?
BLP: Umm, I took two biology classes in high school, and two in college.
SL: Do you know anything about stem cells? If so, what?
BLP: A tiny bit.
SL: Can you say specifically what you know?
BLP: No, I’m sorry.
SL: Do you anything about epigenetics?
BLP: No, I’ve never even heard of that term before.
SL: Do you know anything about cloning?
BLP: Again, a tiny tiny bit. Like, I know what it is.
SL: What is cloning, then?
BLP: It’s where you take an embryo of something and make a duplicate. That’s about as much as I know.
SL: Do you know the difference between reproductive and therapeutic cloning?
BLP: Oh god, I just talked about this today in my philosophy class. (You don’t have to write that.) I believe that I do not know the answer. Reproductive is when you’re like actually cloning someone. But therapeutic is where you use stem cells, for like cancer and such.
SL: Do you think we should experiment with human cloning? Do you think we should do it.
SL: I think so, but like, at the same time, as long as we know it wouldn’t cause harm on the person that they’re taking the cells from. You know what I mean? I don’t care about the clone. If we were cloning Zack, as long as Zack wouldn’t get hurt.
SL: Is it ok for therapeutic cloning or reproductive cloning or both or neither?
BLP: Personally I’m a strong believer in the whole stem cell thing. My aunt had her live saved because of that. She had cancer but it’s reduced a lot. They haven’t found any bad cells in awhile.
SL: Do the benefits outweigh the consequences?
BLP: Yes, because a lot of the time people think that it’s like you’re just killing a baby in order to kill the stem cells. I don’t think you’re actually killing anyone. I don’t think you’re really causing harm on anyone.
SL: Were you aware that they actually have cloned human embryos from stem cells?
BLP: No, I was not.
SL: Is there anything else you want to say?
BLP: Nope.

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