“Life is creation, not a commodity,” says President Bush, defending his view that all cloning should be permanently outlawed.

Life is a creation of whom — and for whose purpose? Do we make our own lives, for our own sakes, or is somebody else doing the making for us?

A religious conservative such as President Bush would answer something like this: “Life is given to us by God. It is not ours to create; it is only God’s to create.”

Oh, really? Then is abortion wrong? Yes, most religious conservatives would say — including President Bush; but he wouldn’t necessarily outlaw abortion. He certainly does not push for outlawing abortion the way he is currently pushing for outlawing cloning. If life is only for God to create, then isn’t even simple birth control wrong too? “Well, no,” even most religious conservatives would now acknowledge.

The rush to outlaw cloning is a purely emotional reaction grounded in faith, but not grounded in reason. Our government’s job is to protect individual rights: the right to be free from force, fraud, and coercion. If I use your DNA to clone you, without your knowledge or consent, then I am of course violating your rights. I am coercing you into reproducing. But if I willingly seek to clone myself, or to clone someone who provides voluntary consent, then what business does the government have in forbidding it?

Don’t these questions deserve to be asked and debated before we rush to outlaw cloning? Isn’t the burden of proof on the government to show that cloning, in all cases, necessarily violates individual rights? Or is the mere fear of something grounds enough to immediately outlaw it?

Listen to what Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Bush’s most visible opponent on the issue, has to say in opposition: “We actually hold out the possibility of curing Parkinson’s, curing diabetes, curing Alzheimer’s disease, curing cancer. But whether or not we do depends on whether or not we will have the research and ability to provide scientists the opportunity to find those cures soon. We can do that and we can ban human cloning. The president wants to ban it all and I think he’s wrong and I think the American people are on our side on this issue.”

Yet Senator Daschle, and liberals like him who control half of Congress, hold without reservation to the view that government must be completely involved in managing, subsidizing, and providing health care. But how are individuals to be protected from religious conservatives like President Bush if government has the final say on what kinds of medical research get subsidized and what kinds do not? “Simple,” Daschle would say with a sneer; “Vote for liberals only.” And accept the package deal of socialized medicine, huge tax rates, fascist controls on business, imposed political correctness, government schools, and everything else — in exchange for legalizing some cloning and abortion? No thank you!

“Anything other than a total ban on human cloning would be unethical,” President Bush declares. Even if it were true that cloning is, in every case, unethical — so what? Government is not supposed to ban things simply because they’re unethical. Government is supposed to protect individuals from force or fraud. Abusing alcohol is unethical. Wasting your potential is unethical. Having children to fulfill your own neurotic needs is unethical. Yet we don’t — and shouldn’t — attempt to outlaw these things.

If legislating morality (or, more precisely, one’s perception of morality) were the central purpose of government, I would hope for people with higher moral stature than President Bush or Tom Daschle to govern us. In reality, the notion that government can or should legislate morality is a vicious fraud. We are all our own moral keepers. We only need government to protect us from violent criminals, terrorists, and con artists. If we can’t protect ourselves morally, then we deserve what we get.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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