“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”
-Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence (1776)
The notion of the existence of basic human rights which all men are entitled to, first advanced by the great philosopher John Locke, became an indelible part of the American psyche when Thomas Jefferson first wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. While the modern reader might be reluctant to question the intentions of the authors of such moral and dignified words, most historians today concur that the Founders intended for these rights to be reserved for white people with significant financial resources. Indeed, for the greater part of American history up until the twentieth century, blacks, women, the poor, and immigrants were excluded from enjoying these “basic” rights. The lack of haste with which the institution of slavery was abolished (1865), women were granted suffrage (1920), and the Senate was turned into a popularly elected body (1913) attests to this fact.
However, with the democratization and modernization of society, race and wealth have decreased in importance as factors in deciding what one is entitled to. Today, America is finally approaching the utopian vision of a free land where all denizens are treated the same. Yet the forces of technology and innovation are now threatening to bring about an upheaval of the very standards of morality and ethics by which we live. The impact of these forces in the past has been minimal, at least when viewe...
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...ped. Thus, even if cloning is outlawed, it is highly probable that in the near future, mankind will see the birth of the first cloned human. How will man treat that child, who is genetically identical to a human being, yet is so fundamentally different? Will we impose our will upon it, exploiting its life, rationalizing our actions with the notion that it is not so much a human as it is an experiment? Or will we welcome it into the fold of humanity, heralding it as another one of “God’s children”? Alas, one can only speculate.
Martin, Professor Jack. 28.May.2002. Seminar on Reproductive Cloning, Newcastle Institute of Public Health, Australia.
“House Member Opens Hearings on Human Cloning”, CNN, March 28, 2001.
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