Human Cloning Inevitable
Human reproductive cloning is an inevitable part of our future, for better or worse. Reports of one or two human cloning attempts overseas in less restricted environments have peppered the news pages over the last several months. Other indicators include the adamance of certain scientists to pursue this process in those same countries.

Over time and with much scrutiny of the successes of these brave scientists, the public will recognize the benefits of this type of cloning as yet another method of producing offspring that far outweigh the risks. This public will eventually embrace the process, as they have artificial insemination techniques and in vitro fertilization.

Theoretically, however, the DNA of these cloned offspring will be virtually identical to that of their genetic donors. Many are arguing now that this match is ideal for theraputic cloning, by providing surplus bodily materials with the ultimate in compatibility for a given patient.

DNA Collection
The scant laws that do exist are crafted now to give industry & research more freedom than the individual in all matters genetically based.

In matters where few lawmakers have yet to tread, potential abuses have already occurred. Take South Carolina's DNA collection-at-birth policies. For the last seven years, the state has collected blood samples from newborns to test for several diseases and genetic abnormalities. These samples are stored and labeled with the child's identifying information, rather than being destroyed after testing. Recently it was reported in several SC newspapers that some of these older samples were released to research laboratories without parental consent, and without anonymity of the "donor" of the samples.

It is not known if South Carolina's collection process includes cataloguing the DNA of each sample complete with identifying information. But the storage of genetic material with identifying information is only one step away from such a DNA database.

If the process continues without revisions to the state policies that protect the privacy of this material, in just a few decades the entire population of native South Carolinians will be in this samples database. We all know the existence of this type of information collection & storage will make our law enforcement agencies very happy. Linking this database to Records Central in our fledgling Homeland Security Department will enable law enforcement agencies across the country, and especially an unrestricted FBI, to search for DNA matches for all of their unsolved crimes.

Rape, Murder, ??
DNA evidence is extremely useful in criminal forensics investigations. Excerpted from "Case Studies in Use of DNA Evidence" by the US Justice Department's National Institute of Justice, June 1996:

"The development of DNA technology furthers the search for truth by helping police and prosecutors in the fight against violent crime. Through the use of DNA evidence, prosecutors are often able to conclusively establish the guilt of a defendant. Moreover, DNA evidence -- like fingerprint evidence -- offers prosecutors important new tools for the identification and apprehension of some of the most violent perpetrators, particularly in cases of sexual assault.

"At the same time, DNA aids the search for truth by exonerating the innocent." Indeed, over 100 death row convictions have been overturned after comparing existing DNA evidence with each inmate's DNA profile.

Justice Copied?
As human cloning becomes commonplace, so will the increasing likelihood that your DNA is not as unique as you, and the Justice Department, think it is. Flippant disregard for individual privacy rights by well-meaning research entities may very well use an "unknown" subject's genetic material to fine tune their cloning theories. Sidestepping the ethical issues this entails, should this use of an individual's genetic material be allowed without his knowledge or consent? Should the research firms even have access to human genetic material, period, without the donor's knowledge and consent? And most importantly, should DNA evidence be relied upon so heavily to convict the right person in the futureworld replete with genetic twins?

Now is the time that our lawmakers must realize how we as individuals with unique DNA profiles are on a collision course with our Justice System. We as individuals must regain and maintain the ultimate authority over our bodies, right down to the genetic blueprints of our chromosomes. We must be informed when our genetic material is being gathered, and for what purposes. We must further maintain our right to deny the collection and/or use of our material before we can be held responsible for its discovery at a crime scene we were never at.