SUSAN DENTZER: Could we by, if you will, playing God, really create something that's very badly askew from a genetic standpoint?
KEVIN FITZGERALD: If you don't like therapeutic cloning, playing God is actually, I think, a phrase that gets short-shrift. If we really want to play God, we'd be out there loving one another and being very good to one another, and very kind to one another, and healing one another, and all these kinds of things to everyone. So that would be playing God.
When we do this other thing, if we're doing it out of that sense of "this is to benefit all, to bring care and healing without sacrificing some for others," that would be okay. That's part of doing research. But again, we always have to do that research with that larger context in mind, that we're doing the research for the service of life, and not just to do research for research's sake.
SUSAN DENTZER: Since we got into a little exchange about playing God, I'm going to ask you one other thing: when you ask the people who are proponents of therapeutic cloning, "Are you playing God?", they say, "Yes -- and that's what science and health care has always been about to a certain degree. It's been about figuring out a way to save people, preserve their life, extend their life."
So this is always all about playing God in that context, [they say,] and therefore there's nothing wrong with it. This is what people have always done, human beings have always done.
KEVIN FITZGERALD: Right. Well, in that case if all medical research is, of course, always good, then the Tuskegee syphillis experiments were good, because that's medical research.
So the logic doesn't seem to hold. Obviously, there are ways in which we can judge some medical research to be true to what we want to do in healing and medicine. And a lot of things can be claimed to be done for a particular reason, but whether or not it's actually meeting that end is something that we can evaluate and judge, and I think that's what we need to continue to do with all these technologies.
SUSAN DENTZER: So to use their terminology, playing God, again -
KEVIN FITZGERALD: Well, we want to do research, and we certainly want to have health care that will bring benefit and will relieve suffering. But again, we run into problems when we're going to do that for some and not for others. And especially when we're going to do it at the expense of others, because I think fundamental to the concept of health care and medicine is the fact that you do not discriminate.
You do not say "this is for you and not for you." The whole point was this was going to be one of those areas of our culture in society where this was going to bring benefit to all, and not be another avenue for discrimination, for giving more to the few, and taking away from the many.
So I'd say again we have to be constantly aware of these issues when we pursue anything because this is always the struggle that's before humankind. Everything that we do has that balance in it: for whom are we doing it, [and] at what cost?