Closer to God

On July 5, the TV program Sixty Minutes enthusiastically presented a new medical procedure in which genes of unborn children are withdrawn from the mother, examined for defective cells, and modified to avoid the possibility of later adult breast cancer and many other unwelcome conditions. The physicians involved charge a few thousand dollars, and praise without ethical discussion accompanied the narrative. Three days earlier, the film Closer to God debuted at a cinema in Beverly Hills to inform filmviewers that the day may have already arrived for Frankensteinian cloning of human embryos. Obviously inspired by Mary Shelley‘s novel, the film was written and directed by Billy Senese and does raise ethical issues. Geneticist Dr. Victor (played by Jeremy Childs) has “fathered” two clones. One baby is announced to the public after being apparently normal for a month, though with a metallic-looking insert in her forehead about where Indians tattoo a spot representing enlightenment and strength. The announcement leads to protest outside Victor’s gated residence and the revelation that there is no law to stop cloning. But there is a second undisclosed cloned child, now a toddler named Ethan (Isaac Disney), who conducts a violent protest inside a locked room in the house. As the story develops, the arguments against cloning by the chaotic outside protesters are mild compared to the havoc caused by the earlier clone. MH