Catholic Medical Quarterly

The Journal of the Catholic Medical Association (UK)

Building knowledge. Building faith. Protecting the vulnerable.

Book Review

Chimera's Children
Ethical, philosophical and religious perspectives on human-nonhuman experimentation

Edited by Calum Mackellar and David Albert Jones
ISBN 978-1-4411-6984-6

Book CoverThis important work is the first survey of the ethical problems of creating human-nonhuman embryonic entities. It concludes that chimeras are being created without much ethical debate. In the utilitarian drive to "cure" neurological conditions, an anything goes mentality has developed.

A whole array of terms are introduced and clearly defined: hybrids, cybrids and chimeras. Between 2001 and 2006, there have been sheep-human, monkey-human, pig-human and other combinations.
The book examines the legislation regulating the use of human embryos for commercial purposes. In 2005, the House of Commons determined that human embryos may be implanted in an animal uterus for therapeutic reasons. Whatever respect there had been in law for the human embryo in 1990 is now no more.

The authors argue that what is at stake here is the very definition of what a human being is. If human sperms and eggs are combined inside mice, are they human beings?

Tellingly, the authors note that for Marxists back in 1924, there was a belief that the creation of human-chimpanzee hybrids would deal a decisive blow against religion.

The authors make an excellent case for the banning of such evil experiments.