This article originally appeared in Pyramid #4
Of all the medical advancements mankind has created, nothing is more remarkable, and controversial, than human cloning.
Cloning, the Law, and You
A Public Service Message Concerning the National Clone Act of 2043
By Timothy Jacques
At first glance, it would appear that humanity has finally cheated death and disease once and for all. People who lose a vital organ or limb can now be restored to a normal, healthy life. Fear of blindness, spinal cord injuries and disfiguring accidents is becoming a thing of the past. Thanks to clone technology, the quality of life has risen to new levels.
But even with all the advantages of cloning, there are still problems with this glorious innovation. Cloning is not socially acceptable everywhere, as it can conflict with various legal, moral, ethical, religious and philosophical precepts. Additionally, the high cost means that only the rich and famous can afford this procedure, resulting in additional friction between the social classes.
Cloning is not a perfect process. Problems can easily arise from such a delicate procedure. Complications such as "replica fade'' or genetic diseases are ever-looming problems. Viruses and memory loss can cause considerable stress. Many clones eventually develop psychological problems over personal identity and social stigmas.
Recently, the public's attention has been aroused over the topics of cloning rights and criminal law. Several controversial cases (see below) have set dangerous precedents, opening a new set of problems for America's judicial system.
The Federal Government, responding to public pressure, enacted the National Clone Act of 2042. The Supreme Court upheld the NCA in early 2043. In a rare unanimous decision, the nine justices agreed that cloning was not an absolute right, and cannot be used as a way to circumvent, avoid or escape the authority of the law. Criminals, or anyone deemed "a danger to the public," can have his cloning privileges revoked.
Three specific cases were cited as justification for the NCA.
1) Benson v. The State of New York (2032)
James Benson was a convicted serial killer known to have murdered 20 people in the six weeks since he moved to New York City. After his execution, a black-market clone was activated. The state tried to execute him again, but the defense successfully argued double-jeopardy. Benson then went on another killing spree, slaying another ten people before he was eventually caught and sentenced to a life term.
2) Grellen v. The State of Arkansas (2035)
Samuel Grellen was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years of hard labor at the state penitentiary. During his fifth year in prison, he died in a freak accident.
His clone was activated and he was freed by the courts; the defense successfully argued that the "new'' Grellen should not remain in jail because he had no knowledge of his predecessor's activities. Grellen's last MMSD update was done two years before the crime took place, and, therefore, the "new'' Grellen was in no way connected to the "old'' Grellen's past crimes.
Although certainly a Grellen of any version holds the same potential for destruction as the one who actually committed the crime, society chose to help this one not make the same mistake as his predecessor, rather than continue incarceration for a crime he didn't commit.
3) The Debbie Olleron Incident (2041)
In 1991, Debbie Olleron, then 35, was convicted of a brutal double murder and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
After her release, Olleron (with the help of her remaining relatives) went to the nearest Gold Cross center and created a clone. Three months later, after the 85-year-old Olleron died of natural causes, her clone (a youthful 23) was activated the next day.
The general public was outraged that a convicted criminal was able to circumvent her punishment and get back the years that society took away, time served or not.
The National Clone Act sets forth for the first time specific legal guidelines for the courts to follow concerning the cloning rights of convicted criminals.
The punishments range in their severity. The four degrees are:
Misdemeanors A*, B ¶ * -- Clones are not destroyed, but the other stipulations apply.
¶ -- Only for habitual misdemeanor offenders. Seldom resorted to.
§ -- Furthermore, all citizens with a felony criminal record must register their clones and MMSDs with the Federal government. Failure to register is a Federal offense which will result in a $10,000 fine, five-year jail sentence and the permanent revoking of all cloning privileges.
Felonies A, B, C, D § Capital Offenses A, D Repeat Offenders A, B, C, D §A) No cloning privileges. At the time of incarceration, all clones and MMSDs are destroyed. Prisoners can neither update a braintape nor start a new clone.B) Suspension of all cloning rights, extending to the time after a convict leaves prison. For a specific amount of time after release (ranging from one month to ten years), an ex-convict can not start, update or maintain any clones.C) Aging of all clones. After an ex-convict gets his/her cloning rights back, all future clones must be aged to match that of the convict upon release. Example: Max Suller, age 30, is convicted of robbery and sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole. After serving his time, no clones he creates may be younger than 50 years of age.D) Total revocation of all cloning rights. This punishment is reserved for repeat offenders, capital offenses, or for serious non-capital crimes.Any black-market MMSD or clone discovered, owned by a normal citizen or convicted criminal, is immediately disposed of.
People with restrictions placed on their cloning rights can appeal these decisions through normal legal channels. However, once cloning punishments have been handed out, it is very rare to get a reversal.
Some states, with the Federal Government's approval, have arranged alternative punishments for criminals who have clones. Such sentences can include, but are not limited to, memory erasing, memory implanting, behavior modification, "rebirth" (where all clones are reverted to infancy, their memories are stripped, and they are placed in foster homes or with adoptive parents), or volunteer medical research programs.
Of course, if a person can afford it, he may start a clone or have a braintape made during his trial. Even so, few citizens will be able to find a cloning company that would accept them as a client during the trial process.
Due to the new laws, cloning companies are getting more and more selective about who they'll accept as customers. The people who manage the various biological cloning labs don't want the public to see their industry as a haven for thieves and murders. The threat of legal action (fines and prison terms) against company executives is another reason for the tougher level of screening.
Criminals are now forced to go overseas or to black-market clone banks. This might change soon as many countries adopt similar laws, thanks to public pressure. Black-market cloning may offer a quieter and more secure alternative, but at the price of higher fees and possibly lower quality.
To pay for the enforcement of these new laws, a ten percent luxury tax is assessed on all cloning services (MMSD updates, storage, activation and growing a new clone). The FBI and local law enforcement agencies are responsible for enforcing the NCA. This has given many investigators the dubious nickname of "clone cop."
The NCA is not yet a law in any of the Free Oil States, but slightly different forms of the Act have been introduced into each country's legislature, where its chances for passage are considered good.
Article publication date: December 1, 1993
Copyright © 1993 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to firstname.lastname@example.org.