AFP, Jan. 3, 2002
The unknown “parents” of the purportedly cloned baby known as “Eve,” and the principals involved in her birth, have been summoned to appear before a Florida court to determine if she should be placed under court protection, the plaintiff-lawyer said.
“The clerk of the court of Broward County, Juvenile Division, has set a hearing for an arraignment scheduled on January 22,” attorney Bernard Siegel of Miami told AFP by telephone. The seat of Broward County if Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami.
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“The legal custodian — the parents — are required to be there, as well as the respondents, Clonaid and Rael,” he said. “Failure to appear amounts to giving consent of an adjudication of the child to a guardian. They have to appear.”
Rael, or the Raelians, is a sect which believes the human race was started by aliens who landed on Earth 25,000 years ago and cloned the first human.
Clonaid is a Las Vegas-based organization which arranged, and publicized, the first purportedly cloned birth, the location of which it has kept secret and for which it has yet to offer scientific proof.
Last week Brigitte Boisselier, formerly a French chemist and now president of Clonaid, announced that a baby girl cloned from her 31-year-old US mother was born on December 26 by Caesarian section at a hospital outside the United States.
Boisselier, as well as being president of Clonaid, is a senior member of the Raelians, who believe cloning is the key to humanity’s survival.
Siegel told AFP earlier Thursday that he had petitioned the court, in his own capacity as plaintiff, to place “Eve” under the court’s protection.
“I was concerned that, if this (the clonage) is true, this child is an abused child, that it could have some serious genetic, fatal problems and that the child was being exploited by Clonaid,” he said.
“The purpose of my lawsuit is to appoint a guardian for this child. Because I perceived that this child, more than any other child in the world, needs legal protection under the United States courts,” said Siegel, who stressed he was acting on his own and without a specific client.
DNA samples were to have been taken from baby and mother on Tuesday by a person described by Boisselier as an independent expert, working under the surveillance of US television journalist Michael Guillen.
Meanwhile, Clonaid spokeswoman Nadine Gary told AFP by telephone that US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors had stopped by the organization’s Las Vegas headquarters making inquiries.
“We referred them to our lawyer,” she said without comment.
FDA spokesman Brad Stone earlier had said the agency was “looking into this matter . . . contacting people who may have some insight into the activities of this organization in terms of its human cloning activities.
“At this point, I’m not aware of a formal investigation,” he said. “We want to check and see, first, whether the cloning did take place, and second, if it violated any of our laws.”
She also said the parents were afraid that legal action in Florida could result in the cloned child being taken away from them.
Siegel’s petition to name the court as guardian, was lodged Tuesday in Circuit Court, juvenile division, in Fort Lauderdale, north of Miami.
It alleges, “this child is at risk of having permanent genetic defects, imperfections and mutations, with the possibility of mutations only noticeable after birth,” and that the girl was being used as a human “guinea pig.”
Calling the “Eve” case a “dangerous medical experiment,” the petition argues Clonaid seeks to commercially exploit cloning and plans to charge potential customers 200,000 dollars per clone.
“At the same time they are secreting the child, they are seeking maximum publicity and commercially exploiting her,” it says.
Earlier Thursday, Boisselier said the world’s second cloned baby would be born somewhere in Europe in the next few days, but admitted she was still unable to provide independent confirmation that her group had created the first human clone.