Dutch lesbian ‘set for clone baby’

CNN, Jan. 4, 2003
http://europe.cnn.com/

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (CNN) — A Dutch lesbian woman will have the world’s second cloned baby, due on Sunday by natural birth, the Raelian movement says.

The child is said to have been created by Las Vegas-based Clonaid, a cloning firm linked to the Raelian movement which said last month it had produced the first human clone, a girl called Eve, from a 31-year-old U.S. woman on December 26.

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The company has refused to say where the girl, nicknamed “Eve,” was born or where her “parents” live, saying only that it was outside the United States.

The Dutch Raelian spokeswoman declined to give any further details of the Dutch mother-to-be, who was not a member of the movement.

“She will have a normal birth. It is due tomorrow, but maybe it will be a bit early or bit late,” the spokeswoman for the Dutch chapter of the cult told CNN.

The mother-to-be is believed to be a lesbian who plans to bring up the baby with her partner, Reuters reported.

Clonaid has yet to provide DNA samples or other reliable evidence to support its assertions about last month’s birth, but said it would carry out genetic tests on Eve this week to prove she was a clone.

Former French journalist Claude Vorilhon, who now calls himself Rael, created the Raelian movement in 1973. It is a religious group that believes aliens landed on Earth 25,000 years ago and started the human race through cloning.

Rael — who describes himself as a prophet — argues that cloning is the key to eternal life.

Cloning a human is forbidden in the Netherlands, but nothing in the law forbids the birth of a cloned baby, a spokesman for the Dutch Health Ministry told Reuters.

Clonaid, which says it has a list of 2,000 people willing to pay $200,000 to have themselves or a loved one cloned, announced its breakthrough last Friday and said four more cloned babies would be born by the end of January.

On Thursday the CEO of Clonaid, Raelian bishop and former French chemist Brigitte Boisselier, said the world’s second cloned baby was expected to be born somewhere in Europe in the next few days.

But amid scepticism and outrage about the birth of baby Evge, Boisselier said genetic tests it had promised to provide as proof had been postponed to protect the parents’ identities.

Clonaid had said it would take DNA samples on Tuesday to pacify sceptics and would provide the results a week later.

“These tests have not been carried out. We have had to push them back,” Boisselier said, saying the baby’s parents felt under pressure after a Florida lawyer this week asked a state court to appoint a legal guardian for the baby.

A hearing date has been set in Broward County Circuit Court for January 22 on a lawsuit filed by attorney Bernard Siegel, who wants a legal guardian appointed for the alleged clone.

If the mother of the child does not appear for the hearing, then the court could conceivably order that the baby be taken away. The court could also delay any decision or rule that it doesn’t have jurisdiction in the case.

Siegel said comments by Rael seemed to indicate “that they don’t have to answer to the law, which says to me that this is a rogue organisation.”

“I want the whereabouts of this alleged child to be made public,” he said.

Appearing on CNN’s “Crossfire,” Rael said he had spoken with Boisselier and told her: “If there is any risk that this baby is taken away from the family, it is better to lose your credibility, don’t do the testing.”

He added: “I think she agrees with me.”

Will the public get a chance to see the baby soon?

“I don’t think so,” Rael said.

Asked whether his group is simply pulling a great publicity stunt, Rael, speaking from Canada via satellite, said his earpiece was having technical difficulties.

“I am so sorry but the sound is so bad. I cannot hear anything,” he said.

He also said his Raelian Movement was “completely separate” from Clonaid.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday January 4, 2003.
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