Woman Upset Over “Unauthorized Cloning”

Claims donating her husband’s body to science didn’t authorize them to clone him

Story by Marshall Grey, Op-Ed Writer

A local woman, exasperated and running out of other options, is bringing her story to the media, and it’s quite a story. Joann–Jo, as her friends call her–Willman is a sixty-one year old widow who has lived in this city her entire life. Don’t let her age fool you: she’s still as spry as she used to be, and is determined to fight this “sad circumstance” as long as she can. You see, a little over thirty years ago, Jo’s husband Rex passed away.

“He was always so into technology,” she said, looking at a picture of him forlornly. “He was a first adopter for everything.” It was true. Rex worked hard and saved his money so he could afford the latest and greatest offerings from the world of technology. As she showed me around her apartment on the upper east side, I spotted all sorts of devices that were top-of-the-line when released. Rex had collected several versions of different DNA and memory backup systems, both of the memory disk players put out during the studio wars of the 2170s, and a myriad of implant accessories. Rex’s love for technology didn’t stop there, however.

“He told me one day, you know, that his dream was for his body to be donated to science when he died so they could improve human-machine interfaces,” she told me with a distant look in her eyes. “I didn’t think anything of it at the time, because it seemed like something he would say.” Of course, it was always assumed that this would happen far off in the future, at the end of Rex’s golden years, but fate has a way of making fools of us all. Rex died at the age of 30 in a work-related accident. Jo made the tough decision to respect her husband’s wishes and donate his body to science. What she failed to do, however, was to place restrictions on what type of research Rex’s body could be used for.

“It never even occurred to me at the time,” she said, glaring at the wall over my shoulder. It was a tragic mistake. One thing led to another, and Rex was cloned for a research project. Once the project was complete, a local family adopted him and raised him as their own. The clone of Rex is now thirty years old, the exact same age Rex was when he died.

“I had no idea it would happen. One day, two years ago, I was at the grocery store and saw him–the clone I mean. I couldn’t believe it! I ran up to him and started babbling like a maniac, telling him he was my husband and what was he doing alive and…” she trailed off. “It was damned foolish of me.”

Once Rex’s clone realized who he had been, he filed a civil suit, demanding that Jo turn over his memory backup devices. The long court battle has stretched out for the past two years, but a verdict is set to be delivered tomorrow. Jo’s argument centered on the fact that she didn’t authorize cloning. Rex’s attorney–and attorneys representing the scientists that performed the cloning–say that she didn’t forbid it from happening, so they were within their rights to do so. Analysts suggest that the court will rule in Rex’s clone’s favor.

“Once I found out who I had been, I felt I needed to get those memories back. My life had been cut short, but science brought me back, and I feel very strongly that being cloned was something I would have wanted,” Rex told reporters outside the courthouse yesterday. Whether or not he is correct about that is anyone’s guess. Reading private memories stored in a memory backup unit is currently forbidden by law, and security measures within the units themselves only allow the owner–verified by DNA–to access the memories to begin with. Regardless, Jo isn’t buying it.

“I just want to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else. Scientists shouldn’t have the right to clone anyone unless the person and their family specifically authorize it.” Jo also wants to know if there are any other copies of her husband out there, but the scientists refuse to answer, citing the fact that much of their research is classified, and they wouldn’t be at liberty to say. When this article is published, she may very quickly find out.

“I wish I could take it all back!” she said, weeping, her head in her hands. Don’t we all, sometimes…