A Godsend?

"When God fails you, come to Godsend"

That's the tagline of an online ad for the Godsend Institute a fertility clinic in Cohasset, Massachusetts, that offer to bring dead children back to life by cloning them.

"At Godsend, we have perfected a procedure by which a single cell could be used to create a genetically identical fetus – a fetus which could be carried to term and, in effect, be reborn.

An identical child down to the last chromosome on the last hair of his or her head."

The site has pictures of happy families with their children and even testimontials like this one:

Our son’s name was Michael and when he died he was five years old. I was heartbroken of course, but my wife was absolutely devastated. She had been told that she was unable to have children and when Michael was born, she had taken it as a sign from God. When he died, my wife’s faith died with him.

Then we heard about Dr. Wells and Godsend. It’s been three years since he gave Michael back to us and all I can say is that if there is a God, his name is Dr. Richard Wells.

“When all hope is lost, come to Godsend,” the website claims.

Hidden in a link at the bottom of this page is a link that reveals the site's true purpose.

It's an ad for a movie— Godsend, —a cautionary tale about cloning starring Robert DeNiro.

The person responsible for the ad is most likely publicist Jeremy Walker the man whose guerilla marketing campaign made the Blair Witch Project into a blockbuster reports
Wired magazine.

Wired quotes Brian Alexander, author of Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion

Alexander tells Wired that "the site was clever," but he was concerned about the film's portrayal of scientists involved in cloning.

Connecting mad scientists and sinister outcomes with cloning technology only hurts the efforts of legitimate researchers who are trying to find treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, he said.

And Wired then claims that reproductive cloning is not illegal in the US.

Unlike most other developed countries, the United States has no law against reproductive cloning. Bills that would outlaw cloning to create a baby have gotten hung up in Congress during both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

In fact, this piece by the Christian Science Monitor says that a new report from the President's Council on Bioethics a group that opposes cloning of all kinds - may in fact open up the door for cloning in the future.

Laurie Zoloth, professor of medical humanities and bioethics and religion at Northwestern University, tells the Monitor the council made a distinction between therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning.

"And that's a positive element of this report," she says, "that one type [of cloning] should be banned now and that one type shouldn't."

I don't know if the Godsend Institute is the sickest movie marketing ploy ever or the most brilliant marketing since the Passion. And I don’t know if Alexander’s book is any good—it got good reviews but is number 227,680 on Barnes and Nobles Chart.

But he’s got one thing right. Biotech is the new religion.

And stem cells are the Holy Grail. Almost any article about them in mainstream new sources had some reference to their magical qualities.

Like this piece from the Boston Globe about a couple that donated their leftover embryos from IVF to Harvard’s stem cell research run by Doug Melton.

If anything in science can be considered magical, it is these cells, formed a few days after conception. Over the course of nine months, they will generate every living cell in the body. By studying this mysterious process, Melton and other researchers hope to be able to grow cells that produce insulin for Sam and other diabetics, or find ways to cure any number of other diseases.

The Globe piece ends with this quote from Marie Dooley, a Catholic woman who with her husband, Tom, donated their embryos.

Here’s why they did it.

``Science gave me a gift,'' she said, as her children circled around the dining room table. ``I felt I should give back.''

Children, once seen as a gift from a supernatural God, are now gifts of a scientific one.

“I can say is that if there is a God, his name is Dr. Richard Wells,” says one of the testimonials on the Godsend Institute site.

Jeremy Walker and the makers of Godsend don’t know how close to the truth they are.


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