Salon Thinks Human-Animal Hybrids are an Insane Fantasy

biblical sheep
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Amanda Marcotte is the frequently hysterical pro-choicer who covers moral issues for She is often aghast at the work pro-lifers do to attempt to regulate abortion, defund Planned Parenthood and much else.

She’s in a full lather about whether there is such a thing as a “chimera,” a human-animal hybrid created in labs for medical experimentation. She says pro-lifers in Kansas are delusional when they ask candidates for office whether they oppose such things.

She writes, “No joke: One of the questions asked was whether the candidates oppose the creation of human-animal hybrids, which [Kansas Right to Life] calls ‘chimeras.’”

Note the sneer quotes around chimera. Note also her assertion that it is Kansas Right to Life that refers to them as “chimeras,” as if it is a word made up by pro-lifers.

She goes on, “…we are dealing with people who believe all sorts of fantastical things…”

Marcotte mocks Kansas Right to Life, “Personally, I’m more worried about the threat of a race of cyborgs rising up to kill us all. Has Ostrowski seen ‘The Terminator,’ much less ‘Terminator 2’? Unstoppable robots from the future bearing down on us with an immoveable will to kill is way more scary than the idea of people with cat tails, if you’re just making up random stuff that isn’t going to happen to be afraid of.”

She compares concern about human-animal hybrids with a “bizarre fear that people are going to become werewolves and werebears.” She calls the concern about chimeras an imaginary evil that makes “anti-choicer feel self-righteous and good about themselves…”

Marcotte is simply not up on scientific advances that have been publicized in the popular and scientific literature for more than a decade.

In her story she also mocks the concerns about the buying and selling of “baby-parts” by Planned Parenthood. Put aside the buying and selling. One of the chief reasons scientists want baby-parts is precisely to make human-animal hybrids in order to test drugs that cannot otherwise be tested safely on pure humans.

So, do chimeras exist or are they part of the fevered imagination of Kansas Right to Life and other pro-lifers?

Just a few months ago, MIT Technology Review published a piece titled: Human-Animal Chimeras are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms. “Braving a funding ban put in place by Americas health agency, some U.S. research centers are moving ahead with attempts to grow human tissue inside pigs and sheep with the goal of creating hearts, livers, or other organs needed for transplants,” the article begins. Note the concern of “America’s top health agency” that has chosen not to fund such research for ethical reasons. Will Marcotte mock the National Institute of Health?

The NIH worries about the chances that animals could be altered into a “cognitive state” if they received human brain cells.

Scientists now are injecting human stem cells into days-old animal embryos, “then gestating these in female livestock.” MIT Technology Review interviewed three teams, two in California and one in Minnesota and “estimates that about 20 pregnancies of pig-human or sheep-human chimeras have been established during the past 12 months in the U.S….”

At a November presentation at the NIH, researchers from the University of Minnesota, “provided photographs of a 62-day old pig fetus in which the addition of human cells appeared to have reversed a congenital eye defect.”

While the NIH won’t fund such research, the Minnesota team has received a $1.4 million grants from the U.S. Army to try and grow human hearts in swine.

Can these hybrids be gestated to birth? Scientists have said they have not allowed that to happen, implying that it is certainly possible.

The literature on this topic is easy to find. Even Huffington Post has published a critical piece about this.  One can imagine that even animal rights activist will be concerned about such experimentation. Before mocking the concern of Kansas Right to Life, which she calls “insane”, it might have been good to research similar concerns from the scientific establishment and even the popular press.


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