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Rachel Duncan: Straight Out of Cold Bitch Digest

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I'm really intrigued to learn more about the newest clone. So far she seems very cold, but since we've only seen her in the context of her job I can't wait to learn more about her.

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Can we change her title to "straight out of cold bitch digest?"

I'm actually kind of missing Rachel the last couple weeks. I'm looking forward to the upcoming showdown with Sarah.

Edited by bravelittletoaster
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I think Maslany outdid herself with this chick; she's poised and reserved in body language in a way that a lesser actor would make too similar to Allison.  She completely believes she's in control of her own destiny in a way that a lesser actor might have made too similar to Sarah or even Helena.  But then when Sarah got in her face, she looked like she might have pissed herself in terror.  Frelling nuance.

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With the reveal of some of Rachel's backstory, she's reminding me more and more of Ariane Emory from CJ Cherryh's clone novel Cyteen. Ariane Emory is a clone who has been brought up in a very specific way, psychologically--down to how her parenting, or lack thereof, was handled--so that she will have the 'right' temperament to continue her predecessor's work, including running a gigantic political/scientific organization. She's outwardly extremely cold and calculating. Although she would have never been caught off guard by Sarah as easily as Rachel was. 

Edited by kieyra
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Jumping off my previous post:

 

This week more parallels emerged:

Ariane's parents 'died' when she was young and she was handed off to an older male guardian who was also a scientist. However, the 'death' of her primary parent was a ruse intended to harden her. (I guess this could turn out to be a show spoiler, down the road, if so it's not my fault!)

Ariane is aware of herself as a clone and a test (well, as of late childhood), even though other control subjects are not.

Ariane has an intense need for personal security guards...who she has sex with.

And finally, Ariane inherited from her gene mother (the original Ariane) a tendency towards sadism along with her sexual encounters, including rape, which is a key element of the first act of the (very long) novel. In this regard, Rachel is sort of an amalgamation of the 'original' Ariane Emory (who was more of a 'bad guy', at least as seen by other characters; and again there's the rape), and her eventual clone, who is the one set up specifically to carry on the original Ariane's work but who struggles to be a better person than her predecessor. Like, by not raping people, for instance.

This book is absolutely my favorite book, and also my 'favorite book that I've rarely been able to discuss with anyone' because Cherryh's writing can be pretty inaccessible. As more of Rachel's story unfolds I keep being ever so slightly indignant, but mostly bemused and happy that someone else obviously read the damn thing and thought it would make a cool homage in this show.

(Meanwhile, if anyone actually read this, thanks for listening...although if you ARE someone who's read the book and you DO see what I'm talking about, reply or PM me, for the love of jeebus. If you haven't, and you like SciFi, and you're into the questions of identity and ethical implications raised by the idea of cloning...read it.)

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I love Cherryh but haven't read this one of her's yet so I'm finding the parallels really interesting. 

 

And now I'm realizing I should probably lay off the book spoilers. :) (Although I've just barely scratched the surface and haven't mentioned the central 'mystery'.) 

 

It's definitely adding another cool layer to this season for me. 

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Can we pm here yet? Message me all the spoliers you want. I'm curious how this central mystery fits with your comparisons.

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It is pointed out that Rachel's personality is at odds with the loving relationship with her parents that is shown on the home video. Although a betrayal or loss of that relationship could have made her into Cold Bitch, maybe she too is a twin, and, if so, she is the Helena-esque version. Okay. Now that I've typed that, it just sounds like a bad idea in a clone story.

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Sure but admit it; prior to last season, if someone had said, "There is an awesome tv show about clones where, in the season finale, the only clone able to have children kills her long lost evil twin sister in a shoot out after the evil twin kills their surrogate birth mother," a lot of us would have seriously questioned the judgement of whomever said that.  It sounds ridiculous and over the top on paper (erm, screen?) but totally worked. 

 

I'm not saying I want Rachel to turn out to also be a twin, though.  Amusingly, I think it sounds ridiculous and over the top (it also doesn't fit with everyone's surprised and curious reactions to Helena and Sara, so far).  I'm just saying that if this show's writers went that way, I bet it would be way more awesome than it sounds. 

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I ended up really sad for Rachel. I think she's the most tragic of all the clones, and what she said about not remembering the love was so heartbreaking. I didn't think she deserved that final rejection from Ethan. He abandoned her to Dr. Leekie, after all, rather coldly trading her for his own safety. I don't know that there could have been redemption for her, but I wish the show had been willing to try (or at least paced things a bit more slowly with her story line). They were willing to move Helena's character from antagonist to ally, after all. 

 

I also think it's lame that Rachel's downward spiral into unhingedness did, in the end, seem to be all about the baby rabies. I'm not quite clear on what she planned to do with Sarah's ovaries, but her statement to Delphine that Dyad got what it wanted but Rachel didn't, indicated that baby making was going to be part of it.

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I felt sympathy towards Rachel.  She didn't know that her parent abandoned her but finding out would obviously be devastating.  It was equally devastating to learn that most of what she thought she knew about herself and the project that created her was a lie.  It was unbearably cruel of her father telling her that she didn't deserve him, especially after what he had done to her when she was a child.  

 

Still, that sympathy doesn't remove the villainous taint.  She's undoubtedly been an antagonist to our protagonists.  I sympathize with her life having shaped her into the person she was but I'm still able to condemn her for the horrendous acts she's performed.  I don't discount a potential redemption arc.  For me, it's not really needed, but there's still potential for it.  She has an eye injury and the camera moved away from her when she was clearly still alive.  Eye injuries aren't necessarily fatal.  Brain injuries aren't either.  Her recuperation period could involve her understanding what she has done and what DYAD and her creators did to her.  She craves family and she already sort of knows that the clones have bonded as a family.  If she wants to be a part of that AND also gain control of her body (which includes reproductive choice), then she'll have to change her ways.  The clone fam is fairly forgiving, as evidenced by their acceptance of Helena.  There's still a chance for Rachel.  

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I ended up really sad for Rachel. I think she's the most tragic of all the clones, and what she said about not remembering the love was so heartbreaking.

That pretty much sums up Rachel for me - so lacking in love all her life (Leekie aside, I guess) that she apparently forgot what it felt like. And not just filial love, but any love really. No wonder she lashes out at Sarah and Cosima, who (to her) have everything she's always wanted.

Sarah has all the familial love that Rachel never had - from Kira (child), Mrs. S (parent), and Felix/Helena/Cosima (siblings). In that sense, I can understand her desire to have a baby because a child would love her unconditionally.

Meanwhile, Cosima has the romantic love with Delphine that Rachel probably never experienced, either with her own monitors or other men. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just can't see Daniel really loving Rachel. And I doubt Paul had any genuine feelings for her. I loved how she rolled her eyes when Delphine practically begged to say goodbye to Cosima - as if to say, please, you're just her monitor you can drop the act. But when Delphine unequivocally states that she loves Cosima, Rachel actually does pause as she's walking away, perhaps filing away another resentment against her genetic identicals.

So what a blow it must have been to know that Ethan - who seemingly never tried to get her back in over 20 years - chose Sarah and Cosima over her, with respect to giving the cypher to Sarah (well, Kira) and refusing to unlock the rest of the synthetic sequences until DYAD cured Cosima. Yowza. No wonder she went off the chain!!!

With all that said, I hope Rachel isn't dead. I don't know if I necessarily want a redemption arc for her. But with Marion on the clones' side (for now), we still need a strong antagonist from the DYAD sphere and Rachel would fit the bill.

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I really hope Rachel isn't dead, and that she makes a return in season 3. And not only because I find Tatiana Maslany's performance as Rachel to be the sexiest of all the clones (barring the unsettling sex scene with Paul the Human Mannequin). Something about the ice queen persona and the cut glass accent really worked for me.

 

But I agree that Rachel was as tragic as Helena, in her own way. She was betrayed as surely as any of them, by a man she thought she could trust. She was lied to all her life, and taken away from a loving, nurturing environment, to become what Leekie wanted her to become. The fact that she kept all those old family videos, and apparently watched them frequently, says so much about what she really wanted, underneath the cold, hard exterior. 

 

And then, for her to find out that the one thing she'd clung on to; the idea that she was special because she was self aware, was complete nonsense, and that she was not only just another clone, but she was actually less special than Sarah because Sarah's body somehow overcame the designed infertility. The final straw that just broke her, which I think TM played so well in that scene where she watched the videos and was clearing coming unglued.

 

It's odd to me, the different treatment characters sometimes get from writers. Helena ended season 1 with the blood of at least one 'sestra' on her hands, and also the blood of her birth mother. She was a crazy, unrepentant murderer who Sarah felt she had to kill. And at the end of season 2 (prior to her latest kidnapping), she's at the clone dance party, totally accepted by the others. Is Rachel irredeemable because she actually took Kira, instead of letting her go like Helena did? She didn't hurt Kira (who, by the way, is too much of a deus ex machina, angel child for me to like much at all). Reminds me a little of Falling Skies, which I gave up on after the characters went to hell and back for harnessed kids like Ben and Ricky, but never gave a shit about Karen, and actually ended up killing her. That's the writing that bugged, not the characters.

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Helena ended season 1 with the blood of at least one 'sestra' on her hands, and also the blood of her birth mother. She was a crazy, unrepentant murderer who Sarah felt she had to kill. And at the end of season 2 (prior to her latest kidnapping), she's at the clone dance party, totally accepted by the others. Is Rachel irredeemable because she actually took Kira, instead of letting her go like Helena did? She didn't hurt Kira (who, by the way, is too much of a deus ex machina, angel child for me to like much at all).

 

The thing is, Helena was basically trained from childhood to be a killer, and essentially brainwashed by the Prolethians to assassinate the other clones.  (Pretty much like Jet Li's character in the movie Unleashed.)  She didn't completely shake off the programming until after Sarah shot her.  Rachel doesn't have that excuse.  Everything she did was of her own free will.

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Rachel did have that excuse, except she was trained and brainwashed by Dyad instead of the Proletheans. She's as much a mirror for Helena as she is a mirror for Sarah. If Helena can be redeemed, Rachel certainly can be (and I would argue that Helena has n'tbeen redeemed so much as declared a member of the protagonist Clone Club by writer fiat in much the way Rachel was declared an antagonist by writer fiat).

Edited by Zuleikha
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Maybe she might've been, right up until she destroyed the vials of bone marrow.  As far as she was concerned, she was dooming Cosima to a slow, agonizing death just to spite Sarah, and I don't really see her being redeemed after that.

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Rachel did have that excuse, except she was trained and brainwashed by Dyad instead of the Proletheans. She's as much a mirror for Helena as she is a mirror for Sarah. If Helena can be redeemed, Rachel certainly can be (and I would argue that Helena has n'tbeen redeemed so much as declared a member of the protagonist Clone Club by writer fiat in much the way Rachel was declared an antagonist by writer fiat).

 

Exactly this. It's so clearly a writing decision, rather than a character one, that it bugs me. None of the clones ever gave Rachel a chance, and even when she was telling Sarah they could work together to bring Kira back, Sarah attacked her. Now, I like Helena, and I'm glad she's been redeemed, but I find it unfair that she gets so many chances to move past her issues and become a better person, but Rachel isn't allowed to.

 

And this is getting into the 'Nature vs Nurture' argument, but I don't see how Rachel can be evil, when you look at all the other clones. Sarah, Cosima, Alison, Beth, Katya and any others we know about have been inherently good people. Even Helena, under her psychosis and after the years of abuse, has been shown to be capable of being a good person. So trying to say that Rachel can't be is a crock, especially after they repeatedly hinted that there was a whole mess of emotional need under the surface, just being drowned out by her determination to be cold and logical. Just try harder to get through to her instead of, y'know, not trying at all.

 

Maybe she might've been, right up until she destroyed the vials of bone marrow.  As far as she was concerned, she was dooming Cosima to a slow, agonizing death just to spite Sarah, and I don't really see her being redeemed after that.

 

 

I could say the same of Helena after she murdered Katya in cold blood. And again after she murdered her birth mother in cold blood, for no other reason than revenge against her for giving her up. For choking Sarah until she gave her name, for threatening to kill Sarah first if she didn't give up the others. 'Oh but Helena was crazy'. Yeah? I think, clearly, so was Rachel. She needed help, not a pencil through the eye.

 

So that makes her even more tragic, because she's the one clone that none of the others reached out to. Perhaps the writers can fix this in season 3, but I doubt it. Because mean, nasty Rachel took Kira, and any perceived slights against that glorious angel child must be punished mercilessly.

Edited by Danny Franks
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I'm fascinated by this character, and I'm hopeful she's indeed not dead. There are just too many layers left to explore there - and the show has barely scratched the surface of her real persona. 

 

On the other hand, I feel like there has been way too much Helena on the show in season 2, and I find Rachel a much more compelling antagonist than s1 Helena anyway. There's a method to her madness.

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I think Rachel could be redeemed, but I would personally prefer if they didn't redeem her. For one, as this discussion proves, we've already done that exact story with Helena. Right down to being apparently killed by Sarah in the season finale. I'd rather she actually stay dead, for that same reason, but if she does come back, I'd rather that she not turn good. She's a good villain--I understand her motivations and where her psychosis comes from, and it only makes her scarier. I don't see why one of the clones can't be on the side of badness.

 

I don't think ANY of the clones was interested or willing to bring Helena into the fold or to help her get better while she was a threat to them. They were afraid of her and they tried to kill her several times. They developed a shaky truce this season, after Helena saved Sarah from the Cylon, and after Sarah convinced her not to kill Rachel and Paul. That only developed into a real relationship on the S/H roadtrip. 

 

So it's not like the Clone Club was just like, "Oh, I think we should save THIS one, but not THAT one." Rachel has done nothing to indicate that she wants a relationship with them, and actively works against them most of the time. Until she shows otherwise, she is a threat to them and their loved ones, and will be treated like one the same as Helena was.

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So it's not like the Clone Club was just like, "Oh, I think we should save THIS one, but not THAT one." Rachel has done nothing to indicate that she wants a relationship with them, and actively works against them most of the time. Until she shows otherwise, she is a threat to them and their loved ones, and will be treated like one the same as Helena was.

 

No, that's what I mean. The writers made that choice, and left the other avenue totally unexplored. And because the writers chose it, it makes the rest of the clones look slightly like asses for never once even suggesting that Rachel might be better than she appears. Besides, Rachel did offer to help Sarah, as I mentioned, and Sarah pistol whipped her. Was Rachel being sincere? Probably not, but Sarah didn't even attempt to find out. I found the whole 'we're patented' reveal somewhat underwhelming, in the end, because nothing ever really came from it. Did Rachel want to claim them as property? She never tried to do so with Alison, who signed the contract. Did she want to claim Kira? She didn't even take Kira until the infertility revelation and the resulting breakdown. Was she even an enemy, before Sara made her one?

 

Daniel's methods were brutal, and he was definitely a bad guy, but we know he wasn't acting as Leekie wanted, and Daniel himself suggested he didn't know if Rachel would be happy with him hurting Sarah.

 

I don't necessarily want Rachel to be redeemed (though I imagine her presence at that dance party would have made it even more surreal and awesome), but I would like the character to be given more by the writers than, 'ice queen is crazy, she has to die'. If she's alive next season, I'd like to see her be a more ambiguous antagonist. Especially given the new revelation of the male clones, and Project Castor. Rachel and her knowledge of Leda could be incredibly important, even if she never becomes more than a reluctant, temporary ally.

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I don't necessarily want Rachel to be redeemed (though I imagine her presence at that dance party would have made it even more surreal and awesome), but I would like the character to be given more by the writers than, 'ice queen is crazy, she has to die'.

 

 

I think Rachel has been developed as a complex character, but her interactions with the other clones has been one-dimensional. They only see the murderous ice queen and don't see the tormented, isolated clone. Even with Helena, the other sestras see her playful and sarcastic side. I wish the Clone Club would have a chance to interact with Rachel in another setting. One without guns or sharpened pencils.

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No, that's what I mean. The writers made that choice, and left the other avenue totally unexplored. And because the writers chose it, it makes the rest of the clones look slightly like asses for never once even suggesting that Rachel might be better than she appears.

Well, sure, the writers make every choice, and they haven't made this one yet. That doesn't mean they never will. But even if they don't bring her back or have her join the Clone Club even as a tenuous ally as you said, I don't see why that's not fair to Rachel. She's a character. And if they go a different route with her than with Helena, they're trying to say something different. Something about the nature/nurture balance maybe. Just because Helena and Rachel share the same DNA and were both indoctrinated for their entire lives doesn't mean they would respond to it in exactly the same way, or respond to their eyes being opened to the truth in the same way. That's more interesting than the alternative, in my opinion.

 

And back to the writers' choice not to let the other clones open up to Rachel: sure, it might have been nice if one of them had raised the idea of trying to bring her in, but as I've said, she was actively working against them. And she wanted to bring THEM in, forcibly, on her terms, not theirs. That they didn't react by trusting her shows intelligence on their part, not a lack of empathy.

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I don't blame the others for not reaching out to Rachel. In fact, I assumed they were going there and I dreaded it. I was pleasantly surprised that she remained villainous. Helena was redeemed by her love for Sarah. She wanted that relationship so much that she turned her back on all the lies she'd been taught. Rachel gives the impression that she finds them beneath her and she isn't interested in having a relationship with them.

I also think that while Helena and Rachel were both raised in abusive situations, Rachel sets herself apart from Helena because she is more vicious than she really needs to be. Helena did what she was told by Tomas, but Rachel goes beyond Leekie's methods. She answers to others up the chain of command, but it seemed at least to me that most of her decisions were hers. And she almost always took the approach of threatening, manipulating, or hurting. Others have commented on her offering to help find Kira, but that was only after Sarah wasted valuable time she could have been searching for Kira because they wanted her to think they had Kira. I completely understand Sarah knocking her out just for that, but Sarah may also have thought she'd be detained if she didn't. I think Rachel is jealous, not just of Sarah, but of Alison and Cosima, and any others who had families and real lives because they didn't know they were clones. Helena would have equal reason to be jealous or bitter, but that only seemed to manifest with anger at Emilia, not at the other clones. She seems to have a core of compassion and goodness that Rachel lacks. I don't think that's been a bad decision by the writers. I've liked what we've seen so far.

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I find Rachel a very tragic character, maybe one of the most on this show. I wouldn't mind if she stayed dead, but I think she's still alive just because the writers probably like her as a character.

 

In the beginning, it was hard for me to be interested in her. Perhaps it was the writing or perhaps it was even TM not use to the role. By the end I did feel that Rachel had become one of the most interesting clones. TM was able to show more of her range as the character. She was cold, manipulative, vicious, angry, bitter, jealous, and ultimately tragic. I felt for her and I don't think she should be redeemed. Doesn't mean that they can't do it, but as it is so far, I've liked what I've seen from the character.

 

I have mixed feelings about Helena's redemption, but I definitely liked her more in S2 than S1. Rachel is the better antagonist.

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Just because Helena and Rachel share the same DNA and were both indoctrinated for their entire lives doesn't mean they would respond to it in exactly the same way, or respond to their eyes being opened to the truth in the same way.

 

I think you mean "eye".

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Rachel's my least favorite, although I did empathize with her feelings of loss for the childhood taken from her.   But by the end, I didn't feel that bad about her getting her eye shot out with a pencil or whatever - and I wouldn't mind at all if we didn't see her next season.  She does nothing for me. 

 

I did think her father's decision to commit suicide in front of her was pretty tragic, though, and Tatiana did a great job in that scene. 

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I think the show raised a really interesting question about Rachel being designed to be infertile.  Was it morally wrong to do that to her?  If she was born and they did that to her, then that's clearly a heinous thing to do but if she was a fetus when they messed with her DNA, then the line becomes murkier.  Because at that point in her development, she wasn't really a person, just a clump of cells, and since society condones abortions, altering her DNA probably isn't a big deal.  But they were intending for her to be born, so does that make their sterilization of her as wrong as if they did it when she was a living breathing person?  

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I think your last line clinches it. Rachel, and all the other clones aside from Sarah and Helena were effectively sterilized for no reason except that the scientists didn't want to deal with the hassle. They intended the clone embryos to be born, to grow and live as individual people, so altering their DNA in that way is morally and ethically wrong no matter the abortion laws in the country. The point of legal abortion is to allow the woman carrying a child a choice, because that's what human beings are owed, and Project Leda removed something from these women that they had no right to remove. Just like all the other violations of their agency and privacy, this one was wrong, period.

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I think your last line clinches it. Rachel, and all the other clones aside from Sarah and Helena were effectively sterilized for no reason except that the scientists didn't want to deal with the hassle. They intended the clone embryos to be born, to grow and live as individual people, so altering their DNA in that way is morally and ethically wrong no matter the abortion laws in the country. The point of legal abortion is to allow the woman carrying a child a choice, because that's what human beings are owed, and Project Leda removed something from these women that they had no right to remove. Just like all the other violations of their agency and privacy, this one was wrong, period.

 

I understand what you're saying but the sticking point for me is when the sterilization took place.  Unlike the other violations of the clones' privacy and agency, Project Leda sterilized them when they weren't even people so what's the moral wrong?  At that time in their development, they have no legal or moral rights.  It's interesting that if they hadn't intended to bring them to term, they wouldn't have violated any ethics but because the scientists allowed them to be born, their action retroactively becomes wrong.  How can a moral action retroactively change from neutral/good to bad?  Idk, it's a very interesting moral grey area.

 

Regarding abortion (getting wildly off-topic here), is the main thrust of the argument that the fetus isn't a person, so it doesn't matter what happens to it or is the main argument that the woman's right to bodily autonomy trumps the fetus' "right to life"?

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I understand what you're saying but the sticking point for me is when the sterilization took place.  Unlike the other violations of the clones' privacy and agency, Project Leda sterilized them when they weren't even people so what's the moral wrong?  At that time in their development, they have no legal or moral rights.  It's interesting that if they hadn't intended to bring them to term, they wouldn't have violated any ethics but because the scientists allowed them to be born, their action retroactively becomes wrong.  How can a moral action retroactively change from neutral/good to bad?  Idk, it's a very interesting moral grey area.

 

Gonna skip the abortion question because this is probably not the venue, but I'll take another swing at the rest:

 

1) Project Leda intended to bring their embryos to term from the beginning, so they intentionally damaged human beings and violated their rights. It's not a retroactive change from good to bad. It was always bad.

 

2) There is no difference between sterilizing an embryo you intend to implant and bring to life, and messing with any other essential part of its DNA. Like, if they altered the DNA in such a way that the clones' limbs were underdeveloped, or they were blind, or any other thing that affects their quality of life.

 

These are embryos they intend to be implanted, carried, birthed. They intend them to become human beings. Damaging them in advance is morally wrong, period. No gray area in my opinion.

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