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In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Up The Long Ladder", even though the away team's DNA was taken without permission, wouldn't killing their defenceless clones be an act of murder and against Federation law?

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    Up the Long Ladder" was criticized from two directions. Snodgrass recalled, "I got enormous flack from the right to life coalition because they destroyed the clones. They thought I was condoning abortion. In fact, I did put a line in Riker's mouth that was very pro-choice and the right to life coalition went crazy. He says "I told you that you can't clone me and you did it against my will, and I have the right to have control over my own body." That's my feeling and it was my soapbox, and it was one I got to get on. I was supported by Maurice all the way." - Memory Alpha – Valorum May 1 at 9:49
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    Note that these were incomplete clones, rather than fully actualised individuals – Valorum May 1 at 9:59
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    Take a look at the DS9-episode "A Man Alone". Odo arrests some guy, reasoning "Killing your own clone is still murder." – Mirko May 1 at 13:10
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    Though in that episode he was turned over to BAJORAN authorities... it could be that it's a crime under Bajoran law and not Federation law. The Federation has a serious phobia about genetic engineering (remember Bashir's troubles) and cloning except for strictly medical reasons probably fits along with that so honestly I could see a "you're allowed to kill a clone made of you without your consent" rule existing. – starpilotsix May 1 at 15:41
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    The clone is A Man Alone was fully formed and conscious. The clones in Up the Long Ladder weren't. – Harry Johnston May 1 at 18:13
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No, because at the point they were terminated they weren't viable. In essence, Riker and Pulaski performed their own abortions. For fictional reasons, they had to show the clones as adults in order to be recognizably Riker and Pulaski, not to mention that showing them younger would raise all sorts of issues. Like it or not, it's more acceptable showing something that looks like an adult being killed than something that looks like a child.

The difference with DS9's "A Man Alone" was that the clone was a fully-functional entity. In essence, the difference was between terminating pregnancy and murdering a baby after it's been born. Historically, and in most cultures, it's recognized there is a difference between those acts.

  • I don't know why this answer is downvoted; the episode's author basically admitted it was a pro-choice argument: "In fact, I did put a line in Riker's mouth that was very pro-choice and the right to life coalition went crazy. He says 'I told you that you can't clone me and you did it against my will, and I have the right to have control over my own body.' That's my feeling and it was my soapbox, and it was one I got to get on." Quoted from Captain's Logs here: memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Up_The_Long_Ladder_(episode) – Joe Aug 12 at 15:42
  • @Joe If the answer included that quote, then I'd be inclined to upvote it since it includes an out-of-universe reason for why it's presented as morally permissible (whether one agrees with the rationale or not). Without that, it felt like this answer bringing up abortion was out of the blue and speculative. – Thunderforge Aug 12 at 16:05
  • Except that it wasn't out of the blue or speculative; the situation was exactly as described. The clones in the first instance were not viable, as they were still explicitly in the process of developing, in the second it was obviously viable as it was an independent entity. The analogy to pregnancy was obvious, and the historical statement was accurate. The fact that some people don't like that doesn't change it. – Keith Morrison Aug 12 at 19:36
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Starfleet General Order 1 is never fully quoted or recited but is along the lines of "No Starfleet personnel or spacecraft may interfere in any way in the natural development of an alien culture." This would apply if you consider the Mariposans to be an alien culture. In that case leaving any genetic material with the Mariposans would be a direct violation ie: the Enterprise crew would be obligated to kill their clones. However, classifying the Mariposans as an alien culture may be a bit of a stretch as they're a colony of humans presumably originally from Earth. In the case that you consider them to be federation citizens, their use of cloning as a means of propagation would likely be considered a criminal act due to regulations implemented after the Eugenics Wars. This wouldn't necessarily justify the killing of the clones as Starfleet General Order 2 prohibits the taking of intelligent life. It is also stated that Starfleet prohibits the death penalty except in the case of mutiny.

In short, it's a convoluted gray area. There are regulations that allow officers to make extreme decisions in extreme situations and at a formal court martial I'm sure one such regulation could be used to defend Riker. Essentially the killing of the clones would be treated as legal until a flag officer or Federation official called for a court martial.

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    I've edited to create a more complete explanation. – user1 May 8 at 16:18
  • The Prime Directive was not relevant. In "The Masterpiece Society," they explicitly stated that human colonies are out of scope. – Kevin Aug 12 at 19:10

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