I have a clone. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., and her name is Diana. She's my body double: blond hair, hazel eyes and fair skin. She's half an inch taller, but we have the same voices and the same mannerisms. We're both unmarried. We love to read, we relish Mexican food, and we get the same patches of dry skin in winter. We both play tennis and golf. O.K., she's funnier than I am--but just a little.
In the debate over the ethical, emotional and practical implications of human cloning, identical twins--distinct beings who share the same DNA--present the closest analogy. Identical twins are in fact more similar to each other than a clone would be to his or her original, since twins gestate simultaneously in the same womb and are raised in the same environment at the same time, usually by the same parents.
But even with our genes and backgrounds the same, my sister and I are very different people. Diana is a corporate lawyer; I'm a former magazine editor, now a literary agent. She studied classics at Bryn Mawr; I studied the history of religion at Vassar. She favors clothes that have actual colors in them; I opt for black. She's politically conservative; I'm more liberal. She's a pragmatist; I'm an optimist.
We're not the only twins with differences in our family. My father, a writer and former diplomat, had an identical twin brother, Francis, who was a right-brained banker. Francis, who died in 1992, also had identical twin daughters. My cousin Rose is an intense adventurist while her sister Peg is softer and more traditional.
Of course, there are ways in which identical twins are bound together that are more profound than the usual sibling links. When I walk into a room, it takes no more than a glance before I can sense my twin's mood--if she's happy or tense or upset. I know what it's about and why. It's something I suspect few people, maybe not even all twins, experience. Would clones? I suspect not, since their life experiences would be so different.
Other connections between Diana and me may be more related to our matching DNA and thus more applicable to clones. My twin and I filter information in much the same way, and we think, perceive and interpret things similarly. When we're together, we often respond simultaneously with the same word or sentence. We have put on the same T shirt on the same day in different cities. We have friends who are twins, both doctors, who have similar experiences. They took a pharmacy class together in medical school but sat across the classroom from each other and took separate notes. They studied separately for the exam. When it was returned, they had missed the same questions, for the same reasons.
Despite these shared propensities, people who hope they can create a duplicate of, say, a lost child may be setting up that clone for heartbreak. Imagine the expectations that would be created for such a person. Comparisons are tough enough on identical twins. Between Diana and me, there were issues such as who got the better grade, who scored more points in a basketball game, who had more friends. But neither of us had to live with the idea that she was created to match up to the other's best features. A cloned child might not play the piano as well as the original. Or be as smart.