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Human Cloning, Is it Ethical?

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1440
  • Category: Cloning

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Human cloning is and has been the subject of moral debate in the United States and around the world, and because of this it has raised many ethical questions. One thing that I do have in common with our previous president Bush is his principle that it is unethical to create human life for destroying it. I never thought about human cloning and its relevance until I watched the movie, called The Island. The Island is a sci-fi action thriller that reportedly cost about $120 million to make. Its powerful message is against creating human life in a laboratory and it truly came through loud and clear despite the ingenious and noisy special effects.

The Island tells the story of a government-funded billion-dollar laboratory hidden in the Arizona desert in 2019 where scientists do cloning on a mass scale. They sell $5 million “insurance policies” to rich people who want to live forever by buying replacement body parts. The scientists agree to follow ethical guidelines in their cloning, and falsely tell their customers that the clones are in a “vegetative state” unable to know or feel anything. Nevertheless, the scientists get better results by violating the guidelines and so they go to extraordinary lengths to keep secret the very existence of their adult clones as well as the whole operation. After watching the movie I do understand why on April 2002, President Bush warned that cloning will lead to experimental human beings, “embryo farms,” and “a society in which human beings are grown for spare body parts and children are engineered to custom specifications.” The Island dramatizes the truth of his prediction.

This movie left me with several questions that plague me still today. For instance, if human cloning technology were safe and widely available, what use would they have for it and what reasons would they have to use it? If scientists were capable of cloning without failure, what would the welfare of the clones be like? What truths will scientists keep from us just like what was depicted in the movie? Most importantly, would the clone be its own person or would it be an extension of the originator of the DNA? What comes to mind is that human cloning is playing with nature, better yet playing with God’s creation. What social challenges would a cloned child face? From these questions that I have played repeatedly in my head, I do stand firmly and will always feel as though human cloning is immoral.

Enough of ranting, allow me to give an explanation exactly on what human cloning is, so that there is an understanding of what’s this process looks like. Human cloning means making a genetic copy or duplicate of an existing person (Williams, 2003). It would be done by taking the nucleus from a somatic cell in an existing person and putting it into an egg whose nucleus has been removed (Williams, 2003). This somatic cell that provides nucleus can be derived from any cell of an embryo, fetus, child, or adult and possess two sets of chromosomes (Williams, 2003). Therefore, this means that the nucleus has been removed from the egg and it only contains one set of chromosomes.

After the process has taken place, the egg contains a nucleus and DNA derived from the other cell (Dixon, 2011). Then the egg will be allowed to cleave and will be implanted in the uterus. The baby that will become a child and further along in life an adult, would be the genetic duplicate of the person from whom the original cell nucleus was taken. A person created in this way would not have a genetic mother or father, but instead a “nuclear donor.” So in other words human cloning is a type of asexual reproduction and the process through which human cloning is accomplished is called “Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer” (Dixon, 2011).

To consider the cloning of another human being forces me to question the very concepts of right and wrong that make us all human. Over the years the U.S. Congress tried to pass a ban on all human cloning, along with the production of cloned embryos, in 1998, and again in 2001-2002, then again with the House of Representatives (Clinton, 1997). With so many attempts at banning it, one would wonder, why they are so afraid of the cloning idea. My guess is due to the failures that scientists had with their experiment on animals. You might not have known, but allow me to introduce Dolly, the sheep who was cloned in 1996. Dolly was one of over 200 sheep embryos that scientist tried to clone and hers was the only embryo that survived (Kitcher, 1996). Again, 199 sheep embryos were compromised for the benefit of science.

Believe it or not, these embryos all died or were even thrown away for the sake of not being well developed (Kitcher, 1996). Imagine if the failure rate was that high when we started to clone humans. More than 200 embryos, more than 200 human beings, would die for the sake of just one embryo. Cloning someone, now, would be extremely dangerous to the birth mother and the clone just like it was in Dolly the sheep’s case. Another example of such carelessness is in studies done on cows. Four out of twelve birth mothers died from this careless study (Williams, 2003). From the two studies I gathered that there is a high abnormality rate for the clone thus making it obvious why so many were not able to survive. Thus resulting in a very high failure rate, which is showed in the cloning of Dolly (Williams, 2003). Even if you had a few good embryos, miscarriages have been prominent with these animal tests.

So, should we forge ahead in the world of cloning? I say no. The risks outweigh the benefits. It is dangerous to the clone as shown within this paper but more importantly, it would also be very dangerous for the birth mother as in the cases pertaining to animal testing. We would be killing innocent human lives in the process. Ultimately, it would also be a violation of the clones right to its own genetic identity and individuality. However, scientists have not yet cloned humans, it is unethical to have a human clone. What about identity? Humans are guaranteed the right to their own personality. What would happen if we overrode those rights by giving them someone else’s genetic identity? True, personality is not bounded in someone’s genes, but the clone would share any physical appearance or genetic defect of the cloned.

Cloning would engross a degree of power and control over another person’s physical identity and that violates their rights and degrades their unique individuality. The person carrying out cloning would have more power than any parent would have. Cloning would also deal with killing embryos; humankind should not have this power over human beings. Biologists want to clone human embryos only to see how far they can push the scientific barriers. However, why is this their focus when today we still have children suffering with diseases that scientist have yet to explain or better yet have found a cure for let alone a cause. I strongly believe that we should stop meddling around with unnecessary science projects, in the sense that we will end up attempting something that we will someday regret. I do not believe that it is man’s destiny to fulfill the dream of cloning. It is against God’s will, and is an unnatural way to have babies.

I do not believe we should be cloning our own kind along with any other living creature. I believe that the United States should have a law banning cloning experiments on humans. I do not believe that a clone would be accepted in this world, therefore I do not believe that the clone will have as many rights and privileges as others. It is a possibility that they would be ostracized. Cloning will lead to designer babies that will ultimately be denied an open future. I do know that many people would not agree with me and I do understand. However, I remember one intelligent statement from the Island movie. It was made by Bishop Elio Sgreccia, and it is as follows: “Those who made the atomic bomb went ahead in spite of knowing about its terrible destruction, but this doesn’t mean that it was the best choice for humanity.” So cloning may sound like a great idea, however, there are bad effects behind someone’s thought of a great causes.

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