To Clone Or Not To Clone: Is There Really A Question? Essay, Research Paper
The debate on Cloning all began in 1997 with the birth announcement of a sheep named Dolly. Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an individual cell. Since then, the debate over human cloning has dominated the bioethics community and almost all industrialized nations have banned human cloning in one form or another. The European parliament pushed through a resolution on cloning. The preamble states:
The cloning of human beings… cannot under any circumstances be justified by society, because it is a serious violation of fundamental human rights and is contrary to the principle of equality of human beings as it promotes a eugenic and racist selection of the human race, it offends against human dignity and it requires experimentation on humans… Each individual has a right to his or her own genetic identity and that human cloning is and must continue to be prohibited (Harris, 360).
Dr. Leon Eisenberg defines cloning as “the aggregate of the asexually produced progeny of an individual organism” (Eisenberg, 471). Human cloning is dangerous to society two for very important reasons. It has serious moral implications. Furthermore, the cloning of human beings could have serious psychological and ramifications toward clones and their progenitors.
The actions and conclusions of leading experts in the field of bioethics have proven it as a field of very little substance. While most fields related to ethics have a very solid foundation bioethics stems from the current views and opinions of society. There is only one absolute in bioethics. The welfare of the patient is paramount to all other aspects of treatment. However, this is a statement that can be molded and manipulated to fit the desires of patients, doctors, and scientists in the arena of genetics and cloning.
Soon after the announcement of Dolly’s birth President Clinton formed The National Bioethics Commission. The goal of this commission was to examine the issue of cloning and make policy recommendations from their findings. The commission recommended a five-year moratorium on cloning. Their findings and recommendations had several flaws.
The most serious flaw of the commission was the sunset clause of five years. Their rationale was as follows: “As scientific information accumulates and public discussion continues, a new judgement may develop and we as a society need to retain the flexibility to adjust our course in this manner” (Callahan, 18). Callahan goes on to say:
It is impossible to say that the implicit premise of the rationale for a sunset provision is that all moral judgements should be open to new information and the fruits of public discussion. If so, then should it not apply also to the right of informed consent, reproductive choice, and the reprehensibility of slavery? Should the Nuremberg Code, for instance, now just fifty years old have had a sunset clause? If not, it is hardly evident why such a provision is more pertinent to cloning (18).
One of the major ethical roadblocks in the debate over human cloning is that cloning would take away one’s sense of individuality and significantly devalue what it means to be human. A cloned person would spend his or her entire life with the knowledge that there is someone else in the world with the exact same genetic makeup as him/her. This could go so far to cause the clone to view him or herself as a mere replacement. This would be a far greater danger if a child were cloned to replace a child who had died early in life.
Scenarios similar to this paint a portrait of a human life as something easily replaced. This would mean that being human would not have nearly the significance it does today. If a human being can be replaced by a small amount of genetic material, that person could be viewed as insignificant and disposable (Annas 123).
The financial drive of medicine presents another moral issue in the realm of cloning. Clinics and corporations are involved in fierce competition for patients. This can cause them to push risky projects that have few or no real benefits into public practice merely because people are calling for and will pay for them (Shannon, 116).
The final ethical question raised by cloning is this: who is to be held responsible for taking care of this new life? The person whose genetic material is being used could easily be separate from the clone and claim no responsibility, as does a sperm donor. The person involved in giving birth to the child could also claim no responsibility since she is merely a surrogate.
Human cloning is dangerous to society. The moral implications alone are reason enough to ban cloning. However, the psychological ramifications toward clones and their progenitors only add to the urgency to permanently ban cloning.
(1997) Goodbye Dolly? Journal of Medical Ethics, v23n6, 353-360
(1999) Would cloned humans really be like sheep?
New England Journal of Medicine, v340n6, 471-475
(1998) Why we should ban cloning. New England Journal of Medicine, v339n2, 122-125
(1999) Ethical issues in genetics. Theological Studies, v60n1, 111-123
(1997) Cloning: the work not done. Hastings Center Report, v27n5, 18-20