Cloning Essay, Research Paper
To clone or not to clone, that is the question. If Shakespeare were alive today, he mightwell have used this phrase instead of the one he chose for his play Hamlet. The question is an important one because Dr. Ian Wilmut, an embryologist from Scotland,recently stunned the world by declaring that he had cloned a lamb from the DNA of a ewe.Since the technique he used may possibly be reproduced to clone a human someday, thepublic outcry has been considerable, as has the question of whether our society is ready toaccept the cloning of human beings. When Americans were recently polled as to whether they approved of human cloning,nearly nine out of ten indicated that they did not. Clearly, Americans are not ready to dealwith this lofty issue. It was not so long ago when some of these same objections and concerns were raised withthe process of in-vitro fertilization. Joining a sperm and egg in a test tube and thenimplanting it into a woman was considered immoral, unethical, and playing God. Now, in-vitro fertilization dominates infertility clinics throughout the world, with thousands ofchildless couples becoming parents because of this innovative procedure. If human cloningcan be demonstrated to benefit humankind it too may someday become acceptable undercertain conditions. The technique Wilmut used is important to understand. The nucleus (which contains all ofthe DNA genetic material) of an adult sheep cell was starved of essential nutrients to makeit dormant and thus inhibit division. An unfertilized sheep egg’s nucleus was then removedand replaced with this dormant adult nucleus, thereby creating a fertilized egg with thesame genetic material as the adult sheep to be cloned. The dormant nucleus was thenstimulated in such a way as to bring it back to normal function and thus behave like afertilized egg. That cell was then allowed to grow and divide before implanting it into asurrogate mother in a similar way as is performed with in-vitro fertilization. Objections to cloning a human include issues dealing with morality. Shouldn’t moral valuesdictate that a human be limited to the union of man and woman. However, because all cellsof our body are such unions anyway, is not a cloned individual a product therefore of aman and woman’s genetic union as well? Ted Peters, a professor of theology in Berkeley, California, stated that “the way I read theBible, the status of that person before God would not be any different from anyone bornthe old fashioned way.” Peters did add that, while he did not believe cloning to be
unethical, it would be unwise to begin such a process in humans without considerablepublic discussion and debate on the topic. Obviously, the Scots agree because they haverecently announced a considerable reduction in funds for cloning experimentation. TheBritish have acted similarly. President Clinton, as well, has banned spending federal moneyon human cloning while urging a halt in private research money being used. In addition,Clinton has called for a 90 day review of the consequences of cloning from the NationalBioethics Advisory Committee. Fantasies about possible nefarious activities with cloning include attempting to create abasketball team by cloning five or more Michael Jordans or using cloning merely to harvesta line of organ donations, or satisfying the ego of a wealthy ego maniac. The truth of the matter, however, is that history has proven over and over again that thescientific process cannot be stopped, especially if there is a positive element containedwithin the process to help humankind. Dr. Maher Hathout, a cardiologist and spokespersonfor the Islamic Center of Southern California, said that there were no limits on researchbecause “knowledge is bestowed on us by God.” He further stated that “the only problemwill come with how we are going to use it, for good or for bad.” If a human is cloned someday, surely that human will not only have similar genetic materialas its parent , but will also have a soul. It should be remembered that just as identicaltwins are not exactly alike physically, intellectually or emotionally, a cloned human will alsohave significant differences from its original donor. Writing in the New York Times, George Johnson noted that while it is possible to clone abody, it is impossible to clone a brain. Johnson further states that wiring up a brain is socomplex that it is beyond the power of the genome computer. The best genes can do is laydown a foundation. However, as the brain develops much occurs without geneticinstructions. Following birth the human experience significantly alters precise circuitry.Subtle, and not so subtle variations will occur and so the fear of a perfect identical thinkingclone is not possible. Human cloning will result in a likeness but certainly not a carboncopy. Currently it defies imagination what useful benefit to humankind cloning would have.Perhaps its use would be justified in couples with serious genetic disorders who do notwish to use donor eggs or sperm when trying to conceive. Only time along with seriousdeliberation by society and experts will tell. Until then, there should be a moratorium on any research that attempts such a process inhumans.