Cloning 10 Essay, Research Paper
Cloning: Fact Vs. Fiction
Millions of people pour into movie theatres every weekend. There are movies about sports, romance, politics, and Science Fiction. They are meant to entertain people, however many people actually leave a theatre believing what they just saw. There are movies where some evil genius devises a cloning machine, where someone just walks into and out he comes along with his clone. This might have made the movie enjoyable, but have put the idea of cloning in a bad light. There are many reasons why the public fears cloning, however, most fears are unsupported. People are afraid of cloning just as they are afraid of anything new in their lives. When artificial insemination was first introduced to the masses, it was frowned upon. That fear not only inhabited the citizens of the United States, but also congressional representatives. That fear led to an immediate ban of all research and practice of cloning. Cloning ought not be banned, merely regulated.
The instantaneous cloning might be entirely crucial to the plotline of a movie, but this cannot actually happen. Cloning is actually a long process. In order to clone a baby, an unfertilized, enucleated egg cell is needed. Enucleated simply means that no genetic material remains inside the egg cell. In addition, some genetic material is needed; usually this is taken from any cell by extracting the nucleus. After injecting the egg cell with the genetic material, an electric shock is applied. After the cell goes through several divisions, it is placed inside a woman. Afterwards the cloning process is carried out like any other pregnancy. The immediate cloning is just one of the many misconceptions that people in society believe.
Many people argue that cloning is an insult to human dignity. Usually people who make this argument are unable to explain why cloning offends human dignity. The argument is supposed to be self-evident. The argument is based on “genetic essentialism”, or “genetic determinism” a belief that one’s unique humanness is entirely a product of one’s DNA. The argument is reductionist and itself an affront to human dignity. It is somewhat ironic that the UNESCO Declaration on the Human Genome, after stating clearly that people should not be equated with their genes, goes on to say, without explanation, that cloning is an affront to human dignity (Hollinger 48). Nothing is more of an insult to human dignity than believing that one s individual ness is based on one s DNA. There are people in every field of science who assert that clones will be treated as second-rate, because they are “carbon copies”. Is this not an affront to dignity? This is a “science fiction” view. Do twins feel “second rate” because each looks like the other?
People also claim that cloning is unnatural. Nature creates clones all the time, as identical twins. This happens in about three and a half to four births per thousand births. Twins ordinarily think of themselves as individuals, not as carbon copies of someone else. Identical twins differ in many respects. They have different life expectancies, fingerprints, IQ’s (by up to 20 points), risks for schizophrenia (if one has schizophrenia, there is a 30% chance that the other will not), sexual orientations (concordance for homosexuality ranges from 0% to 100%) and chances of criminal behavior (concordance is about 50%). Identical twins differ for the many reasons. An embryo may divide at any time up to about 14 days after conception. X-chromosome inactivation (lyonization) in early female embryos randomly turns off one X-chromosome in each cell. The halves may contain different proportions of paternal and maternal X-chromosomes when an embryo “twins”. “Genetic imprinting” (the process that marks which genes are be activated) in early embryos is variable (Hollinger 59).
Even conjoined twins are different from each other. Eng and Chang Bunker, the original “Siamese twins”, had different personalities. One was a depressed alcoholic, the other a cheerful teetotaler. They married separate wives, alternated living in separate houses, and fathered 21 children. Abigail and Brittany Hensel share a common body below the neck, but feel sleepy or hungry at different times and may get different grades in school. Clones would not be as alike as twins would, because clones would have different developmental signals from the different eggs from which they develop, different mitochondria from the eggs, different prenatal environments (e.g., maternal nutrition, toxic exposure), and different postnatal environments, including family and historical period (Hollinger 59).
It is all right if nature makes clones, but if we do it, we are “playing God” (Colvin 39). Modern medicine rarely leaves matters to “Nature”. In Vitro Fertilization, they try to keep 700-gram newborns alive, and, where culture and religion permit, use donor sperm, eggs, or embryos. Why is cloning different from other reproductive technologies?
Clones will become increasingly inferior, as more copies of the same individual are produced (Wakelee-Lynch 55). This is the “photocopy machine” argument. There is no scientific evidence for it. What people fail to realize is that a clone is not necessarily a copy of someone else. It can be the synthetic combination of genetic material. Even if all of the genetic information is taken from one person, the cloned baby can take many different paths during development.
There are people who allege that cloning uses a human being as a means to an end. Parents have children for many reasons, both selfish and unselfish. The same would be true of cloning, but why should it be subject to special rules? If society examines people’s motives for parenthood and gives them “licenses” to become parents, this would give governments dictatorial powers. Sometimes it may be ethically allowable to conceive a child primarily for the benefit of someone else, as long as the child is loved and cared for as an equal with a family’s other children. This has already occurred, where parents of a teenager with leukemia conceived a child as a marrow donor. Consider the following case, which actually happened in the United States. A couple has a teenager with leukemia. She will die within two to three years without a bone marrow transplant. The parents cannot find a donor with compatible marrow, so they conceive a baby in the hope that the baby will have marrow suitable for a transplant. There is a one-in-four chance that the baby’s marrow will be compatible. When asked on a survey, without knowing the case’s outcome, 65% of U.S. genetics patients and 52% of the U.S. public approved the couple’s decision. In the actual case, the baby had compatible marrow, the teenager’s life was saved and the parents were happy with their new baby (Evers 70).
A very common fear is that cloning will be used to create armies or slaves. Armies and slaves can be created faster and more cheaply by other means than cloning. This fear of a 2nd Holocaust is very inane. It is unlikely that clones will be mass-produced. Women have to bear them and someone has to raise them. This is an important point that much discussion about cloning overlooks (Harris 43).
In addition, a common claim is that wealthy people will clone themselves to have organ banks of “spare parts” in case they need hearts or livers. These clones could be made without heads, so they could be killed for organs without committing murder. Using another person for “spare parts” is murder and would be prosecuted as such. Clones are undeniably persons. Making “headless clones” to supply organs would also be murder. It would require decerebrating (removing the higher brain) of a fetus or infant. Since the fetus or infant falls under the same legal and ethical rules as a non-cloned fetus or infant, whoever did this would be prosecuted. Furthermore, there is no need to create an entire human. Individual tissues or organs could be grown.
Many argue that parents, or societies, will have unrealistic expectations of clones. A clone of Beethoven would be expected to produce an equivalent of the Ninth Symphony. A father might expect his clone to be his equal in sports. Everyone will suffer if clones do not live up to expectations. Parents may have unrealistic expectations in the absence of cloning. Cloning may reduce these expectations. A cloned parent who is clumsy will not expect the child to excel in sports (Hollinger 59).
In addition, many religious people believe that cloning will create new forms of the family. This is true, but is this necessarily harmful? Just because a family relationship is new and untried is not a reason to condemn it automatically. In the past, well-meaning policymakers have condemned as harmful many types of family relationships later shown to cause no harm to the children. In the United States, family constellations that most lawyers and ethicists considered harmful 20 years ago are now accepted. These include: joint custody of children after divorce, single motherhood, single fatherhood, single-parent adoption, interracial adoption, and lesbian and gay parenting. None of these has been shown to harm children, provided that enough economic resources are available (Poor families, whatever their structure, usually do not do as well) (Hollinger 60).
There is no reason to prejudge potential families with cloned children (Boyd 319). As with adoption, in-vitro fertilization, and use of donor sperm, how the child will react to the news about his or her mode of arrival in the world will depend largely on how the parents themselves feel about this mode of reproduction. If they are at ease with it, the child will be too. If they are not, there may be problems. Parents and children may adjust to cloning far more easily than people think, just as has happened with in-vitro fertilization. Predictions about dire psychosocial harms from IVF and other new reproductive technologies have turned out to be wrong.
A common but absurd argument is that people will abandon sexual reproduction in favor of cloning. This is ridiculous, in view of financial costs. In addition, cloning is no fun. Most couples prefer a child related to both, not one.
People worry that they may be cloned surreptitiously, against their will. It is true that blood taken for medical purposes or hair left at the barbershop could be stolen. Laws are necessary to prevent this by requiring the consent of any person who is cloned (or of the parents, if the individual is a child). In the United States, civil lawsuits (for monetary damages) might be a deterrent. This would be regulated by laws that would be put into place, but is no reason why cloning should be banned. In addition, there really is no reason why someone would be cloned by a complete stranger.
Many ethicists believe that cloning “commodities” children. All reproductive technologies and adoption cost money. This does not make a baby less valuable to its parents or reduce the amount of love they give it. Below is a price list of what various reproductive alternatives cost. In Vitro Fertilization costs about ten to twelve thousand dollars. Donor eggs usually cost about five thousand dollars. The adoption of healthy white infant can cost anywhere from twenty-five to forty thousand dollars. Surrogate mothers can cost about forty-five thousand dollars. People can only guess what cloning may cost, no one knows for sure, because research on cloning techniques cannot be performed (Kaveny 138).
Some say that cloning will increase social inequalities, because only the richest will be able to afford it. This is an excellent argument. However, this is true of all new reproductive technologies (NRTs) and of prenatal diagnosis. Differential use of NRTs could increase existing differences between classes in health and longevity. The only way to prevent this is a universal health care system guaranteeing equal access to even the most expensive NRTs and restricting their use to infertility that cannot be treated otherwise.
Many people who are against cloning claim that cloning is unsuccessful. “Only 1 in 277 tries” succeeded for Ian Wilmut s Dolly. People seem to almost universally believe that because it took “277 tries” to make Dolly, that means there were 276 miscarriages or deformed or dead lambs along the road to Dolly. The Washington Post reported exactly that shortly after Dolly was born, and we ve been reading it in the newspapers ever since. However, that is not true. Dr. Wilmut started with 277 reconstructed eggs; eggs that had their nucleus removed and were then fused with an adult cell. The number 277 refers towards the number of eggs used. The eggs were then cultured in sheep oviducts, and of the 277, only 29 divided and became embryos. All 29 embryos were transferred to the uteruses of 13 sheep; some got one, some got two and some got three. When Wilmut later performed an ultrasound, he learned that only one of the 13 sheep had become pregnant. That pregnancy proceeded normally and produced Dolly. There were no dead or deformed lambs, no miscarriages, and no discarded embryos in this particular experiment. More importantly in perspective to fertility treatments involving In Vitro fertilization (IVF), IVF doctors and the federal government measure the success rate of IVF clinics by the ratio of live births to uterine transfers. IVF with humans began in 1978, but it wasn t until 1990, after 12 years of worldwide human clinical practice, that the average success rate for IVF in humans got to be as good as one out of 13; the Dolly success rate. (Today the average IVF success rate is about one out of four, but it took 20 years of human clinical practice and research to get it there). Moreover, in the year Dolly was conceived, 1995, the largest IVF clinic in the San Francisco Bay Area, was creating thirty human embryos for every one that made it to the delivery room, compared with 29 for the Dolly experiment. The only part of the Dolly experiment that was out of line with IVF success rates of either today or the recent past was the large number of eggs it took. It was very inefficient (Tucker 128).
The second cloning experiment to be reported in a peer review journal, the cloning of fifty mice in Hawaii, had an efficiency rate (measured by number of eggs per live birth) that was ten times higher than the Dolly experiment. The third published adult cell cloning experiment, using cows in Japan, was seventeen times more efficient than the Dolly experiment in terms of the number of eggs needed to get each live birth. Furthermore, if you go back to the measurement of success that IVF clinics use, live births per uterine transfer, the Japanese transferred two embryos into each of 5 cows and ended up with 8 calves, all five cows gave birth to at least one calf, which is better than any IVF clinic in the world can do today (Tucker 129).
Some biologists state that cloning is unsafe. Cloning will produce damaged children, because the cells of an adult human have been exposed to environmental toxins for many years and have developed new mutations. Children may age and die rapidly because the chromosomes in an adult have shortened telomeres (end points of a chromosome that shorten with each cell division, until the cell is no longer able to divide), a result of cellular aging. Animal experiments are necessary to answer these questions. It would be unethical to proceed with human cloning until animal experiments have proved its safety.
Some newspapers claimed that Dolly was born already the age of the sheep that she was cloned from, which is six years old. This assertion is based on an experiment that attempted to measure Dolly’s telomeres; telomeres are structures within cells that become shorter with each cell division. However, that experiment has been widely criticized for technical reasons; it seems that the telomere measurements were within both the margin of error of the study and the normal variation for sheep. Also because on the same day that Ian Wilmut announced the “telomeres problem,” the company he works for announced that it had found the solution to the problem, a substance called telomerase. There is a more fundamental reason not to worry about Dolly s telomeres. If Dolly were born six years old, then she was 9 years old when she had her triplets. Since virtually all Poll Dorset sheep (Dolly s species), are dead by the age of nine, which would make her the “fertile octogenarian” of sheep. Not only does Dolly show no signs of premature aging, she is doing things, like having triplets, which would be impossible if she were prematurely aged. The truth is that Dolly is a healthy young sheep (Tucker 128).
A number of theologians think cloning is a denial of death. So is having a child in the usual way, at least in some cultures. In the Old Testament, which had no belief in an afterlife, one of the greatest blessings God could bestow was that one’s descendants would live long upon the earth. In China, one has a duty to have children in order to “keep one’s ancestors alive”. The clone does not carry one’s consciousness or soul into the future, only one’s genes. Therefore it is hard to see how this is a greater denial of death than simply having children (Nuland 127).
Cloning could reduce human diversity, especially if carried out on a large scale. This is unlikely with humans, though it could occur with domestic animals. Most people want to have children who are the biological offspring of both or at least one parent, not the clone of some famous individual. Mass cloning of famous or wealthy individuals who want to populate the earth could be prevented by regulations that would stipulate that the number of cloned children could not exceed the maximum that would ordinarily survive in nature, probably five (quintuplets) or the number now allowed by most sperm banks (ten). It appears extremely doubtful that anyone would attempt such mass cloning, except in a totalitarian society. Families would have to accept and rear the cloned embryos, and the experience of sperm banks suggests that most people do not want the children of famous people, but want healthy children who are like themselves (Walter 131).
Many of the fears that congressional representatives attempted to alleviate by banning cloning, were completely unwarranted. These fears lead them to a hasty outlawing of any and all practices involving cloning. Along with these fears are several misconceptions that lead the congressmen to believe something that could not be farther from the truth. If these qualms were dealt with consideration, the congressmen would not have banned cloning just simply put forth some laws regulating it. Who is to say what will happen in the future, but everyone must realize that cloning will play a big role in that future.