Human Cloning Essay, Research Paper
According to Webster s New World Dictionary (1990), a clone is “all descendants derived asexually from a single organism.” In layman terms a clone is an exact duplicate of another organism, therefore a human clone would be a perfect copy of another human being. According to the American Medical Association, the scientific name for cloning is “somatic cell nuclear transfer,” which means the nucleus of an existing organism is transferred into an oocyte from which the nucleus has been removed (AMA 1998). In order to produce a clone, an unfertilized egg and a donor cell is needed. The donor cell can be anything from a piece of skin to a rib or hair follicle anything that has DNA encoded on it. The unfertilized egg is then fused with the donor cell and activated with an electrical current; this is then placed in the fallopian tubes of a surrogate mother. A clone grows in the same ways a natural fetus would grow and can be delivered in the same way as well, or can be grown in a laboratory. Cloning has a history that dates back sixty-three years, to 1938. In this year an adult frog cell was transplanted into the nucleus of an egg of another frog. Since 1938 many other animals have been cloned. In 1962 a tadpole was created from an adult cell, in 1979 three mice were cloned, and in 1984 a lamb was cloned from embryonic cells. The most prolific event in cloning history though, came about in 1996 when the first adult mammal cell was cloned. Embryologist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Scotland were the first to accomplish this feat. “Dolly” was created by taking an adult sheep cell and fusing it with a sheep egg and then growing the fetus. Although there is a chance that “Dolly” was a fluke caused by a rare mutation in a cell, most scientists believe this cloning was the first successful cloning of a mammal cell (Makovsky 1998). Once clones are produced they can be used in various ways and in many different situations. Clones may be used as a fertility aid for women who are unable to have children. Clones could be grown and then used for matching bone marrow, or clones could be used for organ donations for a sick patient. I believe these uses for cloning would be appropriate except for the fact that in order to clone one bone or one liver an entire person must first be created. Because of this, I believe human cloning is immoral and unethical and should be banned in the United States.
I believe cloning could be a possibility in the far-off future. I think this because I believe if it can be done safely and morally, it could benefit humans. Human cloning could be an option for infertile parents. It would also be a good option for bone marrow patients who need an exact match, but can t find a donor with it. Cloning could also be used to produce organs for people that need organ transplants and don t want to risk an organ being rejected by their bodies
But as of now I don t believe cloning is an appropriate action. Many people agree with me as well, after “Dolly” was cloned ninety percent of Americans felt that human cloning was “morally repugnant, (Makovsky 1998). But Americans were not the only ones who felt this way. Seventeen European countries have banned human cloning for reproductive purposes (Arundi 1999). This means that cloning could not be used by infertile parents to create a child.
In the United States four states have also banned cloning for reproductive purposes. In 1997 the National Bio-ethics Advisory Commission recommended a moratorium on cloning a child, so President Bill Clinton banned federal funds for human clone projects for the next five years. The ban, which will end this year, makes it illegal for scientists to experiment with human cloning. A bill was brought to the senate in 1998 to make human cloning a felony, unfortunately it was rejected. The bill if passed, would have prohibited the use of somatic-cell nuclear-transfer technology (the technology used in the process of cloning) and it would have brought with it the penalty of up to ten years in prison.
Other steps have been taken to try to ban human cloning, although most have turned out unsuccessfully. Just recently the Food and Drug Administration announced its authority to regulate human cloning. This announcement means that human clones, if ever produced, would basically be a product, much like meat or cigarettes, and clones would be controlled by the FDA.
Many of the reasons as to why legislation has been brought up in opposition of human cloning are due to many of the safety issues concerning human cloning. To create “Dolly” over two hundred sheep went under nuclear transfer, of those only twenty-nine succeeded in being implanted, and eventually only one (”Dolly”) was successfully cloned (Sinha, 2000). That low success rate may seem acceptable when working with animals like sheep and mice, but it is completely unacceptable when applied to human beings. In addition to an incredibly low success rate there are many birth defects that may result from cloning. For unknown reasons, clones grow larger than normal fetuses in the womb. This would cause problems for both the clone and surrogate mother. Deformities due to mutations in cells are also quite common in clones. In one experiment headless mice were intentionally cloned, and headless humans were discussed as a viable option for growing organs for donations. Supporters for this extremely controversial type of cloning rationalized it by stating that if headless humans were created, they would not actually be humans, therefore it would not be unethical to just use them for an organ or a bone and then kill them (Kontorovich, 1998). Because the cell being cloned is usually an adult cell, the clone will also be predisposed to age related cancers immunological diseases, and other mutations that may not become evident until the clone reaches a certain age.
Safety concerns are not the only issue surrounding human cloning. Cloning is viewed as a “radical manipulation of the constitutive relationality and complementarity which is at the origins of human procreation in both its biological and strictly personal aspects” by the Vatican (Christian Century, 2001). This view of cloning, as a “manipulation” of human relationships that are formed at birth, is shared by many religious and moral leaders. Many religious groups believe cloning takes the humanity out of human reproduction. They also question whether or not a clone would have a soul. In normal human procreation life is given by God, and therefore a soul is given to each person, but human clones would be created by a scientist in a laboratory and it s impossible to guess as to whether they would have a soul. Many people also question whether it is ethical to produce a child that may end up having to use a wheelchair or have prosthetic limbs due to mutations when they were cloned (Arundi, 1999). Since there are currently no ethical standards or laws for cloning, people could be cloned with disabilities or mutations on purpose. Cloning also brings humans one-step closer to immortality, which is something that is meant for God rather than humans. When someone is allowed to clone someone the person performing the cloning is playing God. Overall cloning undermines all sacred and religious principles by putting humans in the position of a higher being.
Cloning may have psychological impacts as well as physical impacts on the clone. Cloning would blur the line between parents, children and siblings (Arundi, 1999). It would be hard to determine whether your clone (that you carried as a surrogate mother) was your child or your sibling. The argument that a clone is just like a twin is not reasonable because of the huge age difference and the probable difference in mothers. For example if a thirty-year-old woman decided to be cloned and decided she would carry the clone, would the clone be her child or her twin? This is a question that does not have just one answer. This would cause an identity crisis for both the clone and the person that was cloned. The clone may also experience feelings of inferiority to the person he is cloned from or may feel like he must make the same decisions as the person he was cloned from made earlier in his life. Another question brought up is that of what kind of rights a clone would have. The constitution of the United States, says that “All men are created equal,” but a clone is not created the same way as a natural human being is. This may mean a clone would be treated as a second-class citizen, with no uniqueness or individuality or possibly even as a slave.
Another disadvantage of cloning would be that humanity would not be improving itself, rather it would constantly be staying the same (Kontorovich, 1998). Although it may seem like a great idea to clone an Albert Einstein, the clone wouldn t be any better then him. Higher life forms (like humans) have two parents for a reason (Kontorovich, 1998). This reason is so that genotypes are constantly changing and making people better. If cloning became the main means of reproduction our world would not improve at all.
If cloning did become legal in the United States, more problems could arise. The fear of a cloning “black market” has been brought up by many people (Boisselier, 2001). If someone illegally obtains the DNA to a famous movie or sports star, they may sell it to another person on the “black market.” It would also be next to impossible to decide who could and couldn t be cloned and then to enforce those laws.
The American Medical Association holds four points of reasoning as to why human cloning should not be permitted to take place, they state: “(1) There are unknown physical harms introduced by cloning, (2) There are unknown psychosocial harms introduced by cloning, (3) Possible impacts on familial and societal relations, and (4) Potential effects on the human gene pool,” (AMA 1998). These four points alone are more than enough evidence to come to the realization that human cloning would not benefit humans.
Human cloning is taking a cell from one person and copying this cell, then growing it to become exactly like the original. Humans have always been born from two parents and “as with other technological innovations, science fiction should not drive science policy,” (Arundi, 1999) rather our own morals and ethics should be the major force when making the decision of whether to clone or not. Cloning is not an appropriate means of producing human beings, and its benefits are far outweighed by the negative side effects that come with it. Human cloning could spark dozens of problems in the United States, including illegal cloning and unethical cloning. From a moral, medical, psychological, and legal standpoint cloning does not seem like it would improve humanity. Because of its ill effects on the overall human condition, I believe the United States needs to join with the other seventeen countries that have already banned human cloning. The United States needs to stand up for morality and pass a law to make any type of human cloning illegal and enforce it with strict punishments for violators. I believe the best type of law for this would be a federal one, which would ban human cloning in every state, not just some.