To Clone Or Not To CloneTo Clone or Not to Clone
“On a soft summer night July 5th, 1966, at 5 p.m., the most famous lamb in history entered the world. (Kolata, pg 1) “Many people wonder if this is a miracle for which we can thank God, or an ominous new way to play God ourselves.” (Duff, pg1) Now the question is do we clone humans next? For what reasons would we clone humans? Would this be an ethical thing to do in the right situation? These are the issues I wish to discuss in this essay.
From the time I was a child I have been hearing about cloning, and until recently, it was only as a science fiction theory. Cloning is now a reality. It undeniably has some very scary prospects. It is very questionable as to just how some in the scientific world will now attempt to proceed with this process, now that it is a reality instead of a theory.
Over the years society has picked up coined words from the scientific, but cloning has to be one of the all time favorites. A fairly simple word, clone evokes more controversy than any other word from science. Cloning is not much different from in-vitro fertilization. The major difference is that only one parent donor is required. It is basically creating an identical twin in which one is younger than the original. The word clone refers to one or more offspring derived from one ancestor. You would think with such a simple definition it would not be such a controversial subject, yet it is.
The possibility of this technique being applied to the human race shakes me to the very core. Could we be heading to the Hitler ideal of a more superior race? Will we use it to insure all babies will be born without birth defects? Will it be a way for some more fortunate to store extra body parts for later use? Will it replace adoption? Could that part of society considered unacceptable be eliminated? These are only a few of the numerous possibilities of its uses. Could cloning in its self produce a perfect world?
One truly outrageous idea many people have, is that people from our past such as Hitler, could be cloned. Nothing is further from the truth. At the present time cloning is only done using living cells, so no person already deceased, could be cloned. Even if it were possible, it would not be the Hitler from history. This is a totally different world than he lived in. The factors that determined his personality are no longer in place.
Many plants purchased these days purchased these days are clones. So the theory is as old as man. It is merely taking a living piece of one thing and producing another, and it seems this is completely acceptable. It is only when science crossed over to animal life that the problems began. People realized if it could be accomplished with a sheep it is completely conceivable that it can also be done with a human.
Not only a moral issue it is also a religious issue. Many are afraid we will end up with these armies of drones, not real people. Any human, if cloned, would be like you and me, totally unique, with a soul, merely a younger identical twin raised initially in a petri dish.
Some religious organizations have made formal responses to the cloning issue. Here are some of them.
The Catholic Church: Pope John Paul II released a statement condemning the cloning of all life forms. The Vatican also issued a statement that only condemned human cloning, but did not address other forms.
Judaism: The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Meir Law, stated that the cloning of any creature is against Jewish law. However, some believe cloning in order to produce better food and medication would be allowable in Jewish tradition.
World Council of Churches: Martin Robra, executive secretary- the council would prefer a moratorium until all ethical questions can be resolved.
There is one problem with the cloning of Dolly that no one has the answer to: Was she six years old when she was born? The cell that was used to create her was from a six-year-old ewe. Cells apparently have an age mechanism that cannot be reset. If this is true, her life expectancy will be short. Will it have any effect on development? Assuming all of this, a baby that was cloned would be the age of its donating parent, a true medical problem.
At the present time, the cloning of humans has been banned in the United States and various other countries. The possibility of mutations is one of the reasons for this action. In early experiments on frogs, mutations occurred. Are we willing to risk one mutation in human testing? What if there was a problem would terminate that life? At what point is it a life? This is a debate that has gone on for years in the abortion conflict.
There are many good things that could be accomplished with the use of cloning. A greater understanding of miscarriages and their causes is only one. Along with this would go treatment for spontaneous abortions? The creation of animal organs compatible with humans could be possibly accomplished. Spinal cord injuries might be able to be treated, by regenerating stem cells, to repair damage to tissue.
There are already a lot of controversial issues going on due to cloning. There are those wanting sperm and eggs extracted from comatose partners for later use. This is a highly legal issue, since no one can seem to agree to the ownership of these two things. There have even been those requesting that their dead pets be cloned, since they are irreplaceable. Some parents of terminally ill children have requested that their children be cloned.
To me, cloning a terminally ill child would be a strange thing indeed. Although the cloned child would be an identical twin to the ill one, it would be a totally separate human being. Would it be right to expect this child to take the place of one you have lost? This would be a huge responsibility for a child to try and live up to. What would it do mentally to this cloned child, to not be wanted for itself, but to replace another? Since this child would have the identical gene make-up of the original, would it not also be susceptible to the same illness.
There are a few common misconceptions I would like to address. A clone would be a normal human being, an identical twin, only younger. Cloning only produces life from existing life it does not create it. A human clone would have a soul. Twins have souls and the same applies here. It is widely believed that a clone would have the same emotions and feelings as the genetic parent. This is also false. The last is probably the most outrageous. It is a wide belief that great people in our history could be re-born. This is not possible since a clone must be developed from a live cell.
Here are some arguments used against and in defense of human cloning:
? Cloning might lead to the creation of genetically engineered groups of people for specific purposes, such as warfare or slavery.
? Cloning might lead to an attempt to improve the human race according to an arbitrary standard.
? Cloning could result in the introduction of additional defects in the human gene pool.
? Cloning is unsafe. There are too many unknown factors that could adversely affect the offspring.
? A clone might have a diminished sense of individuality.
? A clone might have fewer rights than other people.
? Doctors might use clones as sources of organs for organ transplants.
? Cloning is at odds with the traditional concept of family.
? Cloning is against God’s will.
? Some aspects of human life should be off limits to science.
ARGUMENTS IN DEFENSE OF
? Cloning would enable infertile couples to have children to their own.
? Cloning would give couples that are at risk of producing a child with a genetic defect the chance to produce a healthy child.
? Cloning could shed light on how genes work and lead to the discovery of new treatments for genetic diseases.
? A ban on cloning may be unconstitutional. It would deprive people of the right to reproduce and restrict the freedom of scientists.
? A clone would not really be a duplicate, because environmental factors would mold him or her into a unique individual.
? A clone would have as much of a sense of individuality as do twins.
? A clone would have the same rights, as do all other people.
? Cloning is comparable in safety to a number of other medical procedures.
? Objections to cloning are similar to objections raised against previous scientific achievements, for example, heart transplants and test-tube babies, that later came to be widely accepted. (*This information is from World Book)
I have to admit, that when I started this paper I was deadset against cloning. The more and more I read and study about the subject, I find myself changing my mind. There seem to be a lot of definite good things that could be accomplished. Don’t get me wrong; there are definitely some problems to be worked out. But admit it; is there really anything that does not have problems?
Sure there are crazy people out there that may try and do strange things. They are out there everyday doing strange things not related to cloning. Already there is a cult out there; they think they are aliens cloned. They have some very odd ideas. This is no reflection on cloning, though. If it were not cloning it would be something else, like Elvis. Is everyone against him, because of all the rumors and weirdoes surrounding him? No, it only makes him even more fascinating.
We are constantly looking for medical breakthroughs in all areas. Why not allow the professionals in the cloning area use the knowledge they have to try and better the quality of life. Sure, there will have to be governing laws as in anything else in this country, but don’t completely tie their hands. Remember a few years ago people felt the same way about in-vitro and surrogate mothers as they do about cloning now. These days that stuff is old news.
Roses are cloned all the time to make them more healthy and disease resistant. Does the human race deserve less than a flower. Maybe we should step back and take a good look at our standards. Do we hold some less important things above the most important things? Is the quality human life not the ultimate goal in this time and age? If not, it certainly should be.
I am definitely looking at cloning as a positive thing. Not all issues are resolved in my mind, yet. That may come with more information and technology. I definitely do not think that there should be a total ban. Some type of research needs to be allowed and a some point, testing of some type.
For years cancer has eluded doctors as to a cure. There are treatments and some go into remission, but are they ever really cured? Maybe the answer to the cancer cure could also be in some form of cloning. I have no doubt that there are those working outside the rules and regulations on cloning. Most of these though are not the ones we need. We need the big laboratories, with the money to back them to be working on this issue.
Maybe, like so many other things, it will take time for people to accept. But how much time do we have? What about all the people dying now that might possibly benefit from cloning? I say lets get moving and find out just what can and can’t be done. Maybe in the end we will all be disappointed but at least the effort will have been made.