We all know of the famous lamb, Dolly, who was the first lamb to be cloned from an adult cell. The formation of Dolly raised many people s fears for the future of human cloning. Before proceeding to deal with the question of human cloning, a more basic concern needs to be addressed. Some, for example, may be asking, “Why would anyone want to clone anything in the first place, but especially sheep? Sheep can be genetically engineered to produce a certain human protein or hormone in its milk. The human protein can then be harvested from the milk and sold on the market.
There may be other benefits to cloning technology. For example: reprogramming the nucleus of other cells, such as nerve cells, could lead to procedures to stimulate degenerating nerve cells to be replaced by newly growing nerve cells. Nerve cells in adults do not ordinarily regenerate or reproduce. This could have important implications for those suffering from Parkinson s and Alzheimer s. While we have established that animal cloning may be permissible and even scientifically useful, what about cloning humans? Harold Shapiro, chairman of the Federal Bioethics Advisory Commission, sees no problem with it.
Himself a twin, he feels there are much scarier technological issues to deal with today than the ethical advisability of producing twins in a laboratory. According to an article by Barry Came with Sharon Doyle Dreidger, Shapiro believes that this entire affair is going to end up producing a lot more benefits than costs (Shapiro, quoted in Came & Dreidger, 59). When thinking of cloning humans, most people think of the movie Gattaca, in which DNA determines everything, from the person s looks to what job he/she will hold.
Dr. Gerald Klassen, a bioethicist and a professor of medicine at Dalhousie University in Halifax, points out that We have the idea that doctors are particularly ethical and that they will always make the right choices. But then you look at the extraordinarily high participation rate of the medical profession in the eugenics experiments of Nazi Germany. (Klassen, quoted in Came & Dreidger, 59). Could cloning turn out like that? Already scientists are talking about the possibility of using cloning to produce spare body parts — replacement hearts and livers, lungs and kidneys.
If this is allowed, it is not impossible to foresee in some countries the production of an entire class of sub-people to produce spare body organs. There is no question that this would be a human rights violation of epic proportions. Came and Dreidger also quote Margaret Somerville of McGill s Center for Medicine, Ethics and the Law, who, while she considers cloning a medical miracle, strongly feels it is ethically unacceptable for human beings. She feels that the revulsion most people feel for the very idea is a moral intuition, an innate gut reaction that we ve got to listen to when we sit down and do our cool logic.
Human cloning is a radical shift in the whole nature of the uniqueness of each human from a genetic point of view (Somerville, quoted in Came & Dreidger, 59). In what way does this change our idea of the human being? From a religious standpoint, it calls into question the nature of the soul – that supposedly unique and eternal essence which most Western religions consider each person to have, like a spiritual fingerprint. Many theologians feel that to meddle with the creation of life is to meddle with the very essence of what it means to be human.
Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish theologians all caution against applying the new technology to humans, but for varying reasons. Catholic opposition stems largely from the church s belief that natural moral law prohibits most kinds of tampering with human reproduction. And while Protestants tend to support using technology to fix flaws in nature, Protestant theologians say cloning of humans crosses the line. As quoted by philosophy Prof. David Fletcher of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. , It places too much power in the hands of sinful humans. It is an area where we cannot go.
It violates the mystery of what it means to be human (Wray, et al, 59). Whatever person or situation we envision, it is usually scary because we “think” DNA determines everything and the clone will be an exact copy of the original. We do not think the clone has a soul, and we believe that the brain, the attitude, the physique, and the tone of the person will be exactly the same. Yet, we have to realize that all these are illusions created by scientific movies or books. In reality, the cloned person will have a mind of his own and will not be a carbon copy of the original.
If we view a clone as a special person, then there will be no cloning just for organs. Since one cannot take another s organs without his consent. Even without cloning, there are still black markets that steal babies from the poor and sell their organs for profit. The question is also raised about the chance of someone wanting to clone an army. Cloning armies is very unlikely, since in order to clone a whole army, one would need the capital to hire scientists that could perform the genetic engineering and mothers that would be willing to have babies after babies.
People whom worry about having a cloning factory also worry about how to control the clones. If one simply views a clone as a special creation like all of us, than there would be no worries since it is similar to how one would control his child. A clone will be an individual with the same DNA as the original person, but he will still have a soul. Whether or not the “being” is cloned or achieved through natural birth makes no difference (Bailey). Having addressed these questions we can conclude that by making cloning illegal, important scientific research that could help mankind is also being restricted.
The continuation of human cloning and its related actions could drastically increase our scientific knowledge of genetics and lead us to new discoveries concerning the human body and related issues. In an editorial in the Dallas Morning News (Monday, 3 March 1997, 9D) by Tom Siegfried, which he titled: It’s hard to see a reason why a human Dolly is evil. He summarized his perspective when he said, The ability to clone is part of gaining deeper knowledge of life itself. So Dolly should not be seen as scary, but as a signal that life still conceals many miracles for humans to discover.
If human cloning were to undergo technological advances, the study of health would also drastically improve. Cloning would provide better research capabilities for finding cures to many present-day diseases such as Tay-Sachs, cultivate new skin for burned patients, and allow infertile couples to bear children. There is no moral wrong in genetically making a carbon copy of an individual. Some people worry that cloning an individual means making an exact copy of another person. This is true only in physical form, but not in psychological form.
The time and environment in which a person lives affects his mental functions rather than his genetic information. Having this in mind we can conclude that two or more people that are physically the same will have different personalities, beliefs, and values. The process of cloning is almost as natural as a normal conception. It does not involve a machine or any artificial products. The living embryo containing an organism s DNA is merely placed inside a substitute mother for birth. In cloning, a real live being is produced just like in birth.