In the past few years, the topic of cloning has been in the news a lot. It is a very controversial issue, with many opposing viewpoints. While some find it acceptable, others object for religious reasons. A big concern is the possibility of abuse of this new technology. One of the big questions is ?Where will we stop?? We may start by just experimenting and studying, but then what? Manufacturing human bodies for spare parts? No one can be sure where it will stop.
The Supreme court says that everyone has the right to make their own reproductive decisions without government interference, but now it is proposing bans on human cloning. These bans prevent the very research needed to make cloning safe (Eibert). So, it seems that the government is not giving human cloning a chance.
There are many benefits to cloning in the fields of fertility, organ transplants, and fighting disease. Although there are many benefits, the possible effects and moral considerations are too great for us to continue experimentation.
One of the major benefits of cloning technology is improvement in the field of fertility. In vitro fertilization only has a success rate of about 10%. To improve effectiveness, doctors could clone embryos, and the success rate could drastically increase (Masci 413). Another benefit in the field of fertility is that parents unable to conceive naturally, even with in vitro, or people too old to conceive, could still have a genetically related child (Masci 413-414). With cloning, egg and sperm would not be necessary for reproduction, because any body cell would work (Eibert). The resulting offspring would actually be a replica of one parent (Masci 413-414).
Other benefits to using cloning come in the field of fighting disease. When genes are not in use, they become dormant. In order for cloning to take place, all genes must be active. Discovering how genes are turned on and off could lead to treatment for different cancers (Masci 414).
Cloning could also revolutionize the field of organ transplant. Organs and bone marrow could be cloned and used for transplant. Thousands of people die waiting for transplants, so this could save many lives. In addition, the organs used in the transplant could come from the same patient, reducing the risk of rejection by the body (Masci 414).
To treat heart attack victims, doctors could clone healthy heart cells and inject them into damaged areas of the heart (Masci 415). Nerves and spinal cord could be grown, giving quadriplegics the ability to walk again (Human Cloning Foundation). One more benefit, according to Dr. Richard Seed, a leader in the push for human cloning, is that scientists may someday be able to reverse the aging process.
There are also many reasons not to clone. One argument is that it is not necessary for bone marrow transplant because bone marrow can already be harvested and grown in a dish (Masci 415). One drawback is the possibility of mutation. An abnormal baby could result from mutated genes (Global Change.com). Another drawback is the possibility of emotional problems. A clone could have a hard time establishing his or her identity (Global Change.com). Karen Rothenberg of the University of Maryland School of Law at Baltimore says that ?While I feel unique if I have a twin sister, I do not if I have fifty or one hundred. I no longer understand myself as a creation, but as a copy? (Masci 413). Rothenberg goes on to say that cloning would challenge ?concepts basic to our humanness.? She says that cloning would eliminate our need for reproduction (Masci 414), which, in a sense, makes us less human.
One religious argument against cloning is the thought of ?Playing God.? Munawar Ahmad Anees, an Islamic scholar, says that ?The human body is God?s property, not man?s laboratory? (Masci 414-415). By this he means that we should not be experimenting with our bodies the way we do. He says that the body should only be reproduced by sexual reproduction (Masci 414-415).
There are many conflicting opinions on the subject of cloning. Opponents of cloning say that it is not natural, while the supporters point out that neither is driving a computer, flying an airplane, or using a computer. Many of our modern conveniences are not natural, but that does not necessarily make them wrong. Opponents also say that a clone would have no individuality, that it would be no more that a ?carbon copy.? Supporters argue that clones would have different personalities that were shaped by their environments and experiences (Dunn).
Despite the Advantages…
There are many advantages to continuing experimentation in the field of human cloning. Advances in fertility could offer hope to people who are too old to conceive or who are unable to do so with in vitro fertilization. If applied to organ transplant procedures, this new technology could save thousands of lives every year. Despite these advantages, the possible effects and moral considerations are too great for us to continue exploring this new science. The human race has made it this far without cloning, and we will continue to survive without it.
?Human Cloning.? 28 February 2000. *http://www. globalchange.com/clonetech.
?The Benefits of Human Cloning.? Human Cloning Foundation. 22 February 2000.