It’s been three years since the birth of Dolly, the world’s first successfully cloned animal. The announcement of her birth brought about much ado and sparked many debates concerning the morality of cloning. In the three years since Dolly was created, the debate over cloning has swelled and receded, but has never been put to rest. A compelling issue that has come into focus in the past several years is the idea of human cloning. Many scientists believe that it is inevitable because the technology is there, and anything that can be done eventually will be done. They preach the value of human clones, dropping phrases like ‘cure for disease’ and ‘prolonged life’ to entice the public into supporting their cause. Though these concepts seem beguiling, the notion of human cloning, when looked at as a whole, has serious repercussions and should not be entertained lightly.
From a strictly scientific point of view, we are just not ready to attempt the cloning of a human being. Our scientific knowledge of cloning has been compared to Mr. Ford’s knowledge of the automobile just after the introduction of the Model A. The dangers of producing human clones with disabilities and disfigurements are high because of our low level of understanding of cloning and of human genetics in general. Even if the probabilities of disfigurement were low, human cloning could not be justified. What rationalization could be given to a child who would spend the rest of his life in horrible disfigurement? Even one person forced to spend his life in pain should be reason enough to avoid human cloning.
An area that has apparently been overlooked by the scientific community in their race for the gold is world population. This is an issue that they have been screaming over for years, and yet scientists are looking the other way where the issue of cloning is involved. Many countries are overflowing with people, and the United States, among others, becomes the nurturing nipple from which these distressed countries suck the much-needed funds to support their starving citizens. China has for years placed a one child per couple rule on its populace, and there are many out there who think it is a good practice. At present, there are nearly 5.4 billion people on this planet. With all of the uproar concerning over-population, why make more?
Of course, from a less technical standpoint, the issues with human cloning are endless. The most chilling of all is the idea that cloning humans can save lives. Though on the surface this seems to be a bright spot in the sea of darkness that surrounds the human cloning issue, in reality it could be the darkest point of all. The reason being that cloning in order to save lives gives rise to visions of human farms where people will be made and used for parts, or research. Though there may be legitimate instances of organs cloned, the most obvious and easy way to ensure longevity would be to clone your self for spare parts. Black market operations would surely ensue, and add yet another dimension to the already versatile world of crime that our society must endure. If the practices were made illegal, it would merely add to our already overflowing court system.
This brings about another point rarely discussed by either side of the cloning issue: the clones. Has anyone bothered to think of these poor individuals? We can’t even get together as a society and accept the humans we already have. It seems incredibly brazen of us to assume that we could accept these new additions to society as equal. It could be a horrible stigma carried like a dark secret throughout the clone’s life. The effects would be devastating. Why would we want to put someone through that just to satisfy our own narcissistic goals?
Finally there is the one thing that most people opposed to cloning agree on; our intuition says “NO”. This may seem like an unfounded reason to argue for the banning of human cloning, however when inspected more closely, the idea can be supported. The reason that the idea of cloning creates such a disturbance within us is that at a very deep level, cloning challenges the theory of what it means to be a human being. The concept of manufacturing humans assumes that we are little more than the sum of our genetic parts. If it were possible to make carbon copies of humans, perhaps even limitless copies, how would we continue to uphold the idea that humans are individual and therefore deserve absolute respect? What thread would we rely on as a society to tie us together?
Cloned human beings already exist in nature in the form of identical twins. Though the individuals share the same genetic makeup, they are still just that: individuals. The genetic map that our bodies follow is there merely to lay the groundwork. It is life, and life’s experiences that make us human. Therefore, it stands to reason that science should not set out to do something that nature has already accomplished so well.