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It Is Possible to Clone Mammals. Is It Morally Acceptable to Clone a Human Being?

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It is possible to clone mammals. Is it morally acceptable to clone a human being?

Defend your answer against those who would not agree with you.

By: Martin Pierce Student Number: 1057404

In cloning for medical-research purposes the development of the embryo is halted as soon as a cluster of stem cells develops. The stem cells are then harvested for research purposes. Due to the fact that no infant is born (in fact the embryo never even gets past the blastocyst stage), it is argued that this type of cloning has nothing to do with human cloning. (Hatch Backs Limited Cloning, 2002). For this reason this paper shall take the statement “to clone a human being” as meaning cloning that results in a fully formed human and not on the cloning of embryos for the purposes of research.
The issues around cloning are in the main more ethical than theological and yet most of the objections to cloning come from religious sources, even if those objections are not religious in nature. The first objection is that cloning leaves God out of the process of human creation. This only makes sense though if your definition of God is of a being that plays a role in the birth of each member of our species. Even holding to this view it does not necessarily follow that cloning is comparable to playing God (Brannigan, 2001). How can science prevent a supposedly omnipotent and omnipresent being from doing anything, and if it is possible this raises serious questions about God’s divinity and even our own. The second objection is that we are creating an infant independent of human sexual congress and thereby making impossible the divine inculcation of a soul. In vitro fertilisation is equivalent to cloning here as both involve conception of one form or another outside of the body without the need for sexual congress (Brannigan, 2001). Originally ethically suspect, in vitro fertilisation is today generally accepted in all circles including religious ones. It is therefore hard to imagine that God can endow the infant of in vitro fertilisation with a soul and not the infant that arises from cloning. In fact

“Some who consider themselves to be religious have argued that if God didn't want man to clone, "he" wouldn't have made it possible” (Brannigan, 2001, p. 105).

The question we need to ask those who object to cloning on religious grounds is that

“…they explain what it is about sexual fertilisation that so affects God's judgment about the child that results” (Kass & Wilson, 1998, p. 73).

A more sociologically relevant reason for opposition to these religious objections is that in a diverse society consisting of groups with different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds how can we allow restrictive religious points of view to define public policy (Brannigan, 2001).
The following scenario is one described by most people. That an almost infinite army of clones based upon a highly desired genetic code could be created and that all of these clones would be the same person as the original. Imagine a thousand clones of Einstein. Some of the moral questions raised in this scenario would be: are we diminishing the worth of a human life by making hundreds of copies, would we begin to see the clones as dispensable, as a commodity, would this violate or diminish their dignity? If this were the case then the answer to all of these questions would probably be yes. This however is not the case. This is a popular misconception. Cloning is not Xeroxing; a clone will not develop to be a carbon copy of the donor of its genetic material. For example the clone of Sigmund Freud, even though an exact genetic copy would still enter the world as a blank slate just like any other human infant and not as the reincarnation of the father of psychoanalysis.

"…real human clones will simply be later-born identical twins--nothing more and nothing less." Cloned children will be full-fledged human beings, indistinguishable in biological terms from all other members of the species. (Brannigan, 2001, p. 102).

This is essentially a question of determinism. Does our genetic profile determine who and what we are and how we act? In the case of traditionally conceived identical twins we can see that this is not so. Even though they share the same genetic material they are obviously not the same person. Neither does this violate or diminish their dignity. This deterministic approach denies the individual any freedom to define themselves for themselves and it ignores the role of environmental factors on personal development (Shannon, 1999). A further argument to cloning focuses on the violation to human dignity from the actual process of cloning itself. However most of these same arguments where raised and addressed when the process of in vitro fertilisation was still new. The two main points are that not being conceived in the normal fashion and not having two biological parents somehow diminishes the dignity of the individual. Precisely how dignity is compromised by the process of cloning remains something of a mystery (Shannon, 1999).
There are many possible uses of cloning technology in relation to the cloning of a fully formed individual. These include a) providing a remedy for infertility and substitute for adoption b) the replacing of a family member who has died c) by choosing the genetic makeup of an individual you can avoid genetic disease d) it would be another form of reproduction for homosexual people who want no sexual contact with the opposite sex e) creating a store of genetically identical organs or tissues suitable for transplantation f) replicating individuals of great genius or talent and g) creating large sets of genetically identical humans suitable for research (Kass & Wilson, 1998) Of all these possible uses most have been answered in the first part of this essay. There are only two left to be worked through and they are that a) cloning could be a viable option as a fertility treatment or as a substitute for adoption to people who cannot have children for whatever reason, and that e) cloning could result in individuals being born for the sole purpose of creating a store of genetically identical organs for transplantation. In answer to the organ bank scenario it is quite possible for us to imagine scientists' cloning children to harvest organs and body parts and this would definitely seem to be immoral, to lower the value of a human life, to lower human dignity and treat at least some humans as a commodity to be bought and sold, as a means to an end rather than as an end in themselves (Kass & Wilson, 1998). Perhaps we can go a long way towards preventing this abuse of cloning by regulations limiting the reasons for its use and who it can be used for. If cloning were to be allowed only for those whose desire is to have a child for its own sake would that type of parental constraint not go a long way towards preventing the cloning of humans as organ banks (Kass & Wilson). At the moment clones still have to be born they cannot be created and brought to term in a laboratory. If a child is born to a parent or parents immaterial of how that child was actually conceived have we not seen from studies of adoption, surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation that the parent or parents of these children become as deeply attached to their children as any others? It is possible that this could become a problem in the future. If science finds a way to clone human beings completely in a laboratory then getting a clone from a lab could become like getting a pet from the pet store. Without a birth would people’s attitude towards the cloned infant as a human being with the same rights and privileges as everyone else be diminished (Kass & Wilson, 1998). This is by no means certain and is a case of putting the cart before the horse.
There are three main arguments made against the cloning of human for the purposes reproduction. The first problem is that cloning will result in causing actual physical harm to the child (Cantrell, 1998). This objection on the basis of safety begins with the argument that cloning has not been proved to be a safe procedure and could result in children being born with extensive deformities and others types of birth defects (Brannigan, 2001). This fear is somewhat rooted in the realm of the media. With the first successful cloning of a mammal in Scotland, that of Dolly the sheep, the media went into a frenzy of concocting all sorts of macabre fantasies based upon their own limited understanding of exactly what had been done. They gave the impression either directly or indirectly of dozens of deformed monster lambs paving the way for the birth of Dolly. In reality of

“…the 277 fused cells created by Wilmut and his colleagues, only 29 developed into embryos. These 29 embryos were placed into 13 ewes, of which 1 became pregnant and gave birth to Dolly. If safety is measured by the percentage of lambs born in good health, then the record, so far, is 100% for nuclear transplantation from an adult cell (albeit with a sample size of 1)” (Brannigan, 2001, p. 103).

There is no scientific foundation for the idea that cloned children are more prone to genetic problems.

“The commonest type of birth defect results from the presence of an abnormal number of chromosomes in the fertilized egg. This birth defect arises during gamete production and, as such, its frequency should be greatly reduced in embryos formed by cloning. The second most common class of birth defects results from the inheritance of two mutant copies of a gene from two parents who are silent carriers. With cloning, any silent mutation in a donor will be silent in the newly formed embryo and child as well. Finally, much less frequently, birth defects can be caused by new mutations; these will occur with the same frequency in embryos derived through conception or cloning” (Brannigan, 2001, p. 103).

From this we can see that the opposite of what is feared may actually be the case. Based on our current scientific understanding of cloning it would appear that birth defects in cloned children would be less frequent than in naturally conceived children (Brannigan, 2001).
The second problem is that cloning will cause psychological harm to the cloned child (Cantrell, 1998). Some of these problems such as individual dignity and the right to a unique identity have been covered earlier in this paper under the topic of determinism using the example of identical twins (Brannigan, 2001). It could be argued that a cloned child is harmed by future knowledge. Knowing what you will look like as an adult or knowing what medical problems you will have. Is this really harm, most children have some idea what they will look like when they get older based on how their parents look and with modern advances in genetic screening we can all learn of the medical problems we are predisposed to (Brannigan, 2001). As for the idea of cloned children being harmed by having to live up to unrealistic expectations placed on them by their parents this is present in society already. There are many parents of naturally conceived children that place unrealistic demands upon them, who see their children as a way of working out things that went wrong in their lives. Should we screen all prospective parents for these tendencies and prohibit any we find from having children? (Brannigan, 2001).
The third problem is that cloning will cause harm to shared social understandings and values and will thus have a detrimental effect on society as a whole and on the human species as a whole (Cantrell, 1998; Brannigan, 2001). The main argument here is cloning will somehow restrict evolution, that the replication of exact genetic copies in cloning rather than the unfettered combination of genetic material in a natural conception will bring a halt to evolution. An additional problem with cloning is that

“…the survival of a species depends on two forces environmental change that rewards some creatures and penalizes others and sufficient diversity among the species that, no matter what the environment, some members of the species will benefit” (Kass & Wilson, p. 68-69).

Cloning allows for the maximising of valued traits. While making sense to parents this could be bad for the species. Traits desirable today may be undesirable or harmful in the future and the opposite also applies (Kass & Wilson). Both of these could be a problem if everyone was reproducing by cloning and there where no natural conceptions, however even if human cloning became accepted and popular it would still realistically only account for a fraction of a percent of all the children born onto this earth (Brannigan, 2001).

In answer to the question, Is it morally acceptable to clone a human being? The answer would appear to be yes, it is morally acceptable. Cloning as a process causes no harm physically, spiritually or morally to the individual clone, other people and society or to the species as a whole. What is not morally acceptable are some of the uses cloning technology can be put too or the human rights violations that could be committed against clones. The central question facing those who approach cloning with an open mind then becomes how do we prevent these violations from occurring? Provided rules and regulations are put into place regarding the reasons for cloning and how the cloned are to be treated it is arguable that the gains from cloning will exceed the risks. The question then becomes what those rules and regulations should be, who should decide and who should enforce them. Arthur Caplan the director of the University of Pennsylvania's Centre for Biomedical Ethics gives four preliminary human cloning guidelines:

"One, make sure cloning is competently done. It requires tremendous skill. We must avoid deformity and death. Two, insist on follow-ups so the clone's physical and mental health can be studied. Three, insist that cloning is done in privacy - there is nothing worse than becoming an international oddity. And four, screen those who want it done. Having money isn't a good enough reason to be cloned - if it were we would sell babies" (Gribbin, 1998, p. 1).

References

Brannigan, M. C. (Ed.). (2001). Ethical Issues in Human Cloning Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. New York: Seven Bridges Press.

Cantrell, M. K. (1998). International Response to Dolly: Will Scientific Freedom Get Sheared?. Journal of Law and Health, 13(1), 69.

Gribbin, A. (1998, November 9). Human Cloning Draws Nearer as Ethicists Seek to Draw Rules: With Bans Ineffectual, Market for Babies Drives Research. The Washington Times, p. 1. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Hatch Backs Limited Cloning Research; Bipartisan Bill Would Outlaw Creating Infants. (2002, May 1). The Washington Times, p. A04. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Kass, L. R., & Wilson, J. Q. (1998). The Ethics of Human Cloning. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.

Shannon, T. A. (1999). Ethical Issues in Genetics. Theological Studies, 60(1), 111.

Bibliography

Berkowitz, P. (2002). The Pathos of the Kass Report. 71+. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Brannigan, M. C. (Ed.). (2001). Ethical Issues in Human Cloning Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives. New York: Seven Bridges Press.

Cantrell, M. K. (1998). International Response to Dolly: Will Scientific Freedom Get Sheared?. Journal of Law and Health, 13(1), 69.

Crysdale, C. S. (2002, Fall). Crossing Boundaries: Virtue or Vice for the Twenty-First Century?. Cross Currents, 52, 385+.

Gribbin, A. (1998, November 9). Human Cloning Draws Nearer as Ethicists Seek to Draw Rules: With Bans Ineffectual, Market for Babies Drives Research. The Washington Times, p. 1. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Hatch Backs Limited Cloning Research; Bipartisan Bill Would Outlaw Creating Infants. (2002, May 1). The Washington Times, p. A04. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Kass, L. R., & Wilson, J. Q. (1998). The Ethics of Human Cloning. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.

Motavalli, J., & Rembert, T. C. (1997, July/August). Me and My Shadow: The Prospect of Human Cloning Raises Environmental and Ethical Issues. E, 8, 15+.

Newman, L. (2000). Ethical Leadership or Leadership in Ethics?. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 25(1), 40.

Pellegrino, E. D. (2002). The Physician's Conscience, Conscience Clauses, and Religious Belief: A Catholic Perspective. Fordham Urban Law Journal, 30(1), 221+.

Price, J. (1997, March 6). NIH Chief Warns against Measure Banning Cloning: Doctor Cites Possible Ethical Uses. The Washington Times, p. 7. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from Questia database, http://www.questia.com.

Shannon, T. A. (1999). Ethical Issues in Genetics. Theological Studies, 60(1), 111.

To Clone or Not to Clone?. (1997, March 19). The Christian Century, 114, 286+.

Why Not Human Clones?. (2001, February 21). The Christian Century, 118, 5.

Wilmut, I. (1998, September/October). The Ethics of Cloning. The American Enterprise, 9, 57+.…...

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...Mirroring the World: The Aspects of Human Cloning Mirroring the World: The Aspects of Human Cloning Looking into a mirror presents an image that is strikingly similar to your own, but what if this image could come to life. Through extensive research, scientists have discovered a way to create life through a process called cloning. Cloning can simply be described by making an exact copy of an object. No one would have ever thought science could reach a level in history where you can actually make an exact duplicate of any organism. With such a large hype over this new discovery, there have many opposing arguments that carried along through the years with the research. Growing circulations have revolved around this issue creating a question asking, “Has Genetic Engineering gone too far?” Trial and error is the key concept in cloning, which follows suit through its complicated process, complications, and alternatives that will together to give us a sneak preview of the future ahead of us. A Step into the Process Cloning can be done in a few methods to create new life. The most common type of cloning is known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer.” In English, the method is basically saying that someone takes the DNA from the clone and DNA from the unfertilized egg and fuses the cells together to create the exact copy. This is one way to create a clone; the other involves the egg of the female species being copied. The scientist then extracts the donor’s genes......

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Premium Essay

Human Clonning

...Nathan Johnson Persuasive Essay Human Cloning Cloning humans has recently become a possibility that seems much more realistic in today's society than it was twenty years ago. It is a method that involves the production of a group of identical cells or organisms that all derive from a single individual (Grolier 220). It is not known when or how cloning humans really became a possibility, but it is known that there are two possible ways that we can clone humans. The first way involves splitting an embryo into several halves and creating many new individuals from that embryo. The second method of cloning a human involves taking cells from an already existing human being and cloning them, in turn creating other individuals that are identical to that particular person. With these two methods almost at our fingertips, we must ask ourselves two very important questions: Can we do this, and should we? There is no doubt that many problems involving the technological and ethical sides of this issue will arise and will be virtually impossible to avoid, but the overall idea of cloning humans is one that we should accept as a possible reality for the future. Cloning humans is an idea that has always been thought of as something that could be found in science fiction novels, but never as a concept that society could actually experience. "It is much in the news. The public has been bombarded with newspaper articles, magazine stories, books, television shows, and movies as well as......

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Clone

...Preventing Brave New World”, an article opposing the continuation of cloning, is wrong to conclude that with the use of human cloning, we will fall down a slippery slope leading to the degradation of our human nature, putting ourselves before our children, bettering our children for the wrong reasons, and ultimately demeaning our own moral worth (Kass, 445). Through the scientific advances that we have made throughout the years, we have made the lives of many people longer and more fulfilling. The advances that Kass is arguing against, has given people children, prolonged the lives of many, and given people the opportunity to do things that they may not be able to do anymore. If there are all of these positive outcomes, how can Kass argue what he does? Before I begin, I feel it necessary to clear up a misunderstood word that may be the reason why people view certain aspects of cloning the way that they do. I will give this particular word a complete unbias by using a scientific definition instead of using my own words. The term that a person should know to truly understand the perspectives being compared is the word: Embryo. According to The Encyclopedia Britannica, an embryo is, “the unborn child until the end of the seventh week following conception; from the eighth week the unborn child is called a fetus”(Encyclopedia Britannica; “embryo.”). The embryos that are being used for cloning are only during the first stage of cell division, and during this stage the embryos......

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