The Ethics of Human Cloning

The Ethics of Human Cloning


Table of contents:

1. Introduction
1.2. definition of cloning

2. Human dignity

3. Religious perspective

3.1. Christian views
3.2. Judaism views
3.3. Islam views

4. Medical issues

5. Counterarguments

6. Conclusion

Cloning may appear as a new technique to create human life, not destroy it, but it is scientifically dangerous and ethically abhorrent. In general, the definition of cloning is “the creation of a genetically identical copy of an existing, or previously existing human or growing cloned tissue from that individual. The term is generally used to refer to artificial human cloning; human clones in the form of identical twins are commonplace, with their cloning occurring during the natural process of reproduction”. However, in biology, “cloning a gene means to extract a gene from one organism, for example by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and insert it into a second organism (usually via a vector), where it can be used and studied” (Wikipedia, 2006). Human cloning can be used for two purposes: to create babies and saving lives, so called somatic cell nuclear transfer (more commonly called therapeutic cloning), or to produce stem cells, not babies, so called “reproductive” cloning.
The idea of cloning started in 1952, by Drs. Robert Briggs and Thomas King. They have developed the idea of animals cloning at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia. Experimentally, they were trying to produce frogs in order to get an identical copy from their parents. On July 5, 1996, the first cloned sheep was born in the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland by Ian Wilmut, named Dolly. Dolly was not the world’s first attempt at cloning, in indeed, Ian Wilmut did more than 277 attempts to create it. The birth of Dolly initiated the birth of the opportunity of another idea: the cloning of human beings.
From the discovery of DNA in the fifties and the cloning of Dolly in 1996, the issue of human cloning has been a major topic of discussion in the world. In addition, human cloning may create surge risks where many things can go wrong causing malfunction and diseases in the human body. Most of medical experts, philosophers and religious people think that human cloning should be banned because it is a violation against human dignity, an affront to religious people, and will create genetics diseases. The purpose of this research is to answer, should human cloning ever be permitted? Moreover, this research will go deeply into each one of significant issues of human cloning which I have mentioned before.


Human dignity.
The main argument against cloning touches the fact that people could be harmed either during experiments or after birth. As the researches of the public opinion show, most people find it morally unacceptable to clone people, about 56 % state that they won’t be able to eat the meat of cloned animals. Most of ethical considerations are connected with the potential risk for existing human beings and for potential human beings. The notions of individuality and identity could be as well put at risk. Many problems and questions connection with family life issues arise. One of the main questions is – whether human dignity is threatened. It is a controversial question whether the identical copying of genome attacks the human dignity. The counterargument here might be the matter of twins, somebody could state that twins are also at the risk of dignity threat, but this is not in reality absolutely the same thing, twins are born as two or more different human beings and their birth is absolutely natural phenomenon, whereas cloning is purely human interference into the natural processes. There is an opinion that a cloned copy will never be able to become a real individual that it will be under the influence of the genetic nature of the individual it was produced from. Thus this would be not a real person, but just a copy of someone else already existing. On the one hand this sounds more like a science fiction story, but on the other hand, as we are still not aware of many things connected with cloning and there is a long and through investigation to be made about it, the results might be different. Though some scientists nowadays underline that the clone will not be a copy, but a kind of a twin of the person. In this case these would be two different morally, biologically, psychologically people, but genetically identical beings. Again these are all only preconsumptions, in order to get the precise results a lot of experiments and investigations are to be made. Besides there are other ideas of possible results of cloning and its influence on human dignity; for example, it is as well possible that a child being an exact copy of his parent would be constantly compared to an adult and thus his future opportunities are likely to be restrained by these outer expectations. A simple example: if a child was cloned from a football player, he would probably get little chance to take up something different from football. The most sophisticated problem is connected with the child’s own interpretation of himself, what if he himself concentrates upon the idea that he is not an “original” person, but just a copy of somebody? How is he supposed to choose his way in life? It would be really difficult for the child to sustain his self-esteem and his individuality and his dignity. Taking into account all the above mentioned I came to the conclusion, that cloning would mostly harm the dignity of human beings.


Religious perspective.
Religion has been the part of our lives for many hundreds of years, and nowadays for most people it is an important sphere of their lives. It is clear that such issues as cloning, having so many moral dilemmas can not be left aside by any church.
Human cloning is a kind of playing God because it impedes with the natural order of creation. Christine, Islam, Judaism and other religions have a reasonable view based basically on their beliefs and holy books that human should not play and destroy God’s plan of human because he is the one who create us. Different religions have different believes toward cloning and within each faith there is diversity of opinion.
Not all religions see the process of cloning in the same light, but most of them suggest restricting or even banning of it. According to the Orthodox Christian Church cloning adds some “third party” to the birth of a child. It states that if a child is cloned than “it is not the product of love, but of scientific procedures” (Susan Cohen, (October 12, 1997)). It is hard for me not to agree with them, as this is in reality so, the ideal family is commonly considered to be a family where two loving people unite and give a birth to the third human being. In the case of cloning some scientists would probably gather in a laboratory and name the necessary combination of genes and that’s it. Will the child’s first cry sustain its importance for the parents in this case? Will it be a miracle of birth of just the process of genetic production? Christian church also questions about the soul of a child. They are concerned about another issue, if to mix the DNA of an animal with a DNA of a human being, this will be more than just “playing God”.
Thus Christianity is against cloning of human beings, some Christians said that they would not mind if cloning were used for some medical purposes, in order to cure some diseases and so on, but they can not morally accept the cloning of people. From the Christine perspective, all human beings have density because they are created in the image of God. Cloning violates this density in many ways. First of all, people created artificially in the image of exciting people instead of created in the image of God. Second, cloning produces children by treating them as manufactured goods of manipulation. Third cloning would also destroy Christian’s belief that the intrinsic dignity and value of human lives means that the value of each human life is identical.
Now we will turn to the Judaism’s views of cloning. In the year 1978 the official committee of Reform Rabbis wrote an essay concerning the matter of the soul in clones. The main conclusion however was that clones would have a soul. Although a clone would possess the identical genes as some other person, it would at any rate have its rights and responsibilities. The arguments about families who can not have children, but who would have the opportunity of having their genetically own child without interference of genes of other people or the arguments connected with treating diseases with the help of cloning are certainly very important for Jews. We know that it is allowed to break any Jewish law in order to save a life of a person. Thus even if we assume that cloning could be forbidden it would be still allowed in medical purposes in order to save the life of an ill person. For Judaism brining a Jewish child into the world is always considered only positively, no matter which way was used for the process. However, “Rabbis have sanctioned artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and even the use of donated eggs and sperm, in many cases… all those methods call for the creation of an entirely unique human being, using the genetic material of one male parent and one female parent” (Rabbi Michael J. Broyde (1997)).
The last religious view we are going to look upon in this paper is Islamic view. Because of “the absence of a central institution resembling the pope or the Vatican, juridical-ethical opinions in the matters of the Shari’a, the religious law of Muslims, tend to suggest plurality based on independent research and interpretation of legal scholars in the community” (Rabbi Michael J. Broyde (1997)). Muslim religion came to some certain conclusions concerning the issue of cloning. First of all they consider human creation to be a part of sacred will that helps the embryo to develop into a human being. Secondly, they believe that perceivable life could be only possible at some later stages of biological development, to this the God says: “thereafter We produced him as another creature.” And at last there should be division between biological and moral person.
The main debates in Islam concerning cloning is connected with the ways how it will influence the relations between humans. They are concerned about the social role of parenting as well and the problems of interpersonal relations, which are actually considered to be the basis for human religious life in Islam. Thus human cloning is completely prohibited in Islam religion.


Medical view.
The arguments connected with issue of cloning for medical purposes would be probably appropriate for supporters of cloning as here they can find many reasons for cloning of people. The main ones they are talking about are the possibility of producing organs for transplantation and wonderful chance for couples that are not able to have their own children to have a child with the DNA of one of the parents. These are strong arguments without any doubts, but first of all we know too little about genetics in general in order to surely use it for ill people and these are only positive preconsumptions and secondly it is still not clear till the end what kind of influence the cloning would have on the child himself, whether he would be able to become adequate member of society.
There are some other cases where cloning could be applied for medical purposes. For example for cloning animal models of diseases. Usually the researches learn about diseases from studying animal models, mostly mice. Animals have to be genetically engineered sometimes in order to see the disease – causing mutations. In this case cloning could reduce the time of making these transgenic models and help to produce the genetically identical animal models for researches.
Thus we come to the conclusion that theoretically cloning could bring a lot of positive results and could be of a great help for medicine, but, in case it is studied carefully and the questions like: What are the guarantees that the cloned child will be healthy and absolutely normal? What could go wrong and how to avoid all risks? And so on are answered. At this very moment is seems not sensible to experiment with children or spare organs for ill people.


Counterarguments.
Concerning the reasons for cloning there were separated the several main arguments. Some of them like cloning spare organs and cloning children for mother who are not able to bear them were already mentioned in the paper. There is also an idea to replace a child, who was lost due to a disease or some kind of accident. On the whole it sounds a good idea but on the other hand, parents have suffered a loss at any rate and it is not possible to forget it, and we never know whether they would be morally ready to accept a clone of their child, being aware that “the original” is lost forever.
The next argument is the possibility to duplicate talented and gifted people. It is really hard to imagine the copies of famous people, who were unique individuals, and here again no guarantee that their clones would be able to make great inventions or discoveries, as they would be simply the copies of some human beings, probably they will not be able to go further in their development and thus their creation would turn out to be useless.
There is even an argument that clones should be created at least as a pure experiment, but here we should take into consideration all the dangers and possible harms to people in case of creation of such clones.

Conclusion.
Overall, the issue of cloning is a rather versatile and sophisticated problem. As it has a rather long history, cloning has gained a lot of supporters and a lot of opponents, whose statements are based on a great number of different reasons. It is certainly hard to argue that cloning could play an important role in the development of genetics and could be of a great help for medical usage, but on the other hand this matter confronts a lot by vital moral and psychological issues, which just can not be left aside, as cloning can be viewed as violation of human dignity or religious rules and beliefs, it can lead to development of genetic diseases or other kind of problems. Thus at this very moment of its development cloning should be maximally restricted and cloning of people should be so far prohibited, at least for some period of time till this process is not studied enough.

Sources:
1. Rabbi Michael J. Broyde (1997),Cloning People and Jewish Law: A Preliminary Analysis. 48-356

2. Patrick Stephens, “Cloning: Towards a new conception of humanity,” The Reproductive Cloning Network, at: http://www.reproductivecloning.net/
3. Campbell, K.H.S., Loi, P., Otaegui, P.J. and Wilmut, I. (1996). Cell cycle co-ordination in embryo-cloning by nuclear transfer. Rev. Reprod. 1: 40-45.

4. Rick Weiss, (October 12, 1997) “Genetic Enhancements’ Thorny Ethical Traits,” Washington Post

5. Wakayama, T., Perry, A.C.F, Zuccotti, M., Johnson, K.R. and Yanagimacchi, R. (1998). Full-term development of mice from enucleated oocytes injected with cumulus cell nuclei. Nature 394: 369-374.

6. Wilmut, I., Schnieke, A.E., McWhir, J., Kind, A.J. and Campbell, K.H.S. 1997. Viable offspring derived from fetal and adult mammalian cells. Nature 385: 810-813.
7. Daniel Reilly, “Statement on human cloning,” The Diocese of Worcester, (Roman Catholic), 2001-NOV-26, at: http://www.worcesterdiocese.org/
8. Susan Cohen, (October 12, 1997) “What is a Baby? Inside America’s Unresolved Debate about the Ethics of Cloning,” Washington Post Magazine

9. R. C. Lewontin, (October 23, 1997)”The Confusion over Cloning,” New York Review of Books

10. Dr. R. Jirtle and Dr. K. Killian (2003), Humans may be easier to clone , NY. 96-333