Ethical issues concerning cloning
Although cloning has been successful to a certain extent, there have also been a high percentage of failures which has raised some ethical issues.
I was in a dilemma whether to choose teen pregnancy or cloning. When I did some research for these 2 topics, I realized cloning has been around for decades and I thought it was only quite recent. My misunderstanding led me to further research on the topic. However, I was also researching on teen pregnancy as it is quite common these days. There are cases of teen pregnancy in the newspapers. It is shocking to see cases with pregnant girls as young as nine-years old.
There are human cloning and animal cloning. Some pets are also cloned. It is quite surprising that people would want to clone their pets as it is very costly. Human cloning has caused a debate. Certain religions such as Protestants, Catholics, Buddhism and Islam think that cloning a human is like being God. They do not think it is right. Also, there are many risks involved. On the contrary, there are some who thinks that it is people’s own decision. It is like your freedom rights. You can make the decision.
After much deliberation, I decided cloning is much more interesting. I am sure not many people know a lot about cloning. Teen pregnancy is a common topic, one that you have heard many times. Therefore, ultimately, I chose the topic cloning.
Cloning describes the processes used to create an exact genetic replica of another cell, tissue or organism. The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original, is referred to as a clone. There are three different types of cloning: Gene cloning, Reproductive cloning and Therapeutic cloning.
Gene cloning creates copies of genes or segments of DNA. It can identify genetic abnormalities. Reproductive cloning creates copies of whole animals. Therapeutic cloning creates embryonic stem cells. It is for medical use. Researchers hope to use these cells to grow healthy tissue to replace injured or diseased tissues in the human body. (National Human Genome Research Institute viewed 31 July 2010) The purpose of reproductive cloning is for research. It uses a method called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). It can repopulate endangered species or make breeding of certain animals less difficult and can produce creatures with particular traits, such as genetically "special" animals. (Therapeutic cloning vs. reproductive cloning, viewed 31 August 2010)
In 1996, scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland have successfully cloned a sheep, named Dolly. However, Dolly was produced only after 276 attempts. The success rate ranges from 0.1 percent to 3 percent, which means that for every 1000 tries, only 1 to 30 clones are made. (What are the risks of cloning, viewed 7 August 2010)
Cloning has its disadvantages and advantages. Some advantages are solution to infertility; provide treatments for variety of diseases and genetic modification. Some disadvantages are the uncertainty of science technology, the great diseases and leading to extinction. There are also ethical issues such as unnatural acts, changing the diversity of society and risks of abuse and exploitations.
Although cloning has been successful to a certain extent, there have also been a high percentage of failures which has raised some ethical issues.
1. Advantages of cloning
1.0 Provide organs for transplantation
If it is possible to clone the essential organs or body parts of the human body, then they may be able to operate as support systems. The cloned body parts can act as human beings lifesaver. For example, when a kidney or any other organ fail to act properly, it may be possible to use the newly cloned organ and take out the spoiled organ. Cloning can make new organs required for organ transplants. It offers hope to people needing organ transplants since people requiring them often have to wait for years for an appropriate donor. There are many cases whereby patients die waiting because of the numerous people requiring organs. (Human cloning viewed 31 July 2010)
Also, patients with an implanted organ must take loads of medicine that can cause side effects everyday as long as they live. This is to guarantee that their body does not reject the implanted organ. These side effects can decrease their life quality. Anyone can clone his or her own organs. The cloned organ would be produced from the body cell of the person who needs the transplant. This will reduce the high risk of the body rejecting the cloned organ since it has the same genetic code. This will be harmless and directly help the patients. Cloning can get rid of this problem by creating more animals who can be suitable donors. There are successful cases of pig livers being transplanted to humans as a temporary measure while waiting for a human liver. In addition, a burn victim can be helped by growing skin using his or her own skin cells and cloning them. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
1.1 Solution to infertility
Approximately 15% of Americans are infertile. Most of the time, doctors are unable to help them. Federal statistics reveal that in-vitro fertilization and other related technologies have a success rate of less than 20%. These technologies cannot help many couples. Couples are having a hard time trying to have children and they must go through painful procedures. In addition, they are also expensive and take up a lot of time. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
Due to the ethical issues of cloning, some states have prohibited human cloning. However, couples struggling to have children are now beginning to mull over the promises that cloning presents. The current infertility treatments are not improving as many people think that infertility is not a medical problem. Thus, cloning can be the answer to infertility. Doctors can implant the cloned embryos into the bodies of infertile women. Hence, these women can have their own babies and it can remove the mental and physical pains of many infertile couples. (The advantages of cloning viewed 31 July 2010)
1.2 Increasing populations of endangered species
Cloning can help to increase the populations of species who are in danger of extinction. It may be even possible to reverse the extinctions that by now would have occurred. Even though conservationists worldwide are doing their best already, there are still some species that are near to extinction. To save the scarce species, conservations have used captive propagation programs. There is a need for further propagation programs due to limitations such as constrained physical space for animals, problems with animal husbandry, and common reproductive failure of the animals. (CLONING: Bringing Back Endangered Species viewed 7 August 2010)
A majority of ethicists who disagree strongly with human cloning spots no trouble in using this method to save endangered species. Since 1973, the bucardo was listed as an endangered species. However, officials were unable to stop the poaching and the total destruction of their habitats that finally led to the bucardo's extinction. In another case, there are a few remaining Chinese panda which will most probably be cloned. (CLONING: Bringing Back Endangered Species viewed 7 August 2010)
1.3 Genetic engineering
It is achievable to produce a particular characteristic in humans. Parents have the chance to select the traits that they want present in their child. For example, they want their child to be as smart as Albert Einstein. This makes it possible to produce people with certain merits, particular pleasing personality, thus humans become a man-made being. Some scientists believe that cloning is good as humans can be in charge of their evolvement so the world can produce more artists, athletes and scientists. Cloning can bring back people's dead ancestors to life. For example, if you want to produce your great-grandmother, you only need to preserve some samples of her body cells. It is that simple. (Human cloning viewed 31 July 2010)
1.4 Provide treatments for different diseases
Cloning of stem cells can provide treatments for different diseases. With the proper prompts, stem cells are able to change into other cell types. Hence, it is possible for doctors to replace the tissues and injured organs to reinstate healthy function. Therapeutic applications of stem cells potentially could treat illnesses including: Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, heart attack, multiple sclerosis, blood, bone and bone marrow ailments, severe burns by providing skin grafts, spinal cord injuries, and cancer patients who have lost cells and tissue to radiation and chemotherapy. (The advantages of cloning 31 July 2010) Cloning can cure terminal diseases. Patients may be cured if doctors try to develop a helpful gene therapy.
1.5 Research purposes
Scientists are able to take modified organisms and utilize them for the health benefits of society. Duplicating animals by cloning can be used for research purposes. This can help researchers in genetics as they may understand more on the arrangement of genes and the effects of hereditary constituents on human characteristics. They can simplify their study of genes since they can change the genetic components in the human being who is cloned. (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pros-and-cons-of-cloning.html)
It is crucial to research on cloning so that well-matched tissues and organs can be created for the patients who are being treated with stem cell therapy. Stem cells must be obtained from embryos created by a patient’s own cells. This will not allow any rejection problems related to organ and tissue transplants. This would require research cloning. If research cloning is restricted, therapies helpful to millions of people could be delayed. Delays cannot be allowed in the progress of techniques that could save many lives or put a stop to suffering. It is intolerable to restrict and form of medical research in a free society. People have their rights to practice any scientific investigation, especially medical investigation. Our lives have already been enhanced immeasurably by medical technology. Therefore, we ought to maintain continuous improvement. (Research Cloning Arguments Pro and Con viewed 10 August 2010)
1.6 The healthiness of infants
Cloning can abolish the worries concerning the health of a child. Scientists can modify the genes to guarantee a healthy child. For example, if a mother has given birth to a child who suffers from Down's syndrome. Doctors will be able to control and balance out the number of chromosomes in the embryo so that the child may be normal and healthy. (The advantages of cloning viewed 31 July 2010) This will ensure that the child will grow up with no disorders and will be a normal child.
1.7 Improving food supply
In the agricultural business, people can improve the quality and quantity of beef by simply cloning the farm animals with desired characteristics. Diseases like foot and mouth disease could be eliminated. Cloning can also cultivate crops that are tougher and more resilient to diseases. Therefore, cloning may successfully resolve the world's food problem and lessen or if possible, eliminate starvation. (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning, viewed 7 August 2010)
1.8 Reverse the aging process
Cloning can reverse the effects of aging and our aging process. The anti-aging market is already a multibillion industry. Every cloned body cell is a brand new cell. It is the precise replica of an existing cell. However, the difference is it is not as old as the model. A person could make his body younger by cloning his body cells and implanting these cells into his body when he is older. This method can allow humans to live up to any age they want. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
1.9 Cosmetic surgery
Cloning can help improve reconstructive and cosmetic surgery. Even until now, cosmetic surgery may be dangerous as the used equipments are unknown to the body. For example, silicone breast implants can cause immune disease. Doctors have the skill to construct bone, fat and connective tissue that can precisely match the patient's tissues. Therefore, if a person wants to change his or her appearance, there would be no risks involved. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
2. Disadvantages of cloning
2.0 Loosing the diversity of genes
Human beings need DNA variety for survivability in future particularly if there are unpredictable things. Cloning can drastically hinder that. This is because matching genes are created by cloning and it is procedure of duplicating the entire genetic constitution. Humans will be so alike in human cloning. They will have the same type of genes. The genetic characteristics of its ancestor will be passed on to the next human clone. This will include genetic abnormalities and diseases. (Pros and cons of cloning, viewed 31 July 2010) For example, some think that Dolly the sheep had signs of premature aging, but her "developers" confidently denied it.
There is a risk of the whole population getting infected by the similar kind of pathogen. Everyone cannot have the same type of genes and be close to one another otherwise they might not be able to protect themselves against the similar type of severe disease. People cannot foresee or guess when viruses or other harmful agents grow. So, the cloned species will not know how to respond to it. It will be a huge disaster if everyone gets affected. For example, all the rice in the world is cloned. Gradually, only one type of rice is produced but with more nutrition. Soon, the other types of rice are not produced anymore and its DNA variants cease to exist. Later in the future, the rice crop is hit by a disease and is totally wiped out. The world will be lack of rice. (What are the pros and cons of cloning? viewed 31 July 2010)
Parents have special sets of genes and this leads to the diversity of genes. Cloning can cause inbreeding as human cloning copy the matching genes. The diversity of genes will lessen. So everyone will have similar genotype and keep on procreating among themselves. Finally, it leads us to our own extinction. The differences that we see in people are the splendor of humanity and cloning will get rid of surprises since all look alike.(Disadvantages of cloning, viewed 31 July 2010)
2.2 Risk of abuse
If man is allowed to meddle with genetics in humans, then cloning can increase the probability of intentional reproduction of unattractive characteristics in humans if it is so preferred. This may cause open up likelihood of abuse in medical fraternity. Scientists might misuse the technology. If a couple is not happy with their clone, what is the next step they might choose? Some people say that clones can be grown in a farm-like approach just for harvesting organs or stem cells. We must not ignore the prospect of devaluing human life for life is precious. (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning, viewed 7 August 2010)
2.3 The uncertainty of science and technology
Science and technology cannot provide solutions for every problem. Not even the scientists can promise that they can solve everything. Behind every problem, there are clearly several possible crises. Naturally, these doubts are not practical to bring to a standstill all the developments of science and technology. There is no guarantee that if the human clone survives, it will develop normally. (Disadvantages of cloning, viewed 31 July 2010)
The incident of trying to clone new mammals indicates that most of the human clones would have genetically related diseases. If there was creation of embryos, majority of them would have critical deformity, several of which only will be evident late in pregnancy. Testing for genetic deformity would 'eradicate' a percentage of such deformities, but only at the expense of getting rid of the unborn baby itself. Out of the many babies born alive, many will have disabilities being inflicted on them negligently due to the methods used to create them. (Cloning and Stem Cell Research, viewed 10 August 2010)
2.4 The element of uncertainty
Dolly, the cloned sheep, was regarded as an achievement story. However, before Dolly was cloned, there were actually many embryos which were destroyed. The cloning process began with 277 eggs, of which only Dolly is the successful result. The field of cloning still needs to improve a lot apart from the success in other areas. For example, for infertile couples, if in-vitro fertilization failed, they may go through the similar distress. (The advantages and disadvantages of cloning, viewed 7 August 2010)
2.5 Potential costs
At the moment, reproducing animals by other ways are much cheaper than to clone. Although the failure rate of cloning is expected to reduce, it still remains high if cloning is taken on a wider scale in addition to the cost. There will be many disabled babies and many pregnant women who have suffered a lot to make cloning safe. Some people may be unwilling to eat the cloned meat. Hence, the value of the cloned animals will decrease. (What are the pros and cons of cloning? viewed 31July 2010)
2.6 Research cloning
Several studies have proposed that research cloning would not be an essential or attractive method to overwhelm immune rejection. Developing stem cells are shown to be less expected to encourage rejection following transplantation than other cell types. If this is verified to be true, beneficial tissues can be developed from obtainable embryonic stem cell lines rather than from the cell lines modified for an individual patient. Another current investigation suggests that by 'reprogramming' a few of the patient's individual cells, it may ultimately accomplish identical results. (Research Cloning Arguments Pro and Con, viewed 10 August 2010)
Research cloning would be very expensive if it is used in the routine medical measures. It would be very labor demanding and costly to create the cloned embryos. Women's health supporters are apprehensive about the healthiness and social justice implications of creating a human eggs market where most of the donors are probably poor women. (Research Cloning Arguments Pro and Con, viewed 10 August 2010)
2.7 Health risks
It is not only the child who would be mistreated in such untried reproduction but also those women who want to gestate a cloned child. The women would be in danger of trauma of an extremely high rate of miscarriage, the shock of being offered abortion when serious deformities were found in the uterus, and the wellbeing risks of a hard and unusual pregnancy. It would be reckless of the scientists to inflict such risks on any human no matter what the motives of the women who decided to take part. (Cloning and Stem Cell Research, viewed 10 August 2010)
2.8 A type of parental control
The cloned child would have no genetic parents. The child would be a replica of some live person, perhaps someone who had only just died. Even though the clone has survived and is in good shape, he will most likely live in the shadow of the original person, under pressure to be alike that person he was created to be similar to. The children's interest in establishing their own identity is compromised. The child's freedom is subjected unfairly to the parents' wishes. This makes cloning a type of extreme parental control because the child is created as a replica of a person selected by the parents. (Cloning and Stem Cell Research, viewed 10 August 2010)
3. Ethical issues of cloning
3.01 ‘Closed future’
Some people believe that cloning will cause children to not have an open future as they will become exactly like the person they are a clone of. They may also be exactly the opposite of the person they are a clone of. Religious organizations think that cloning gives humans a lot of power and that cloning does not care about the truth that every human has matchless soul. (Cloning, viewed 11 August 2010)
3.02 Unnatural way
A lot of people think that cloning is unnatural as cloning needs a considerably bigger level of participation and meddling with animals' reproductive performance than traditional production methods. Some religious groups, such as Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths, do not accept animal cloning. They view cloning and genetic modification as equivalent to playing God. Many others perceive this as an infringement of the distinctiveness of a human life, which each of us and no one else have received from God. (Cloning information, cloning ethics) Can we play God? Some think that we should just let things be the way they are as that is the way they are meant to be and we should not try to change that as it is nature's creation. Others think that the world can be free of cancers and tumors and perhaps save lives too. Others believe in restricting the means of unique types of cloning using harmless ways. (Understanding the issues of cloning, viewed 31 July 2010)
3.03 Risk of abuse
People fear that someone would form armies of military or even create huge amounts of human resources. This would result in clones being treated as the lower class people or the second class people and compromising individualities. Human cloning can bring serious jeopardy of abuses to human self-esteem and misuse by corrupt people. (Cloning information, cloning ethics, viewed 31 July 2010)
3.04 Morally wrong to kill or extend life
Although therapeutic cloning presents the possibility for caring for humans who are suffering from ailment or wounds, the procedure of taking out stem cells is the same as killing the human being as it will involve the annihilation of embryos. Religious and morally traditionally people think that is morally wrong to take the life of one person just to save or extend another person's life. However, other people believe that embryos do not need any ethical thoughts as it is just a cluster of cells that holds the DNA when is cloned, and are similar to the millions of skin cells that we discard daily. At that stage, the embryonic cells should not be thought of as the same as humans as the brain, feelings, inner organs, body and so on are not present. They believe that only when the brain grows and becomes conscious of itself then it has attained human personhood. (Rita Putatunda)
3.05 Not the exact same animal
Every creature that is shaped by life experience is more than an incarnation of his DNA. The cloned animal would look identical and bring pet lovers happy memories but it is not the same animal that they are looking at. Only the DNA is the same. (Wayne Pacelle)
3.06 Genetic disorders
If a particular animal is cloned several times and it has a virus, then its clones would bear the identical virus and this may cause a food shortage. It is likely that genetic disorders will occur. If a section of DNA is taken from a person to be duplicated, that person may be bearing a code for some kind of ailment which the symptoms of it would not show till later in that person's life. Thus, that same code would be duplicated to make another person carry the same ailment. (Understanding the issues of cloning, viewed 31 July 2010)
3.07 Pollute the diversity
Reproducing traits that parents' want would pollute the diversity of the world. If people can decide what traits their child should have, majority would choose the traits of well-known people who are very clever or gorgeous. Cloning can cause designer babies as the fertilized egg cell can be made better with additional genes for particular traits. The cloned people would be so alike in characteristics and their thinking that the world would be a very dull place if this were the case. (Understanding the issues of cloning) Moreover, the egg cell can be checked for genetic diseases. If the disease does not exist, it can be placed in the woman's womb, or else it will be destroyed. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
3.08 Unknown identity of the child
There are some who think that cloning is not safe for delivery of the baby. They are of the opinion that babies should not be created by unnatural ways and should have a variety of genes different from his parents. For the cloning purposes, the egg is obtained from a different woman; sperm is obtained from a different man who is not the father of the baby and is inseminated in the laboratory. The fertilized embryo is then placed in another mother who is not the one whom the egg was obtained. It will be unsure who the biological parents of the child are when the child is born. The child's identity will continue to be a mystery. (Ethical issues related to human and animal cloning, viewed 1 July 2010)
3.09 Clash with religious principles
There is a possibility that reproductive cloning may create a human that is genetically matching to a person who was formerly alive or who now currently is live. This might clash with ancient religious and common principles on self-respect, perhaps violating the main beliefs of individual liberty, individuality and sovereignty. However, some people disagree with that. They believe that infertile couples can achieve their vision of parenthood by reproductive cloning. Other people think human cloning is a method to steer clear of a destructive gene that is hereditary in the family without having to go through embryo testing. (What are some of the ethical issues related to cloning, viewed 3 August 2010)
3.10 Worsen the wellbeing of animals
Cloning may cause people to treat animals like an object. People may treat these living emotional beings as plain machinery for human creation. Also, communities are becoming more and more conscious of the handling of farm animals. A lot of people are worried for cloning worsens the wellbeing of animals as the animals are likely to bear hurting infections of udder, lameness and also 'production related' diseases. (Ethics, viewed 3 August 2010)
3.11 Different personalities
Cloning cannot make sure that the genetically similar humans will have the similar individual thinking or goals as the model. For instance, it is not certain that the baby whose embryo was made better with genes for musical talent will become a well-known pianist one day. Even if the child has a musical flair, it is for him to decide whether he will use them or not. If the child has no interest in going for piano lessons, then the talent will remain undiscovered. It is the same problem when one tries to replace the one he loves. Impractical hope on how the personality will be may cause disappointments. Obviously the outer appearance of the clone will be closely identical but the character may be poles apart. The clone cannot be a replacement for another person. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
3.12 Two classes of people
There will be two classes of humans if most of the people are cloned, the one who’s gene is enhanced and the one who is produced naturally. The one whose gene is enhanced will definitely have many advantages in life as they were given particular flairs. They will be rich as only the rich ones will have enough money to improve their child with particular genes. They also have a higher chance of obtaining better jobs than other people due to their particular talents so they will be even wealthier. Affluent people always have loads of power. Sooner or later, the well-off gene-enhanced people may be the most influential ones. (Sabine Reinhold, viewed 7 August 2010)
Given the advanced technology and the success of the cloned sheep, Dolly, more scientists will be trying their best to improve the process of cloning. As seen from the information above, cloning is still not an advanced technology. There are a lot of risks involved that concern the health of the humans and the clones.
I feel that it is unfair for us to intervene in choosing the special talents for our children. We should be happy with what we have and our own talents. It is unfair to other people if we enhance our own genes. Cloning costs a lot and only those wealthy people can afford it. What about those less wealthy people? This may cause an even bigger inequality in our society which we would want to avoid. Also, it is unnatural. Although cloning can make us immortal, in the long run, it will cause overpopulation in the world.
There are both sides to cloning which we must consider very seriously before we legalize or ban it. It is an issue which must be handled carefully. Cloning can bring the world benefits but can also destroy us. Both sides of the arguments seem very convincing. Everyone will have different opinions to cloning based on their religious values or their own principles. It is difficult to say whether cloning is ethically right or wrong. If the government decides to legalize it, there will definitely be some people who will protest against it and vice versa.
The government must ensure that cloning is not used for the wrong and unethical purposes. It can be dangerous if the technology of cloning is in the wrong hands. Who knows what hidden motives they have? Human lives are very important. We must not devalue our lives.