Ethical Issues Regarding Human Cloning Philosophy Essay
It is very common that people are fascinated by the resemblance between individuals of the same family such as children and parents, siblings or cousins. Even the resemblance among twins has long been a subject of observation and scientific study. Science, however, now provides more reason for fascination, through the process of cloning. With cloning it is now possible to form a creature which is completely similar to its parent. The first success was with a sheep and later with other mammals. The questions now are about the possibilities of cloning human beings. Could this possibly mean that within a few years, copies of men and women will be a familiar scene? While this is an interesting idea, it raises the fears of many religious, political, social and scientific groups. Actually, cloning as a whole is a controversial issue. Through scientific development, cloning is one of the most promising fields of study, but at the same time, it poses major ethical, biological and even social problems.
Cloning is a process through which a cell is taken from an organism and scientifically matured such that it would end up growing into an organism which has the same physical properties and features of the mother organism. The cell is then implanted in another or in the same embryo where it grows naturally. The results have been successful on a number of trials, and the physical resemblance between parent and offspring was perfect (Begley, 41).
Long before cloning became a reality, its possible uses and benefits were ready in mind. Genetic engineers have been looking for a means through which to maintain the same physical qualities in the offspring of certain sheep and cattle that provided excellent milk or wool (Carney, 1875). As these mammals bred, the quality of the offspring was not always as good as that of their parents. With cloning, this will be much easier. All what scientists have to do now is to genetically engineer the cells they need, and then, they only have to create clones (Harris, 44).
What scientists agree on is that cloning will be saving thousands of animals that are about to become extinct. Mammals like the Panda, for example, take years to have offspring. With cloning, this is no longer a problem, because scientists can make as many Pandas as needed, and they would all be similar (Fitzgerald, 3).
Cloning will not only benefit animals, but also plants. Scientists believe that cloning will enable them to create trees and other plants which can be more enduring to diseases and climatic influences through cloning (Kluger, 46). Moreover, once scientists reach a type of plant which has perfect features, they will immediately clone it, thus, saving time and money on trying to get the same qualities in the offspring (Kluger, 46).
All these positive characteristics, however, may not be sufficient to make cloning a good news to many. Arguments and voices against cloning have started immediately after the first clone was born. Genetic engineers are in specific concerned about cloning. These scientists believe that it is too early to talk about cloning as a reality, especially that nothing is yet known about the consequences. There might be many biological and natural drawbacks which will not be seen before years pass by. These scientists also believe that cloning will eliminate the most important benefit of reproduction, namely evolution. Every offspring is usually more developed than its parents due to genetic evolution. With cloning, such a process is not possible, especially that the offspring are similar to their parents in every genetic aspect. This means that on the long run, the clones will be vulnerable to diseases because their immunity systems are not evolving through sexual reproduction (Carney, 1875).
A second biological problem is the degree of control which science can exert on the process of cloning. Even in sexual reproduction, faults appear, leading to the creation of defected offspring. There are no guarantees that such a problem will not occur with clones, especially that scientists think that it is too early to say that they have full control over the processes which govern cloning (Begley, 42). Thus, there are fears that some clones may be born with genetic deficiencies which raises doubts about the morality of cloning and its economic benefits (Fitzgerald, 3).
A third biological problem is about the life of the clone. If an organism is cloned, it will be similar in physical outcomes to its parent which donated the mother cell (Fitzgerald, 3). However, the problem which scientists are not sure of so far is the aging of the clone. If the donating parent is old, then its cells carry aged chromosomes and ingredients. This means that clones may suffer from early aging, making them prone to many risks that face old age. This, scientists believe, will remain a major threat until the future proves otherwise (Kluger, 44).
In addition to biological problems, cloning faces a serious religious opposition, not only from the Church but also from other biblical religions, Islam and Christianity. The three religions believe that man has no right to interfere in creation. Cloning is a direct interference in creation since it involves controlling the physical features and characteristics of the clone (Coupland, 48). Religious authorities fear that cloning might be the first step towards more serious interference in creation, especially if it is projected on to human beings. Thus, while religion might be tolerant about animal cloning, it completely against human cloning, supported in its position by popular and official rejection by most world governments (Coupland, 48).
So far, most world nations have banned human cloning. While animal and plant cloning are seen as necessary developments in the science of genetic engineering, especially if the outcomes are to be for the welfare of humanity, the case is not the same for human cloning. Governments detect at least three problems with human cloning, making it necessary to pass a ban on it. First of all, governments are afraid that human cloning could become a trade in the hands of unethical scientists. Parents who cannot beget children for any reasons, may be interested in having clones. Thus, the child would be a genetic copy of the parent donating the mother cell. This can have serious outcomes no the child, especially that he or she will be physically similar to the parent. The outcomes can be socially and psychologically negative on the child. In addition to this, there are no guarantees that the child will not be defected or suffering from other biological problems (Coupland, 48).
A second issue raised by governments is that trials on human cloning are most likely going to result in creating many human beings with serious defects which make these clones unable to live normally in society. These defects could be physical or mental. Science used in this sense is a humiliation to humanity and to life. Therefore, governments will see that cloning human beings will not take place (Coupland, 48).
Other fears about cloning are in the possible future uses that may be exploited by opportunists. It is not clear until now what cloning can produce. Many wonder whether celebrities will be interested in having their own clones in order to keep their images alive in the memories of mankind. Thus, if the cells of Hitler can be obtained, a Hitler clone will be very easy to reproduce. Whether the rule “like father like son” is applicable to character and intelligence as it is applicable to the physical traits is probably not known yet (Coupland, 48). Moreover, cloning can be a path to organized crime based on scientific methods. International criminal organizations may want to clone what they think to be the perfect superman. Hence, individuals with maximal physical traits such as strength, height, and others will be chosen and cloned in order to produce armies of gangsters to rule the world. Although this is a fantasy, many will certainly try to make it come true (Kluger, 44).
The ethical arguments for and against cloning are not easy to ignore. On the one hand, a parent has the right to clone a child if he or she is childless. While this is ethical in appearance, it is not in content. Does the parent have the right to control the physical traits of the child? If the parent’s cells are prone to develop cancer, the same trait will be perfectly transferred to the clone; can this be considered as ethical? These and many other questions are still waiting for answers which will probably not come for years (Nash, 40).
Meanwhile, scientists and governments are more concerned about animal cloning, for the future of cloning lies in these two fields. Human cloning on the other hand remains banned, although it is definite that many will try it. Actually, several experiments have been carried out on embryos but these have now become restricted. It is not going to surprise, however, when one night, the CNN breaks the news to the world when it holds an interview with the first cloned man in the world, but this will probably be sometime in the twenty-first century.
In conclusion, cloning is one of the major issues facing the world for the twenty-first century. Cloning is the result of major scientific advancements made in the in the twentieth century in the field of genetic engineering. However, this issue remains controversial, especially as there are ethical, political, biological and social challenges to the subject of cloning. Until then, cloning will continue as a scientific process on animals and plants, although it is certain, that somewhere in the dark, human cloning is taking place.
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