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Moral And Ethical Issues Of Human Cloning Philosophy Essay

Cloning is rapidly emerging as one of the most controversial and emotion-laden of topics in todays world. To clone or not to clone: that is the million-dollar question. The prospect of cloning humans is highly controversial and raises a number of ethical, legal and social challenges that need to be considered. So, is it right or is it wrong? Can we not overlook this aspect since there are many advantages to it? But then again, a line has to be drawn somewhere, does it not? Before going into the controversial debate over cloning, a concrete, dictionary definition of what a clone is, must be given in order to prevent any confusion that may occur later on. A clone is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as "the aggregate of the asexually produced progeny of an individual" as well as "an individual grown from a single somatic cell of its parent and genetically identical to it.” To put it in simpler words, it is an asexually reproduced offspring who has the same genetic information as another organism or organisms.

With that said, A matter of much debate in current society is whether human cloning should be allowed so that infertile couples could have the opportunity to have genetically related children, give people the chance of life after death, and open the way for perfect match organ transplants, or should it be banned because it involves the waste and destruction of human embryos, could lead to unfair treatment of cloned individuals and their original, and it may lead to a “designer” society. A 1997 CNN poll conducted among 1,005 American adults found that 69% are scared of the possibility of cloning humans (Poll). Why is this? This fear of the unknown has always excited the human race, from the Marina trench to the outer limits of space, we as humans have always strived to increase our scientific and technological knowledge. In order to over come the fear of the dark we must shine light on the unknown. Many Americans feel very strongly one way or the other on the issue of human cloning, through this paper we will research and discuss where each of these sides are coming from, exploring the ethical, moral, and logical aspects of both pro and anti- cloning concerns.

Jeff Sessions, junior United States Senator from Alabama has stated, “We, in this country, have believed by a substantial majority that cloning human beings is not right and should not be done. We certainly have all seen the rejections of Nazi Germany's abuses of science. As a society and a nation, there ought to be some limit on what we can allow or should allow”(Brainy Quotes). This statement in its self, makes are minds race to the internal sacred parts of our body’s, it make us ask the personal question, is human cloning ethical, does it truly meet our own standards of right vs. wrong? On one side of the debate are those who are against human cloning. These people feel that cloning could very possibly do more damage than good. First of all, in the beginning stages of cloning it will take many years to perfect it. It took at least 208 attempts, which means embryos, to succeed in cloning Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned (Gibbs 52). It is suspected that it will take even more attempts to successfully clone a human being. Presently, in the cloning of mammals, 98% of cloned embryos do not implant, or die off during gestation or shortly after birth (Gibbs 52). Also, those who are against cloning respond to the argument that cloning allows for bringing the dead back to life, that a clone will not have the same personality that the original person had. This is due to the fact that much of personality is determined by nurture and environment, not genes. So, they believe that if someone clones a person in hopes of having them be exactly like the original person, the clone will end up being treated unfairly and have unrealistic expectations set upon them. Thirdly, as for clones providing a perfect organ and blood match, those against cloning are afraid that clones may be produced only for the reason to take their organs or blood. This means that the clones would not be treated as a real person, if they are alive at all, assuming they are not created for use of their hearts or other vital organs. Also, anti-cloning people feel that it is possible that society could become homogeneous because only the best and most talented people would be cloned and therefore, society would lose all of its diversity (What Would a Human Clone Be Like). On the opposing side many pro cloning activist believe cloning great individuals with exemplary talents, genius, or character can be reproduced. Another Einstein, Mozart or Michael Jordan could benefit our society. They could teach us and help us teach our children, thus creating a stronger and healthier society  (Human cloning). Biologist hope that endangered species could be saved. They hope that through the research and perfection of the technology to clone mammals, preservation of endangered species will become available. Many other individual supports believe that with cloning, infertile couples could have children. Despite getting a fair amount of publicity in the news current treatments for infertility, in terms of percentages, are not very successful. One estimate is that current infertility treatments are less than 10% successful. Couples go through physically and emotionally painful procedures for a small chance of having children. Many couples run out of time and money without successfully having children (Human cloning).

So a simple question to ask, how do the scientist themselves feel about the ethics behind cloning? The scientists of the Missiplicity Project (Missy, the first dog to be cloned in history, following Dolly the sheep. The project started with the wish of Missy's owners to have her reproduced) answer to the question on ethics by saying that since they do believe in ethics, they developed their own "Code of Bioethics." This code sets out guidelines regarding issues such as ethical treatment of the animals as well as the "effort to minimize the waste of viable embryos" or the destruction of flawed embryos. The scientists believe that "cloning is definitely a new form of assisted reproduction, just as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization were new - and criticized as "ungodly" - in their day.

People have very different views of what is "natural.” Embryo cloning still depends on a human egg from a woman and sperm from a man. Human embryo cloning just tweaks apart a zygote at the two-cell stage, changing a single two-cell form of life into two one-cell forms of life. One can argue that God did not intend cloning to be done. But the same argument was used, largely in the past, to oppose such techniques as in vitro fertilization. It all depends upon what one is used to, and what one considers being "natural"(Jesse Rainbow). Some claim that cloned humans may be born without souls. They speculate that the soul enters the body when a sperm fertilizes an ovum. Since there is no sperm involved in cloning, perhaps the fetus would develop without a soul. There is no way to know whether a soul is present; it has no weight, it cannot be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or detected in any other way. In fact, many people believe that souls do not exist. Speculation on this topic can never be resolved. The final moral question raised by cloning is this: who is to be held responsible for taking care of this new life? The person whose genetic material is being used could easily be separate from the clone and claim no responsibility, as does a sperm donor. The person involved in giving birth to the child could also claim no responsibility since she is merely a surrogate. Human cloning is dangerous to society. The moral implications and the psychological ramifications toward clones and their progenitors only add to the urgency for many to want to permanently ban cloning.

Many who picture cloning as immoral imagine a person cloning him or herself so that the clone could be robbed for a needed organ. This argument is irrelevant; one has to separate possible abuses of a technology from the debate over whether a technology is moral. Quantum physics is not immoral because it has been used to design nuclear weapons.

The Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II made a recent statement against cloning of all life forms. The Vatican issued statement specifically condemning the cloning of humans but has not come out officially against cloning of other animals.  If God had wanted us to clone ourselves, he would have given us a way for a-sexual reproduction. But because we were made to reproduce bi-sexually, this is the only way we should continue to do so.  However, in contrast to the opinions of their peers, some Jewish and Muslim religious leaders testified before the National Bioethics Advisory Commission that they feel that embryo and cloning research might provide discoveries that would lead to an appropriate way to counter infertility (Jesse Rainbow). On August 29th 2000 Pope John Paul II addressed the International Congress on Transplants. He commented that medical "...methods that fail to respect the dignity and value of the person must always be avoided. I am thinking in particular of attempts at human cloning with a view to obtaining organs for transplants: these techniques, insofar as they involve the manipulation and destruction of human embryos, are not morally acceptable, even when their proposed goal is good in itself" (Pope Paul II).

On the same note, scientists are attempting to create transgenic pigs, which have human genes. Their heart, liver or kidneys might be useable as organ transplants in humans. This would save many lives. Thousands of people die each year waiting for available human organs if this is achieved, transgenic animals could be cloned to produce as many organs as are needed (Cloning Debate). A thought we as humans must explore is can we live with ourselves if we set ideal while men, women and children are dieing all over the world from dieses. Don’t we have a moral and ethical obligation to not just our county but to our selves to strive and find not just answers, but antidotes to diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer? How do you feel about it, does the end really justify the means?

So with so much debate and so much controversy, what could possible cause a human to want to clone another living life? Where is the logic behind all this madness, is trying to clone mammals a logical idea?

Scientists hope that one day therapeutic cloning can be used to generate tissues and organs for transplants. So that it may some day be used in humans to produce whole organs from single cells or to produce healthy cells that can replace damaged cells in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson's. To do this, DNA would be extracted from the person in need of a transplant and inserted into an enucleated egg. After the egg containing the patient's DNA starts to divide, embryonic stem cells that can be transformed into any type of tissue would be harvested. The stem cells would be used to generate an organ or tissue that is a genetic match to the recipient. In theory, the cloned organ could then be transplanted into the patient without the risk of tissue rejection. If organs could be generated from cloned human embryos, the need for organ donation could be significantly reduced (Cloning Fact Sheet).

The British Organ Donor Society (BODY) supports cloning efforts to relieve the strain of the lack of organs that are available. Cloning technology is expected to aid the result in several medical breakthroughs.  It is thought that there may one day be a cure for cancer.  This is because the cloning process helps us understand the process of cell differentiation. Theories exist that if a cure for cancer can be found, then further testing may lead to a cure for heart attacks and cloning organs for organ transplantation. Scientists believe that they may be able to treat heart attack victims by cloning their healthy heart cells and injecting them into the areas of the heart that have been damaged.  The cloning of organs would eliminate individuals waiting on a list for an organ transplant.  Skin for burn victims, brain cells for the brain damaged, spinal cord cells for quadriplegics and paraplegics, hearts, lungs, livers, and kidneys could be produced. By combining this technology with human cloning technology it may be possible to produce needed tissue for suffering people that will be free of rejection by their immune systems (Human Cloning). Biotechnology company Advanced Cell Technology Inc. (ACT), based in Worcester, Massachusetts, said the human cloning breakthrough was aimed not at creating a human being but at mining the embryo for stem cells to treat diseases ranging from Parkinson's to juvenile diabetes. Michael West, chief executive officer of ACT hopes to further treatment of ailments such as diabetes, cancer, AIDS, Parkinson' s and Alzheimer's disease .

Megan Regan wrote to the Human Cloning Foundation for not help, but awareness. This is an exert from her plead to inform even persuade those against cloning “I, too, was at first against cloning as I didn't like the idea of playing God. However, ten years ago I developed endolymphatic hydrops, which is an autoimmune disease of the middle ear. Since then I've lost my hearing, developed balance problems and dizziness and there is no cure.

As such I had to give up my job, which I loved; but worse was yet to come. I began getting bad headaches, blurred vision and pressure in my brain. I was then diagnosed with Arnold Chari malformation. I've since had neurosurgery twice. It's helped but not cured the problem. Also I have osteoarthritis of the cervical spine, which likewise cannot be cured.

So, to stem cell research, cloning and DNA manipulation, I say bring it on so people who, like me and in other cases worse off than me, would benefit from it. I don't want to live forever and become a superhuman through this technology. However, I believe I, and so do others, deserve a better quality of life. Might I add that healthy people who are against cloning would no doubt change their minds if placed in my position or in other people's positions who see the great need of this technology” (Hope).

Still how logical is it? Reproductive cloning is expensive and highly inefficient. More than 90% of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. More than a hundred nuclear transfer procedures could be required to produce one viable clone. In addition to low success rates, cloned animals tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders. Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early. About a third of the cloned calves born alive have died young, and many of them were abnormally large. Many cloned animals have not lived long enough to generate good data about how clones age. Appearing healthy at a young age unfortunately is not a good indicator of long-term survival. Clones have been known to die mysteriously. For example, Australia's first cloned sheep appeared healthy and energetic on the day she died, and the results from her autopsy failed to determine a cause of death (Cloning Fact Sheet).

“Cloning may be good and it may be bad. Probably it's a bit of both. The question must not be greeted with reflex hysteria but decided quietly, soberly and on it's own merits. We need less emotion and more thought” (Richard Dawkins is an eminent Brithish ethologist, evolutionary theorist, and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University). Due to the inefficiency of animal cloning (only about 1 or 2 viable offspring for every hundred experiments) and the lack of understanding about reproductive cloning, many scientists and physicians strongly believe that it would be unethical to attempt to clone humans. Not only do most attempts to clone mammals fail, about 30% of clones born alive are affected with "large offspring syndrome" and other debilitating conditions. Several cloned animals have died prematurely from infections and other complications. The same problems would be expected in human cloning. In addition, scientists do not know how cloning could impact mental development. While factors such as intellect and mood may not be as important for a cow or a mouse, they are crucial for the development of healthy humans. With so many unknowns concerning reproductive cloning, the attempt to clone humans at this time is considered potentially dangerous.

Cloning is definitely a sensitive issue that must be handled very carefully. Although cloning of animals has already been done, the human race may not yet be ready for the cloning of humans, regardless of the matter that it has already been done or not. There is no doubt in my mind that cloning has great advantages to it, but with it comes the fear that many "lines" may be crossed which should not be crossed. Scientists may believe that ethics may cease scientific development but with care and regard for ethics that are also within reason, I believe that this development will not be ceased. We have explored some of the major pro and cons in the controversial issue of cloning; from the ethical, morality and logic stand points we beginning to understand the sensitivity and grave importance of this topic. Now to say cloning is right or wrong is a personal decision. One that I hope I have shed light upon so that you might explore more the cause and effects of cloning the human race.


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