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Biology 103
2001 Second Web Report
On Serendip

Is cloning ethical and should it be pursued?

Akudo Ejelonu

Is cloning ethical and should it be pursued? Cloning is the method of producing a baby that has the identical genes to one person. In February 1997, embryologist Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at Roslin Institute in Scotland announced, "that they cloned a sheep named Dolly from the udder cells of a ewe." (1),. The announcement of Dolly's birth attracted enormous press interest, perhaps because Dolly drew attention to the theoretical possibility of cloning humans. This revelation also shocked the entire world and politicians immediately proposed bans on human cloning. The House of Representatives and the Senate drafted bills to completely ban human cloning and President Clinton established a National Bioethics Advisory Commission to address the science and ethics of human cloning. In the state of Michigan, Governor Engler signed a law last year making human cloning illegal with harsh penalties. The government's decision is a contentious issue because they are concerned about the use of cloning being abuse, even though cloning can be used for medical benefits.

People have conflicting views of the government's actions and they have proved to be controversial. The federal government should have regulated human cloning instead of banning it. There are significant benefits that can result from the technologies of cloning. Bypass of infertility is one of the most promising benefits. Fifteen percent of Americans suffer from infertility, much of which cannot be cured by current medicine. "Infertility is caused by genetic defects, injuries to the reproductive organs, congenital defects and exposure to toxic substances and radiation." (1),. Cloning offers infertile people the chance to raise and love their own genetic children. "The Supreme Court has ruled that every American has a constitutional right to "bear or beget" children, and to make reproductive decisions without government interference. This includes the right of infertile couples to use sophisticated medical technologies like cloning." (2),. This is ironic because the government officials have recently banned cloning and for many Americans cloning exercises their right to reproduce. But the government has taken this right away from them. There are limits on government control over who gets born. Americans have a constitutional right to have their own children, but infertile Americans are barred from having children. In this legal system, the fact that infertile people are prohibited from having children by cloning is unfair and unjust.

Cloning technology can lead to the use of cloned organs for the purpose of transplants. Therapeutic cloning would involve growing replacement organs (heart, liver, pancreas, skin, etc) from a sample of a person's DNA. The goal of therapeutic cloning is to produce a healthy copy of a sick person's tissue or organ for transplant. If the process of therapeutic cloning using embryos is successful then perfectly matched, replacement organs could become freely available to sick and dying people. This technique would be better than relying on organ transplants from other people. The supply of organs will be unlimited, so there would be no waiting lists. The possible examples of therapeutic cloning might include the use of liver cells to repair a damaged organ. Cloning is an important part of therapeutic technology because it would allow the creation of perfect-match tissue. At the moment, if you have a transplant, your body will try to reject the donated cells because it sees them as foreign. Doctors remedy this immune response by prescribing anti-rejection drugs that patients must take. But through therapeutic cloning patients will not have to take anti-rejection drugs. They would be derived from the patient him/herself and the immune system would recognize the cells as the bodies own. Therapeutic cloning would save countless numbers of lives, and increase the quality of life of many others.

There have been many legal developments that are set out to ban therapeutic cloning. "On July 30, 2001, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill to ban therapeutic cloning for both reproduction and therapeutic research. It would provide for up to ten years in prison and up to $1 million in fines for persons who attempt to clone a human being." (3),. By banning therapeutic cloning, government officials are contributing to the loss of many lives. Patients have to wait for organ donation and if they get one, their body may or may not accept it. Conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, heart failure, and other problems may be made curable if human cloning and its technology are not banned.

Many ethical arguments against human cloning are caused by misconceptions. Many people think that clones will have the same characteristics/personalities as the person from which they were cloned. Though the clone and the individual that they were cloned from have the same genes, their characteristics and personalities are different. People think that clone will be both physically and behaviorally identical to its donor, this is not true because though cloning will be probably identically physically, our environment constantly shapes our behavior and psychology. Someone who will try to clone a future Saddem Hussein might instead produce a modestly talented musician. Many people believe that cloning would lead to the loss of individuality however; cloned people have their own personality that is dissimilar from whom they were coned. For example, identical twins are genetically identical, just like clones and the person they were cloned from. But obviously genes don't make up the kind of person a twin will be. They why should cloning be any different?

The fear that clones will be treated as second-class citizens that are only created for the use of as tissue and organs donations. If humans were cloned, hopefully the clones will receive the same rights as everyone else. Some ethicists are afraid that the rights of those cloned will be violated. The fear that clones may have injustices inflicted on them is not a reason to stop cloning but to stop injustices. If cloning comes to reality, the federal government should pass legislations which gives clones rights and privileges as human beings.

Scientific advances bring social changes that many people will not be able to accept. As with any scientific or technological advance, the most important question that needs to be asked is whether or not the gains out weigh the potential losses. Will human cloning become a brave new step in fighting disease and improving the quality of life, or will it lead to dehumanization and a new genetic underclass? One of the goals of science is to revolutionize the world for the benefits of mankind and this could be achieved by cloning. Cloning should be only done if it does not cause any physical or mental harm to humans. No matter what governments do to prevent human cloning, and no matter what position is take on the issue, it is hard to ignore the reality that cloning will someday be the way of life.

Cloning for research could open the door to the devolvement of cures of medical needs like diabetes and stroke. Cloning technology is a reality, for better or for worse, and it will not go away. If we ban the use of this technology now, we will not be prepared to deal with this eventuality. If we utilize this technology and become familiar with it and set up international laws and guidelines for its utilization, however, we will be better prepared for the misuses that will eventually plague us. Cloning is a tool that can be good or bad according to the way it is put into use. A great caution should be exercised as we proceed into the new frontier.

WWW Sources

1) http://www.humancloning.org/ ,

2)http://reason.com/opeds/eibert.shtml ,

3)http://www.religioustolerance.org/cloning.htm ,




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