Cloning – to ban or not to ban
Throughout life, scientists have engineered, manufactured and cloned mice, sheep and monkeys raising matters as to whether humans may perhaps be next. The next stage for most researchers today is human genetic engineering, or therapeutic cloning which requires a human embryo either from aborted babies or the umbilical cord at birth and taking its stem cells, therefore killing the embryo which raises concern.
As a society we need to question whether this is another step forward that should be encouraged or an ethical disgrace that must be put to an end? The controversy surrounding the debate for therapeutic cloning primarily lies on the benefits of being able to grow organ replacements and heal damaged tissue in order to promote a longer and healthier life which is far more important than the ethics of using human embryos. Yet, without doubt, obtaining human embryos for the extraction of stem cells is unethical and therapeutic cloning goes far beyond the moral standards set by contemporary societies who believe that the dignity of killing the human embryo is appalling.
So should therapeutic cloning be banned or not?
Viewpoint: Yes it should be banned, because of the risks and resources needed for therapeutic cloning for it to be applicable and the large amount of religious concern as most people believe that scientists are possibly “playing the role of god” by imposing pain and suffering on a conscious organism.
There are numerous reasons as to why scientists should not continue research into therapeutic cloning.
1. Unacceptable medical risks
* Large amounts of cloning attempts end in failure, for example, it took almost 277 attempts to clone Dolly the sheep and clones that do survive often have incurable problems causing issues in their genes, for example, Dolly the sheep did not live as long as a typical sheep of her species as she had severe arthritis when she died and in one study 24% of cloned calves died within 3 months of birth and most of them due to chronic sickness.
* Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly even stated that human cloning efforts are criminally irresponsible and that cloning technology is still in its early stages and approximately 98% of cloning attempts result in failure. This was supposed to be because the embryos are either not suitable for implanting into the uterus or they die sometime during gestation or shortly after birth and those clones that do survive wind up suffering from fatal or problematic genetic abnormalities.
* Some clones have been born with fatal defects such as malfunctioning immune systems or lung problems. A well-known case was a cloned sheep that was cloned and born but experienced chronic hyperventilation caused by deformed arteries leading to the lungs.
* An old cell from which an organism is cloned could have obtained genetic deformations during its years that could give the resulting clone a tendency to fatal diseases such as cancer.
2. Psychological pain
* The path taken in life by the clone’s twin might have bad psychological distress or harm in the later twin.
* The clone may experience concerns about its own uniqueness and individuality.
* The clone would suffer from major inequality within society as it would be an “artificial child”.
* The life of the clone may constantly be criticized in relation to the old version.
* The variety of life may significantly be reduced.
* There would be a large amount of confusion amongst friends as they would not be able to tell the clone from the older version.
* Threatens the clone’s freedom of choice as it does not get to choose whether it can be cloned or not.
3. Cloning converts reproduction into manufacture
* Society would become desensitized to the value and dignity of human life.
* “Human life” would become “human cellular life”.
* Cloning would lead to power over children and the alteration of parenthood.
* Humans would be man-made instead of being created naturally.
* Cloning would potentially lead to Eugenics which is the attempt to improve human beings of their physical features instead of their social or educational prospects.
4. Influential use of the embryo
* The aim is to possibly treat extremely serious diseases in another human being, but cause sufficient injury to another. Ethically we move back from the idea of killing a human being in order to provide spare parts for another, so why should we allow an early embryo to be destroyed to provide cells to potentially cure disease when another human being could be offered a new life? The above limited purposes give an idea that there is a large amount of influence towards the embryo.
As a society we must learn to live with disease and be responsible for our own life choices. We must deal with the fact that we will all die at some stage in life, and that some of us will die from diseases for which we do not currently or perhaps never have the cure.
Director Peter Garrett of LIFE research article views therapeutic cloning as incompatible and unjust, and stating that “‘Deliberately to kill innocent human beings so that patients can extend their lives exploits and discriminates against vulnerable human life in a way that is incompatible with justice and the respect due to every human being regardless of how big or small he/she is.
Hannah M. Vick from Embryonic Stem Cell Research believes that “the moral and ethical problems of therapeutic cloning make its continuation unacceptable. The moral consequence of compromising the life of a human being does not and cannot outweigh potential medical benefits in the future.”
Viewpoint: No, it should not be banned, because of the potential for medical advancements and cures for a vast array of diseases, for example, stem cells could be made to grow new nerve cells to combat dementia, Alzheimer’s and even strokes and could produce replacement limbs and organs quickly which would decrease the time a patient waited for a transplantation.