Should Human Cloning Be Allowed?

Introduction

Cloning is the technical term that refers to the scientific genetic replication method.

The scientific society worldwide is in the process of exploring the similarity in the characteristics between the original being and its duplicated clone and the impact of genetics on the similarity between the two replicas (Pakhare J., 2007).

The commonly used technique in Human Cloning is Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer.

This technique involves the removal of a nucleus from the egg cell of a donor which is then fused with a genetically similar cell to be cloned (Pakhare J., 2007).

Issues in Human Cloning

The issue of human cloning has initiated a debate not only among the scientific society but in the entire society in general. The controversy has proponents as well as opponents regarding the issue of human cloning. The debate arises from a number of crucial concerns regarding the potential of abuse and exploitation of women, whose eggs would be required and used in the process; interference in the natural course and order of the human reproduction process, and the annihilation of human embryos. Thus diverse organizations, ranging from political to social to educational have stepped up their efforts in issuing statements either for or against the issue of human cloning. Those who support the cause of human cloning argue that there is a new light for childless couples, who would prefer to have children, genetically related to them.

Common Technique in Human Cloning

Human cloning can be of use in a variety of other ways rather than merely reduplicating humans. The basic technique of human cloning under debate is Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer popularly termed as SCNT. The SCNT may be used for reproductive purposes, remedial purposes, and research purposes. Thus we see that human cloning does not merely involve reduplication or reproduction of humans.

However, the debate within the United States is a rather divided issue with no consensus being reached regarding whether human cloning must be banned or may be allowed for research purposes.

Opponents of Human Cloning

Laboratory experiments with the SCNT have affirmed the inefficiency of the basic technique to attain ‘cloned embryos’ (Norsigian, Judy, 2005). Women will be needed in great numbers in order to attain eggs, and for the purpose of speeding the egg formation process, maybe put on medication which would ultimately risk their lives, putting them in grave health dangers. Besides, acquiring a cloned embryo requires many attempts most of which fail. Even after the embryo has been acquired, the implant does not have a high gestation completion rate within the female uterus. This increases the risks to women’s lives (Norsigian, Judy, 2005).

A report of ‘The President’s Council on Bioethics’ (2002), argues that human cloning poses a threat to the dignity of human beings (President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002).

The debate is on the possibility of fabrication and marketing of humans and thus be treated as “commodities” (President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002).

The 1997 report drafted by the ‘National Bioethics Advisory Commission’, states the reasons for claiming human cloning, particularly reproductive cloning as unethical. It argues that the “biological” reduplication “of humans” is a harmful process that has the potential to negatively affect human dignity (President’s Council on Bioethics, 2002). [171]

Opponents of the issue have expressed the concern that human cloning has the potential to diminish the co-relation “of humans to each other and their culture” 42 (Council for Responsible Genetics) On similar terms, ‘The president’s Council on Bio-Ethics’, (2002), reported that if a society permits “dehumanizing practices”, it stands the risk of “becoming an accomplice in those practices” (‘The president’s Council on Bio-Ethics’, 2002).

There are additional concerns regarding the serious threats to the health of human beings and in particular to women. The report of ‘Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning’ by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), affirms the risks to the lives of humans who have been reproduced by cloning. The report states that human cloning would necessitate numerous eggs or embryos, which will obviously be obtained from women, thereby increasing the risk to the lives of women, in particular, the women belonging t the lower strata in society. (37. Cohen, Cynthia. The Image of God, the Eggs of Women, and Therapeutic Cloning). The concern is based on the fact these women would be given numerous drugs to facilitate the ovule production in their bodies, which directly would put their lives in danger140. (National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning (2002).

The ‘American Medical Association’, opposes human children’s reproduction by cloning based on the fact that it has the potential to cause ‘physical and physiological harm to the resultant offspring. 8. American Medical Association. (Dec.,1999)

Feinberg argues about the “Rights” of a child born due to reproductive cloning, asserting that this form of reproduction would deny him his rights to an “open future” (Feinberg, Joel., 1992)

Richardson and Kurt A. (1998) are averse to the idea of reproduction by human cloning because of the potential ‘psychological effects’ on the resultant children. These negative effects could arise from the fact that the child would have no identity of its own, having being created from the gene of an already existing person. (American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Nov. 2000).

Legal concerns have also been expressed in relation to human reproductive cloning.

Since the cloned child would be genetically related to four separate humans, creating newer controversial relations, for which there are no laws in the current legal system (Elster, Nanette., 1999).

Kolehmainen and Sophia argue that human cloning has the potential to decrease the diversity of the human race in general. They state the reason for this to be the inability of humans to distinguish the advantageous genes from those that are harmful

Reproductive cloning would decrease human diversity, thereby terming human cloning for reproductive purposes to be exceedingly “dangerous” 104 (Kolehmainen, & Sophia M. ‘Human Cloning: Brave New Mistake’).

Besides that fear of reduction of human diversity, Kolehmainen, & Sophia debate that human cloning would reduce the tolerance power of humans towards fellow human beings since each person would prefer to have a clone of the desired personality, the tolerance level towards undesirable of temperamentally different human beings would be greatly minimized. “Variety” is an important factor of society, and cloning would result in the production of similar beings, posing a potential threat to this variety (Kolehmainen, & Sophia M. ‘Human Cloning: Brave New Mistake’.

The basic issue revolving around the debates of human cloning is the safety and security of the human race. However, some portions of society are of the view that human cloning must be allowed under specific conditions of safety if the purpose is for the general good of the people. Most of the opponents argue that human cloning must be banned or be disallowed since it is yet under the development process.

Proponents of Human Cloning

The proponents of human cloning assert that there is enough data and research to support the use of human cloning for reproductive purposes, especially for childless couples, who desire to have children.

The employment of cloning is good news to childless couples, who desire to have children who are biologically similar to themselves (Orentlicher, David, 2000/2001). In couples, with problems of infertility, cloning would present the option of bearing a child that is similar to at least either spouse.

On the other hand, human cloning for research purposes is a necessity according to some scientists. Scientists are of the view that research cloning has the potential of revealing the basic functioning of diseases in humans. This, they assert, can be achieved by the SCNT, which will play a crucial role in the study of diseased patients (Weissman, I.L. 2002). These scientists assert that research-based human cloning will be particularly beneficial in the study of inherent diseases including the likes of cancer. They also highlight that certain areas of the human body, such as the brain are particularly sensitive and hence difficult to study. Cloned cells give the potential to compare the cells of diseased patients with those of non-diseased people, thereby enabling the scientists to gain a thorough insight into the disease processes (National Academy of Sciences, 2002).

Opposing the view that research-based human cloning could pose a serious threat to the lives of women certain scientists have revealed data elucidating the fact that there is no significant relationship between the use of drugs to facilitate ovulation in women and cancer of the breast or ovary among women (Brinton, L.A. et al (a). 2004; Brinton, L.A. et al (b). 2004).

The ‘Culture of Life Foundation and Institute’ asserts that the attainment of stem cells does not necessarily demand the destruction of human embryos or SCNT stating that there are substitute processes to acquire them. They further state that these stem cells are a necessary tool for promoting research-based activities for determining the therapeutic nature of human cloning to save the lives of humans afflicted by diseases (Culture of Life Foundation and Institute).

Proponents of therapeutic human cloning, assert that stem cells could play a crucial role in the treatment of patients with the deteriorating disease for which there is not much research or therapy available (Biotechnology Industry Organization). They further state that in order to do so, the stem cells of the patient itself may be used, in the process and treatment of the patient, thereby minimizing the risk negative response from the body (Biotechnology Industry Organization). They are of the firm view that human cloning must be allowed for therapeutic purposes considering the potential it has for saving and improving the lives of “countless” people (United Kingdom Department of Health, 2000).

In a letter from the ‘Coalition for Medical Research to President George W. Bush’ dated June 23, 2004, signed by a hundred and forty organizations supporting the cause of human cloning for research and therapeutic purposes, stated that stem cells from embryos have the potential to alleviate the “pain and suffering” of “more than hundred million” diseased and troubled citizens of the United States of America.

In her article, ‘Human Cloning Benefits’, Pakhare J. (2007) lists numerous advantages of human cloning. She writes that human cloning has the potential to reverse the aging process, and can make people look younger than they actually are. Pakhare refers to Dr. Seed R., who happens to be one of the proponents of human cloning.

Pakhare states that Coronary artery Disease is a major health problem to most people everywhere in the world, which scientists believe can be reduced by the process of cloning where healthy cells are infused into the diseased heart, thereby enhancing the quality as well as the span of human life.

She further reiterates that human cloning can be useful in repairing damaged organs of the human body by using a similar process. ‘Embryonic stem cells could be developed to fabricate organs or tissues in order to renovate or substitute the ones that are destroyed. the stem cells could also be used to repair and replace the burnt skin of victims, damaged brain cells, coronary artery disease, and other heart diseases, damaged body organs such as lungs, livers, and kidneys (human cloning foundation).

Common dilapidating ailments and diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, disease of the joints, and innumerable problems of humans have the potential of being cured by using human cloning (human cloning foundation).

Human cloning is a boon to infertile couples as it can enable them to have a child who is genetically related to them (human cloning foundation).

The use of human cloning in cosmetic surgeries has the potential to replace the currently used silicon component, which may prove to be harmful to the human immune system (Pakhare J., 2007). Even in severe accident cases, where the face of the victims have been terribly deformed, human cloning therapy can be effectively used to repair the victim’s face and features. This will prove to be highly beneficial as the individual patient’s cells will be used, rather than foreign ones, which the body may reject. Similarly, surgeries involving breast implants will also yield successful results if human cloning were to be employed, since the silicon used in the process, has been proved to attack the immune system of the patients undergoing the surgery, causing severe health side-effects (Pakhare J., 2007).

The package also claims in her article that the defective genes in people which are responsible for causing ill health among people can be treated to promote good health.

Pakhare states that the possibility of curing and treating a deadly disease like cancer cannot be ruled out, since human cloning enables the ‘switching’ of cells. She also states that besides cancer several other diseases including kidney and liver failure, injury of the spine, Down’s syndrome and many other genetically transmitted, incurable diseases can be cured by human cloning.

Therapeutic cloning (Benefits)

Therapeutic cloning would be able to save the lives of many old, sick, and dying individuals. The success of therapeutic cloning would also improve the quality of life of unhealthy patients (Department of Health, UK).

Therapeutic cloning could reduce the danger of rejection of a transplant, as the cells would be from the healthy parts of the patient’s body. (Human cloning foundation).

In transplants that generally involve a donor, such as a kidney and liver transplants, human cloning would potentially reduce the risk of life-shortening among the donors. (Human cloning foundation).

There would be no waiting period for patients who require a transplant from a prospective donor, reducing the threat to the life of the patient, since a new organ could be grown to replace the old, damaged one. In case of a donation being made to replace the damaged organ of a patient, there is very little or no choice the patient can make regarding the age and the condition of the donated organ, which may be weak or old. Human cloning would ensure that the new organ is healthy and fit enough to replace the old one. (Human cloning foundation).

Conclusion

As can be gauged, the benefits of Human Cloning far outweigh the negative aspects. The potential to transform the lives of millions of humans all over the world must be used as an incentive to further the cause of human cloning.

All the human beings in this world have a right to stay healthy and if science is presented with the opportunity of improving the lives of people, all the resources must be utilized in order to achieve ultimate human health.

References

American Medical Association. Cloning to Produce Children, Position Statement: E-2.147 (1999), Web.

American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Ethics Committee Report, Human Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (2000). Web.

37. Cohen, Cynthia. ‘The Image of God, the Eggs of Women, and Therapeutic Cloning’ 32 U. Tol. L. Rev.367 (2001).

Council for Responsible Genetics. CRG Position Statement on Cloning, Web.

Department of Health (UK), ‘A report from the chief medical officer’s expert group reviewing the potential of developments in stem cell research and cell nuclear replacement to benefit human health,’ Web.

Biotechnology Industry Organization. The Value of Therapeutic Cloning for Patients, Web.

Brinton, L.A. et al. (a) Breast cancer risk associated with ovulation-stimulating drugs. Hum. Reprod.19, 2005-2013 (2004).

Brinton, L.A. et al. (b) Ovarian cancer risk aft er the use of ovulation-stimulating drugs. Obstet. Gynecol. 103, 1194-1203 (2004).

Culture of Life Foundation and Institute. Stem Cell Information, Web.

Elster, Nanette. Who is the Parent in Cloning? 27 Hofstra L. Rev. 533 (1999).

Feinberg, Joel. The Child’s Right to an Open Future, in Freedom and Fulfillment: Philosophical Essays, 76-97 (1992).

HumanCloning.Org, Web.

Human Cloning Foundation. “The Benefits of Human Cloning.” Web.

Kolehmainen, Sophia M. Human Cloning: Brave New Mistake, Web.

National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, Scientific and Medical Aspects of Human Reproductive Cloning (2002).

National Bioethics Advisory Commission, Cloning Human Beings (1997).

Norsigian, Judy. Risks to Women in Embryo Cloning. Th e Boston Globe. 2005, at A13.

Orentlicher, David. Beyond Cloning: Expanding Reproductive Options for Same-Sex Couples. 66 Brooklyn L. Rev. 651 (2000/2001).

Pakhare J., 2007, ‘Human Cloning Benefits’. Web.

President’s Council on Bioethics. Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry (2002).

Richardson, Kurt A. Human Reproduction by Cloning in Th eological Perspective. 32 Val. U.L. Rev. 739 (1998).

Right to Life of Michigan. Position Statement: Human Cloning (2000), Web.

United Kingdom Department of Health. Stem Cell Research: Medical Progress with Responsibility: A Report from the Chief Medical Offi cer’s Expert Group Reviewing the Potential of Developments in Stem Cell Research and Cell Nuclear Replacement to Benefit Human Health (2000), Web.

Weissman, I.L. Stem cells: Scientifi c, medical, and political issues. N. Engl. J. Med. 346, 1576-1579 (2002).