Since the advent of cloning, there have been many controversies that have resulted for and against cloning. The thoughts of various religious groups on this issue are often that this process is ethically wrong and that playing with the created beings is disrespectful to the creator. This article provides information about the debates on the different ethical issues that arise in relation to cloning people.
In 1997, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal to be successfully cloned. Cloning required a staggering 277 trials that produced only 29 embryos with only one birth surviving. Rapid advances in science and technology over the past decade mean that humanity has discovered new frontiers, challenging longstanding beliefs and ideas, and the area that has generated such controversy is cloning. Creating exact copies or cloning people has always challenged the human imagination. This desire has manifested itself in various arts and entertainment depicting cloned people. The successful cloning of Dolly in 1997 sparked conversation about the possibility of human cloning. Over the years in the field of cloning, it has meant an artificial and identical genetic copy of an existing life form.
Scientifically speaking, cloning is replacing an organism’s egg nucleus with the donor’s nucleus, and that nucleus contains the donor’s unique genes. The procedure is to remove the nucleus of a somatic cell and insert it into an enucleated or unfertilized egg cell. Unlike natural reproduction, in which the egg contains a combination of genetic material, this egg that turns into an embryo contains only the donor’s gene. Theoretically, this might seem pretty straightforward. However, the high prevalence of deformity and disability rates in cloned animals, combined with a high failure rate strongly suggests that cloning may not be applicable to humans.
Ethical Issues – A Foundation
Cloning has an advantage. Among these, it can also help homosexual and infertile couples to have biological children and further study such as motor neuron disease. Embryonic stem cells can be cloned to produce tissues or organs to replace or repair damaged ones. Human cloning can give parents who lost their children a chance to make up for their losses using the DNA of their deceased child. On the other hand, cloning offers us certain issues such as the lifestyle that a cloned individual will lead. Does he live like a unique individual or should he live like a genetic prisoner? Should parents select the traits of a future child as much as possible by cloning?
These and similar issues pose an ethical and moral dilemma for scientists and experts who view cloning as a potential danger to human identity.
Ethical Issues – In Detail
Religious belief and control
Cloning goes against the basic belief of some religions that only God created life and its various forms in nature. Humans cannot act as God. Even when genetically identical twins are born, their embryos divide spontaneously or randomly to give a new unique genetic combination. Cloning involves the controlled division of the embryo to create a personalized genetic structure. It is ethically wrong for any person to have control over the genetic makeup of another individual. Moreover, the cloned individual will be produced for specific purposes. This is fundamentally wrong, where the purpose of one’s life must be more than meeting the needs of another.
Relationships and individuality
Cloning creates a new person but distracts him from his individuality. A man can never be honored as one identity with his clone. The uniqueness ascribed to humans from the creator may be at stake, and the replication of an individual is a major blow to their most prominent characteristic – identity. An important fact is how can the cloned individual react and act regarding his family and parents? Is he considered a sibling if he was cloned from his grandfather and not his parents? How would he react? How will parents and family look after the cloned individual? When unsure of the questions or the consequences of such situations, it is ethically wrong to subject any individual to such tests as other people do.
Physicians and physicians have a moral obligation to ensure the safety of any medical procedure and translate it to their patients. As of now, no one can guarantee that the child born due to cloning will be healthy. The high failure rate in cloning mammals and other species is completely unacceptable when it comes to cloning humans. Moreover, in the event of an unsuccessful cloning attempt, killing mammals or other species on their own is a pity. As far as human clones are concerned, translating the same thing is as guilty as it is ethically and medically unfair.
Legal and Other Issues
Changing the gene pool
If cloning becomes widespread, human genetic diversity will decrease. This will cause people to have a reduced immunity against diseases. Thus, it makes people susceptible to epidemics and unknown diseases. Some argue that human cloning is ethically unacceptable because it is seen as a threat to all human evolution. While this topic is somewhat hypothetical, it can still pose a potential threat to all humanity. In addition to reducing generic diversity, there are risks of transferring degenerative diseases from donor human to clone. Trans-genetic manipulation, in which genetic material from one species is artificially added to another species, will lead to the transfer of diseases from other species when applied to humans. Therefore, large-scale cloning could be a serious blow to the entire human race in the future.
Illegal cloning and clones
A cloned child with multiple donors can complicate parental rights issues, inheritance and marital compliance issues. Another view suggests that there is the possibility of developing clones without the consent of the person concerned. This will definitely create legal problems that do not mention the violation of both medical and moral ethics. Many people worry that clones will be produced with a specific need and purpose in mind and that such cloned persons will be traded or sold, meaning human trafficking, which is illegal. On the other end of the spectrum are some experts who feel that the embryo does not need a particular moral assessment. They say that at the stage when an embryo is cloned, it is a group of cells containing DNA that is not much different from the millions of skin cells shed every day. The embryonic cells at that stage have their thoughts, self-awareness, memory, awareness of their surroundings, sense organs, internal organs, legs, arms, etc. It cannot be considered equivalent to a human because it is not. They think that the embryo acquires human identity or individuality much later during pregnancy, perhaps at the point where the brain evolved to become aware of itself.
Given the highly controversial aspects of cloning and weighing the pros and cons of this process, UNESCO adopted a non-binding United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning in March 2005. Dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, will not be allowed. There is no federal law in the United States that prohibits cloning entirely, but 13 states have banned breeding cloning. While many countries have banned cloning, many countries allow therapeutic cloning, a system in which stem cells are extracted from the pre-embryo to create a whole organ or tissue. Thus, it can be transported back to the cloning person.
Since human cloning raises some serious concerns, it would be extremely irresponsible to continue this method without serious consideration. New problems are bound to arise with advances in this field, and only time can determine its fate. It would not be appropriate to participate in the cloning of humans until the benefits are discussed by society in a way that outweighs harm.