Ethical issues of Human Cloning
There is no definitive evidence that it is technically possible to clone individuals. Despite all of the efforts made to modify the procedures, there are still low success rates in animal cloning. It is also proven by the inability to clone primates. Cloning is banned because of safety concerns. Despite many modifications made to the procedures for each species and including many animals, this ban has also been enforced.
This is because cloning would require the production of hundreds of eggs for research and treatment women with hormones that could be dangerous. Even though preliminary animal evidence shows that human cloning has been successful, this would only be the beginning. Before you endorse the cloning of humans, be sure to examine the ethical principles behind human research.
2001 was a landmark year in human cloning. The Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester (Massachusetts) reported that it had successfully cloned human embryos by therapeutic cloning. The report on human embryo cloning was completed six months after the President’s Council on Bioethics analyzed, reviewed and deliberated on it.
Unanimously, the council ruled that reproductive Cloning to Produce Children was not Safe and should therefore be Prohibited by Federal Law.
Five major concern areas regarding reproductive Cloning were identified using the ethical principles respect for human dignity, free will, and equality. These are (Iltis72-73)
- Cloned children are able to identify and be their own person
- Perception of cloned child as an object
- New eugenics prospects
- Implications for the family
- Implications for societal values
To address the question of ethical principles, it is necessary to understand the causes behind cloning. The media is adept at creating misunderstandings and is the facilitator of confusion about replicating a clone. While there may be some good reasons for cloning, human cloning has become the most popular technology. It is an insult for God to create man by another man. Human cloning, therefore, will be opposed forever.
The main argument against cloning rests on the belief that it is not natural. Before cloning, there had been medical and technical interventions that were based on human reproduction. This included segregation between the sexes during the 1940s- 1950s and family planning in the 1980s. IVF and related assisted reproductive technologies, including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (and surrogacy) in the 1980s. Contraception and legalized abortions. Medicalization of pregnancy in the 1960s.
Contrary to cloning that forces the occurrence an unnatural reproduction event (cloning), these earlier interventions in reproduction work with and offer solutions for sexual reproduction. Cloning is a practice that violates a certain set of moral or social meanings. It is strongly contested.
The element of naturalness’ is valued with positivity and the element labelled ‘artificialness’ is less so. Cloning, which can be described as artificial, receives negative attitudes and reactions. This is the exact reason why moratoria have been articulately described. Many religious philosophers opposed cloning, saying that it is wrong for God to interfere with His creation.
Ethics for Cloning
Cloning may not become a widespread procedure. But it is a possibility for couples who can’t produce sperm and/or ovum. They could use it to have a child that is genetically similar to one of them, without needing to use sperm donor or sperm donors.
People’s attitudes lead to the belief that reproduction will remain sexual. It is cheaper, simpler, and more enjoyable. These couples are most likely to resort to cloning if they are extremely needy or desperate for a child. However, proponents do not believe that it is necessary to deny these couples the option. Contrary to most people’s belief, cloning a child would bring joy to such a couple (Human genetics alert 8).
The National Commission for Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research established a range of ethical principles to guide the conduct of biomedical and behavioural research. Cloning uses medical procedures and technology. Because of the possible psychological and genetic effects that may result, professional care must be provided.
Numerous embryos that are created through nuclear transfer don’t go through normal development. Dolly’s case was an example of this. 277 attempts had been made. Around 5% has been the highest reported success rate for this process. In the majority of cases, the success rate is lower than 1%. Even after many attempts, it’s still difficult to clone animals such as dogs or primates (Human Genetics Alert 2).
Loned embryos usually die in the early stages embryonic development or will spontaneously abort after the full gestation period. As we have seen, most clones, regardless of their being born, die very soon after birth due to the different physiological and anatomical issues that are unique to each species.
Scientists say reproductive cloning offers some benefits. One of these benefits is the possibility to create animals with specific qualities through reproductive cloning. In this way, it could be possible to create drug-producing animals in large quantities or modify the genes of animals so that human diseases can be studied. Reproductive Cloning allows for the repopulation and breeding of endangered species as well as animals suffering from breeding difficulties.
Gaur, a wild and endangered ox, was first endangered animal created. It was achieved in 2001. In the same year, scientists from Italy successfully created a healthy, endangered sheep species called the baby mouflon. While reproductive cloning has its benefits, the ethical questions surrounding it are equally important.
Cloning, which can affect many aspects of society like religion, is a serious issue. It is covered by rules and regulations that protect the rights to life and create. Life is precious. It should not be treated like a property that can be easily bought and sold.
This is exactly what cloning does. It involves objectification, co-modification, and treating animals and humans as simple machines that can easily produced. Cloning is also thought to cause more problems for animals (Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production para. 11-15).
The media has reported on the progress in cloning. It suggests that cloning is used to produce “armies… of programmed killers”, copy academic geniuses or athletes, and recreate loved ones who are already dead” (Kass 23-60). Clones of human beings are thought to be exact copies of their donor organisms. In terms of nuclear genes, it is incontrovertible that human clones have identical genetic makeup.
But, when it is about twinning, as is the case for natural monozygotic Twins, there are many other factors involved than simply identical genes. A clone differs from its donor in terms its personality and character because of its environment and the conditions that have shaped its life. The human cloning process does not involve the sharing of genetic material. If the donor organism is prone to a particular disease, it is possible for the clone to contract the same.
Cloning should therefore not be considered as an alternative to dying or suffering from terminal illnesses. Cloning will pass down terminal diseases to the clone. The ecosystem’s natural process of procreation is sufficient to maintain balance (Kass 23-60). This approach poses a moral problem because the clone loses its autonomy. Many people think that a “clone” is the same as a “cloned person”, and thus, are linked to giving the donor an opportunity to live a second life. However, in reality, this is not true.
Once a person has passed away, it is impossible to replace them all. Despite the fact cloning has certain traits and genotypes that are persistent, it does NOT allow for reproduction (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 629-641).
The creation of a gene twin, whose delineation is an aspect of somatic cells nuclear transfer cloning, can be both frightening and fascinating. Schwartz (195-206), a historian, stated that different cultures have enjoyed the intrigue of identical twins.
The reason this fascination exists is simple. One witness to the encounter with identical twins will see how distinct they are both in personality and in person. Observing identical siblings on the one hand is fascinating because of the resemblance. It makes one wonder if the twins would have the same abilities or personality. Human intuition says that personality and body are always connected (National Bioethics Advisory Commission, 629-641).
Reproductive Cloning is tied to an instinctive fear of multitudes similar bodies. Each of these bodies houses personalities that are thought to be less unique, less distinct, or less autonomous than the average (Schwartz,195-206).
Identity and Individuality for Cloned Children
Cloning human beings violates individual freedom. If an individual feels like he/she’s a genetic copy of another person (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 627-94), he/she may be subject to intense, compelling pressure to change into that person.
Cloning is now prohibited due to the risk of developing abnormalities in cloned animals. Even though homozygous pairs share the same genes, their genomes are unique and distinct. Each person has the right of a unique, unrepeated genetic blueprint.
Inability to make decisions on your own is associated with restricted life options due to self-imposed constraints and expectations from others (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 629-641). The fear of human cloning resulting in less-than-autonomous children is strong. This is because the creation of cloned soldiers led to a decrease in physical and psychological autonomy.
The ideal parenting idea is one that values both the differences as well as the similarities between parents and children. This kind parenting is associated with teaching and care which leads to serendipitous, as well general, developments in their children.
Someone seeking a clone will have a misunderstood mentality about a child. The parent-clone treats the child clone as a exact copy of themselves and won’t appreciate its uniqueness. Contrary to “good parenting”, which is defined by a strong parent/child relationship, cloning is incompatible with unconditional “love,” acceptance, and openness.
Evidently, parenting exercises some control over offsprings through different means like contraception. But reproductive cloning on one hand is seen to have full specific control over not just a child’s development but also his/her genetic makeup. This allows reproduction cloning to be viewed as a manufacturing process.
Cloned children can be created based on the donor’s choice and purpose. Thus, they are synonymous with manufactured objects which are designed to serve a specific purpose. But procreation produces unique individuals with special skills. Cloning is a great way to provide a child for parents who are unable to have children. However, the child cloned will never be as good as the child that was created through procreation.
Both animal and human cloning are against the natural law. Human beings have made it their business to create. This is contrary to religious ethics. God is and will always be the sole Creator. Critics of the practice of cloning think that it’s a way of playing God. Kass’ argument is that genetic novelty and uniqueness, which are evident with sexual reproduction, is extremely important.
Cloned children are able to see what they should do if they are raised by their clone parents. They feel great pressure and have to live up to the expectations. The cloned child is denied the freedom and uniqueness necessary to be the best version of himself/herself. For example, if a sports star is cloned, the cloned child would hope that his/her replica of him/her would reflect those characteristics (Kass 23-60).
Because it psychologically decreases the infinite potential of new human beings and can also exacerbate the desires to have children, human cloning would lead to the end of natural procreation.
A great ethical concern is the possibility that some human clones might be created using cells obtained from individuals without their permission. Informed consent does not mean that a physician doesn’t respect an individual’s right of privacy and reproductive freedom. (Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs Opinion 808). This ethical principle means that cloning should only be done after an individual consents.
Reproductive cloning can be considered an invention. It is incompatible with most of the ethical principles that govern human research. Human cloning involves two parties: the donor as well as the clone.
Cloning may cause serious physical harm. There are strong cases that support reproductive cloning. However, it should not be a problem to apply the injunction principle as defined by medical ethics or political philosophy. This is evident in both the Hippocratic code and the Nuremberg codes, 1946-49.
But, the risks that reproductive cloning presents to the foetus or the child’s health are much greater than the benefits (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 629-641). :
Before we know whether or not it will succeed, the first transfer of an embryo (into a female uterus) to a human clone (embryo), will occur. Some believe that the first transfers are unethical, as they involve experimentation on the child. One is potentially leading to a child with developmental and disability.
The latest research on mammalian embryo cloning suggests that some defects that are normal during reprogramming will not be visible until much later in the lives of the produced animal. Dolly’s case is an example. She was suffering from lung cancer, and had severe arthritis (Will You Follow the Sheep 69/72). Some defects go unnoticed and result in unanticipated and spectacular deaths.
Each living being should be unique. Animal cloning and human cloning seem to contradict this principle. This is because this technology disregards diversity and ecosystem survival. Contrary to the natural relationship between people and nature, cloning encourages the destruction of evolution. This natural process has been shown to increase survival instincts by living organisms via diversity and makes them stronger.
Human cloning sees women as biological functions that only provide ovary and womb. This process destroys all basic relationships associated with conception and birth. After human cloning proves successful, the definitions of parentage and parenthood will drastically change.
Human cloning is destroying the element that makes up human dignity. This is due to changes in human treatment and perception.
Human cloning is against human rights as per the Universal Declaration on Human Genome and Human Rights. Reproduction should be a natural process of sexual reproduction that involves two factors (a man and a women). The invention of human embryo cloning has changed this to an asexual mode of reproduction. It involves one factor. This controversial change is expected to provoke more discussion as it is feared by some that human cloning might reduce sexual reproduction and make it more like a manufacturing process.
Human cloning has no respect for human life if one assumes that human life begins at conception. Lawrence Nelson is an adjunct associate professor in philosophy at Santa Clara University. He supports this predisposition, implying extracorporeal embryos deserve respect for the simple fact that they have human life. Too many embryos from human beings could be destroyed or created in order to find a successful clone.
Implications on Social Values
If human cloning were allowed across the globe, it would lead to disruption of the interconnected web between “social values”, institutions, and practices that support the healthy growth, development, and well-being of children (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 629-641).
Human cloning might change one’s attitude towards their children. Instead of being based on the ability of a child meet parental expectations, it would shift to the ability of a parent to clone them. This ability would make parents more likely to love their children than who they really are. Loving, loyalty and nurturing are the core values of natural parenthood. However, in a world where cloning is possible, these values will be replaced by vanity, avarice and narcissism.
The human ability to produce/create living creatures would make man omnipotent. This would be contrary to highly held religious beliefs which recognize God as the only Omnipresent Being. Cloning human embryos would increase the problems of scarce resources. Cloning relies on the few researchers and clinicians available, which would make it more difficult to meet the most serious medical and social needs.
Individuals as Objects
Cloned children might be considered objects. Being a mere object means that one cannot reach their full potential because they are subjected to pressures from others. When we talk about objectification, we mean the tendency not to respect an individual’s well-being or desires. It’s a control of an individual, rather than engaging in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Alternatively, human-cloning treats the clones as commodities, which means they can be easily sold, bought, or traded on a market. Cloning, in contrast to other practices like genetic screening or gene therapy is intended to benefit only the nucleus donor. A cloned baby is considered an object because of its diminished physical uniqueness.
The introduction of eugenics was seen as a step forward in selective breeding in agriculture. Eugenic programs simplify genetics in so far as determining human traits or characteristics are concerned. However, very little information is available about the correlation between genes, successful, and rewarding lives.
The insignificant information suggests that genes and environment interact to produce successful and rewarding characters. Cows are bred to increase milk yields and sheep to produce fleece-softer sheep. But, it would be unjust to breed superior humans.
This practice would show humanity’s disrespect for life and God’s creation of the universe. It is not uncommon to see science fiction dictate the creation of a superior human. This is a grave consequence. The American public is famous for its eugenic concepts, which were engineered scientifically and politically, but which became a nightmare in Nazi Germany (National Bioethics Advisory Commission 627-94).