"Animals that are experiencing dwindling numbers could be cloned to prevent their extinction. Taiwanese scientists claimed to have made five clones of an endangered pig to save this species" (Anonymous). While some say man should not play God there are others like Edmund Erde who disagree and say that "playing God" is a phrase that is "muddle-headed" and "nonsensical" and should be deserted (Edmund Erde, p.594). For those who voice their concerns that cloning should be allowed as every infertile couple too has a right to have a child, they should know that that "cloning is not inherently about infertile couples or twins, but about rights as persons that we grant any other human being; and that personal identity, human dignity, and parental responsibility are at the core of the debate about human cloning" (Howard B. Radest p.188). People often say that a government should not and cannot ban a person from reproducing and reproduction is their natural God given right. The opposition argues that cloning is replication and not reproduction and hence the government should ban cloning as it would mean that replication is banned not reproduction.
However presently human cloning can only be referred to as being a fantasy and it is long before scientists would reach a point where they would be successful in this field. The debate yet moves on to the stem cell researches that are conducted to make body organs from the purpose of transplantation. This type of cloning is commonly referred to as therapeutic cloning rather than reproductive cloning. Stem cells are also used for repairing the spinal cord as well as for the regeneration of body tissues when they are damaged. Scientists today are interested in the human embryonic stem cells, where the stem cells which have the capability of developing into many different cell types of the body are isolated from the embryo. These embryos are only a few days old and in some cases such stem cells are also developed from the fetal tissue which is more than 8 weeks old (Stem Cell Information). The Stem Cell research aims for the relief of humans that are suffering from a variety of symptoms. People however do not dispute over the aim but only over the means to achieve this aim. They ask if to ease ones suffering enables and gives him the right to kill human embryos. Many have already voiced against this and are seeking a permanent ban on such activities. It was seen in the Massachusetts Senate that stem cell research was to be allowed. The senators voted in support for the research program but banned human reproductive cloning. The Governor is likely to veto this and the opposition is seen to be much stronger in the House. The Governor is said to have expressed his thoughts regarding stem cell research in the words, "A genetically complete human embryo is brought into being. It is manipulated and experimented upon like so much research material. And then that emerging life is destroyed and discarded" (Jonathan Finer). However the same science which caused this concern amongst many has also provided a solution to this distress. Today there has been a success in producing embryonic-like stem cells using the umbilical cord blood.
A team of Texas and British researchers says it has produced large amounts of embryoniclike stem cells from umbilical cord blood, potentially ending the ethical debate affecting stem-cell research." (The Washington Times)
The Government of the United States during the Clinton administration voiced it concerns regarding human cloning. In a speech President Clinton is reported to have said "Cloning has the potential to threaten the sacred family bonds at the core of our ideals and our society...to make our children objects rather than cherished individuals" (Arlene Judith Klotzko p.90). This act stated that people are prohibited from knowingly performing or attempting to perform human cloning. It further stated that it is also unlawful for any person to be involved in the process of cloning. This included any participation in either "shipping or receiving an embryo produced from human cloning, whether the cloned embryo is to be used for reproduction or research." Simultaneously, another bill which was supposed to allow cloning for research but not for reproduction failed to gain enough support. It was rejected after a 231-174 vote defeat. "A similar bill to ban all cloning of human embryos is currently before the U.S. Senate, but it is not known when or whether senators will vote on it"(Cloning and Catholic Ethics). The United Nations has also expressed its concerns regarding human cloning and has asked all nations to ban all types of human cloning. United Kingdom and some other countries do not wish to ban all types of human cloning and want to allow the practice of human embryo stem cell research. Singapore is another nation against human cloning and has banned it, labeling it a crime which would put the offender in jail for ten years and he may also be fined for about $58,000. (Daily Times)
Although governments, citizens and other organizations are debating heavily over issues of cloning, it should be banned. People should realize that it is not humane to take the life of someone so that you can have an organ thus continuing your life. Governments should stop wasting their time in debates and should come forward with a strong stand on this practice being labeled as prohibited. Yet others who wish to create a 'second self' should know that it is not possible to do so. Similar genetic material does not mean that the clone is exactly the same in all respects. The clone will be under different environmental factor than the donor and hence will be psychologically a different person. Couples who wish to have a child should know that cloning is more of a replication rather than reproduction and hence should opt for other methods of assisted reproductive techniques like in vitro fertilization where the gametes are taken from the couple themselves rather than other people. Further to ensure that ecological imbalances are not caused due to transgenic animals escaping and interacting with their kind, cloning should be highly limited, at best, avoided.
While cloning is so strongly opposed by private citizens as well as some governments, cloning on the other hand is used in experiments where water quality is tested. A research regarding estrogens in water requires the used of cloned estrogen receptors to extract estrogen from water samples. Environmental estrogens can cause hormonal imbalances which can lead to producing harmful effects on the immune as well as reproductive systems thus causing sterilization and deformities in animals (Sea Grant Staff). Moreover increased genetic techniques are now available that can enable scientists to detect and recognize viruses, bacteria and contaminants in the water supplies. These techniques are cheaper and time efficient that the older methods.
Cloning has its benefits no doubt but the entire concept of it treating life without any respect is abhorrent. It can provide man with a lot of ease and relief it of the suffering that he would undergo otherwise but taking away life to preserve yours is a selfish act and should not be practiced. There are people who actively support the act of cloning whether therapeutic or reproductive however there are others who wish that such acts were never discovered. Religiously inclined people hold the latter view whereas some atheists and secular people are of the former view. The secular and atheists find no harm in creating embryos and using it to benefit other humans. The supporters of cloning also feel that cloning would give the chance to homosexuals to have children as well. However, they fail to realize human cloning is not reproduction and only a form of replication and taking away life to give someone pleasure is not serving humanity. Majority of people, nations and governments have realized it and banned human cloning. Only a few have allowed stem cell research but with the new scientific discovery which enables the same results with umbilical cord blood would soon solve this matter as well. Regardless of what people like Edmund Erde have to say, cloning humans or animals is simply man entering God's domain and trying to play God. It is about time man realizes that he cannot act in a selfish way for his personal gains and benefit nor should he try to play God and must therefore, accept laws that prohibit human cloning and abide by them. Cloning must be allowed only in limited ways with strict limitations and should not be performed frequently.
1) BBC - Human Cloning: Is Making People Wrong? [Online website] Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/ethics/cloning/clones.shtml[Accessed on: 07/09/2005]
2) Cat Lazaroff - Transgenic Animals Could Pose Environmental Threat. [Online website] Available at http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2002/2002-08-21-06.asp[Accessed on: 07/09/2005]
3) Staff Working Paper 3b - Arguments against "Reproductive Cloning" [online website] Available at http://www.bioethics.gov/background/workpaper3b.html[Accessed on: 07/09/2005]