¶ … cloning creating controversy among scientists, politicians, and intellectuals: reproductive (cloning to produce live humans) and theraputic (cloning to treat illness) (Kass). Reproductive cloning invloves creating an embryo and transferring it into a woman's womb, where it goes through normal pregnancy and is birthed (Kass). Theraputic cloning invloves growing an embryo until stem cells can be extracted (about a week), extracting the cells, and destroying the embryo afterward (Kass). I believe that both types of cloning should be banned for one main reason: it is ethically problematic to allow both types of cloning, while it is ethically unproblematic to ban both types of cloning.
It should first be explained why theraputic cloning should be banned. The primary reason is that the allowance of theraputic cloning will lead to a situation where cloning techniques are perfected and thus safer (Kass). This will make it more likely that people interested in cloning babies (reproductive cloning) will succeed (Kass). Rifkin refers to this as a "slippery slope." What he means by this is that once one kind of cloning is allowed and legally justified, proponents of cloning will then be compelled to attempt to justify the next kind of cloning, then the next, to end in full-scale, corporate controlled and patented reproductive cloning. Rifkin illustrates the "slippery slope" with the question: after justifying using a twelve-day-old cloned embryo for harvesting cells, what is to stop cloning advocates from justifying harvesting organs from a 5-month-old cloned fetus?
It is also true that clones used for theraputic cloning would be killed after their cells are harvested, which is unethical (Best). Best also purports that it is not ethical to view a human being, no matter what its age, as a means to an end (as it is in the process of theraputic cloning), or to substitute one life for "the real or potential benefit of others." She adds that human embryos are still human, and that experimental research on human embryos should benefit no one other than the human embryos themselves.
Some justify the need for theraputic cloning by citing that it reduces human suffering and could possibly save lives. However, the benefits of theraputic cloning can be achieved through alternative methods. Blackwelder purports that a stem cell "which can turn into every tissue in the human body" has recently been found in adults. Kass states that embryo cloning is not the only way to obtain stem cells. Likewise, Rifkin states that there have been very promising studies and clinical trials in which stem cells were safely taken from individuals after birth. Given this information, there is no logical justification for placing ourselves in the moral quandry created by theraputic cloning. Moreover, allowing theraputic cloning would be to create a gateway to allowing reproductive cloning. Since the beneficial effects of theraputic cloning can possibly be achieved by other methods, as studies have found, there is not an ethical problem with banning theraputic cloning.
But why are we so concerned with banning reproductive cloning? There are plenty of reasons. Kass states that reproductive cloning is problematic because it "confounds" the child-to-be's identity and as such threatens his sense of individuality. What he means by "threatening his sense of individuality" is that a clone child would, first and foremost, be a living experiment (Blackwelder). No one should be the subject of an experiment without their consent. Moreover, to treat a person as an experiment is to objectify them and thus call into question their humanity. And this situation would exist for the entire duration of the clone's life. The clone would quite possibly be a social outcast or spectacle, living his life under the constant eye of the media, the public, academia, and scientific organizations. A clone's individuality would also be under question because of the clone's very nature: a human whose characteristics and traits were manipulated before birth to produce a predetermined outcome, thus making her more of a "product of will" than a human being (Kass). Finally, cloning a human for the sole purpose of harvesting organs makes the human a "product," and altogether negates her human identity (Fitzgerald).
Allowing reproductive cloning could lead us into a morally devoid, frightening world. To allow it would be to possibly steer our world in a direction toward "genetic control of offspring and the routine use of nascent human life as a mere natural resource" (Kass). A world that could treat human life as "a mere natural resource" could then logically be capable of destroying that resource if it was defective or unnecessary. It also logically calls for the buying and selling of humans, as that...
Rifkin reports feeling similarly; he believes that cloning could lead to a "new form of bio-colonialism" in which corporations control the evolutionary process itself. The implications of such a world are worrisome: international biotech companies owning all the designs, parts and processes that produce a human life, babies designed in advance according to specifications, then bought and sold in the marketplace, entire races of genetically designed super- and sub-humans to be purchased in bulk and used for whatever the buyer wanted. Potentially being bought and sold on the black market, clones could be used for any number of things (Kass).
The implications extend to the societal mind frame, as well. If we allow cloning, we will become desensitized and indifferent; we will lose "our awe and respect for the mystery and wonder of emerging new life" (Kass). If we clone we will shirk all respect for nature and for the billions of years of evolution that shaped all life on this planet into what it is today. If we allow this in society, a multitude of other grievous things will become justifiable by the same principle. Cloning represents a move toward viewing humans as objects or commodities to be bought and sold (much like slaves), which will lead, societally, to the devaluation of human life, which in turn could lead to grave humanitarian consequences (Rifkin). Corporations that have patents over the cloning process could also justify patenting the clones themselves. They could genetically modify clones, selecting them for certain characteristics, then sell these clones by the hundreds or hundreds of thousands to whoever might need them.
Cloning will also lead to immediate human rights issues. Best believes that women will be exploited if cloning is allowed; a large amount of women's eggs are needed to create human clones, and to meet this demand, corporations will encourage the use of superovulatory drugs and invasive procedures. Women living at low-income levels will be influenced by monetary rewards for putting themselves in potentially damaging situations (Best). Moreover, Blackwelder reports that Ian Wilmot, the developer of the cloned sheep, Dolly, has stated that all clones suffer abnormalities. If human cloning were allowed, they would possibly live their lives suffering from migranes, arthritis (as Dolly does), or any unknown number of symptoms.
With all these potential, resulting disasters, why should we allow cloning? Blackwelder argues that the potential risks far outweigh the benefits, especially taking into consideration that we do not have enough information to yet allow cloning. "The rapid development of new technologies," he says, "the... stakes involved... The failure to analyze environmental implications... all indicate the need... To ban the creation of full-term human clones." He argues that the pace of technology is outpacing that of public discourse, creating the potential for unmitigated scientific efforts with disasterous consequences. Adding even more, he argues that cloning represents a new kind of pollution -- "biological pollution" -- which will propogate the spread of articifial genes and unnaturally cross species barriers. In other words, clones would be "non-native species," which have, historically, devastated native flora and fauna and have been enormously costly and very difficult, if impossible, to stop (Blackwelder). Cloning, he says, violates the "precautionary principle," which states that if we are to impose a new technology or risk on society or the world, we should have a "solid grasp" of it. Cloning violates the "precautionary principle" because it presents a significant risk to the environment, to human life, and to society, and we certainly have not understood all there is to understand about cloning.
The "precautionary principle" is really what makes the case for a ban on cloning. There are too many risks involved, and we don't know enough about the science yet. Cloning could move us into a "eugenic world," as Kass puts it, with humans being patented and literally bought and sold on the global marketplace. It would undoubtedly create more human suffering than currently exists, as we know that all clones suffer from abnormalities. It creates the potential for the exploitation of woman through the use of hazardous drugs and invasive procedures. Moreover, cloning represents a new kind of pollution, biological in nature, that threatens to cause serious, irreversible damage to our ecosystems and gene pool. Since we have seen that allowing theraputic cloning would be to create a gateway to a society that allowed…
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