Cloning

This essay has a total of 3147 words and 11 pages.

Cloning


Shortly after the announcement that British scientists had successfully cloned a sheep,
Dolly, cloning humans has recently become a possibility that seems much more feasible in
today's society. The word clone has been applied to cells as well as to organisms, so that
a group of cells stemming from a single cell is also called a clone. Usually the members
of a clone are identical in their inherited characteristics that is, in their genes except
for any differences caused by mutation. Identical twins, for example, who originate by the
division of a single fertilized egg, are members of a clone; whereas nonidentical twins,
who derive from two separate fertilized eggs, are not clones. (Microsoft® Encarta® 97
Encyclopedia). There are two known ways that we can clone humans. The first way involves
splitting an embryo into several halves and creating many new individuals from that
embryo. The second method of cloning a human involves taking cells from an already
existing human being and cloning them, in turn creating other individuals that are
identical to that particular person. With these two methods at our desposal, we must ask
ourselves two very important questions: Should we do this, and Can we? There is no doubt
that many problems involving the technological and ethical sides of this issue will arise
and will be virtually impossible to avoid, but the overall idea of cloning humans is one
that we should accept as a possible reality for the future. Cloning humans is an idea that
has always been thought of as something that could be found in science fiction novels, but
never as a concept that society could actually experience. Today's technological speed has
brought us to the piont to where almost anything is possible. Sarah B. Tegen, '97 MIT
Biology Undergraduate President states, "I think the cloning of an entire mammal has shown
me exactly how fast biology is moving ahead, I had no idea we were so close to this kind
of accomplishment." Based on the current science , though, most of these dreams and fears
are premature, say some MIT biologists. Many biologist claim that true human cloning is
something still far in the future. This raises ethical questions now as towhether or not
human cloning should even be attempted. (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). There are
many problems with cloning humans. One method of human cloning is splitting embryos. The
main issue as to whether or not human cloning is possible through the splitting of embryos
began in 1993 when experimentation was done at George Washington University Medical Center
in Washington D.C. There Dr. Jerry Hall experimented with the possibility of human cloning
and began this moral and ethical debate. There it was concluded that cloning is not
something that can be done as of now, but it is quite a possibility for the future. These
scientists experimented eagerly in aims of learning how to clone humans. Ruth Macklin of
U.S. News & World Report writes, "Hall and other scientists split single humans embryos
into identical copies, a technology that opens a Pandora's box of ethical questions and
has sparked a storm of controversy around the world"
(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). They attempted to create seventeen human embryos in
a laboratory dish and when it had grown enough, separated them into forty-eight individual
cells. Two of the separated cells survived for a few days in the lab developed into new
human embryos smaller than the head of a pin and consisting of thirty-two cells each.
(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/) Although we cannot clone a human yet, this
experiment occurred almost two years ago and triggered almost an ethical emergency.
Evidence from these experiments received strange reactions from the public. Ruth Macklin
states, "Cloning is a radical challenge to the most fundamental laws of biology, so it's
not unreasonable to be concerned that it might threaten human society and dignity. Yet
much of the ethical opposition seems also to grow out of an unthinking disgust--a sort of
"yuk factor." And that makes it hard for even trained scientists and ethicists to see the
matter clearly. While human cloning might not offer great benefits to humanity, no one has
yet made a persuasive case that it would do any real harm, either."
(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). Theologians contend that to clone a human would
violate human dignity. That would surely be true if a cloned individual were treated as a
lesser being, with fewer rights or lower stature. But why suppose that cloned persons
wouldn't share the same rights and dignity as the rest of us? If and when cloning comes
about, will people be willing to pay anything for a clone of themselves? It is such a
costly form of technology. As we see with so many other aspects of today's socity, people
will do all kinds of things for money. (Will human cloning make a type of black market for
embryos could easily someday develop?) Parents already spend a great deal of money on in
vitro fertilization, and who knows how much they would be willing to pay for cloning their
children? The question as to what cloning would do to society from both the moral and
economic standpoints comes to the conclusion that for the most part cloning is too
expensive and too dangerous. In the religous circles the question of human cloning has
stirred debate. Rev. Robert A. Martin states: "It appears that from the beginning God
reserved for Himself the right to create living souls. I understand that the philosophy of
modern psychiatry is to teach that human beings are soulless, therefore we are just flesh
and blood which can only respond to the environment with no ability to make conscious
decisions for itself. In other words people are no differnet than animals to be used and
manipulaated. Thus, there is, from the beginnging, a fundamental difference between what
the Bible teaches and what psychiatry teaches. This being the case, it is little wonder
then, that some people assume the prerogative of playing the role of god."
(http://www.user.shentel.net/ramartin/applied/cloning.htm) Embryonic cloning could be a
valuable tool for the studying of human development, genetically modifying embryos, and
investigating new transplant technologies. Using cloning to produce offspring for the sake
of their organs is an issue that we must also face and question whether or not it is
morally right. No one will say that it is okay to kill a human being for the sake of their
organs. But will many have no objection to cloning thousands of individuals for the sake
of organ transplants? Technology seems to take away many of the morals that we have worked
so hard to install in society. Most people only seem to want to cater to their own needs
and do not bother to consider the consequences that society and the clone may have to
face. With the issue of parents' involvement in cloning, Ruth Macklin, writes, " Perhaps a
grieving couple whose child is dying. This might seem psychologically twisted. But a
cloned child born to such dubious parents stands no greater or lesser chance of being
loved, or rejected, or warped than a child normally conceived. Infertile couples are also
likely to seek out cloning. That such couples have other options (in vitro fertilization
or adoption) is not an argument for denying them the right to clone. Or consider an
example raised by Judge Richard Posner: a couple in which the husband has some tragic
genetic defect. Currently, if this couple wants a genetically related child, they have
four not altogether pleasant options. They can reproduce naturally and risk passing on the
disease to the child. They can go to a sperm bank and take a chance on unknown genes. They
can try in vitro fertilization and dispose of any afflicted embryo--though that might be
objectionable, too. Or they can get a male relative of the father to donate sperm, if such
a relative exists. This is one case where even people unnerved by cloning might see it as
not the worst option." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). Should we be excited at the
prospect of cloning? No more nasty surprises like sickle cell or Down syndrome-just batch
after batch of high-grade and, genetically speaking, immortal offspring! Cloning from an
already existing adult is a second method that we must consider when discussing the
cloning of humans. This type of cloning would no doubt be a very controversial issue any
way that it is looked at, but it is necessary to understand the two ways that it could be
done if we were to clone humans. Unlike the process of cloning embryos, cloning from
already existing humans allows one to know exactly what their clone will look like ahead
of time. Before the clone is actually produced, the parents or the individual's clone will
know exactly what to expect in their offspring as far as looks go. Personality and other
factors cannot be certain, but it is stated that if the clone is observed carefully and
compared with its other clones, many similarities will automatically arise. Cloning among
adults is less obtainable than embryonic cloning, but it seems to cause just as much
controversy. Embryonic cloning has not been successful yet, as far as we know. We do know,
however, that cloning from an already existing human may effectively work in the near
future. In a movie called, The Boys from Brazil, two clones of Hitler are supposedly
produced from a cell obtained containing Hitler's genes. This cell was in turn joined with
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