According to the guardian (1), cloning refers to the production of an organism or a cell which has a nuclear genome identical to another cell’s nuclear genome. The genesis of cloning can be traced to 1950s when scientists started cloning frogs. Human cloning refers to the production or creation of a duplicate of a human tissue, human cell or human being. There are two kinds of human cloning and they include: reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning is aimed at making a human being through cloning whereas therapeutic cloning is the employment of cells from adult individuals for medical purposes. The possibility of cloning a human being started appearing in 1996 when researchers from Roslin institute in Edinburgh succeeded in the cloning of an adult mammal. Dolly, as the first mammal to be cloned was named, was cloned by the transfer of nucleus of the normal somatic cell into an egg whose nucleus had been eliminated. This approach is sometimes referred to as a nuclear transfer. It is feared that the same approach may be employed to clone human beings (Guardian, 3).
Stem cells refer to the cells present in embryos in their early stages. These cells have the ability to differentiate into all body tissues and researchers are optimistic that ability to direct these cells to develop into desired implants, which enable the treatment of many diseases. Presently the main source of these cells is discarded embryos resulting from fertility complications. Were it not for the ethical and other controversial issues surrounding human cloning, it would have provided a continuous supply of these for stem research (Guardian, 3).
Pros and cons of human cloning
The proponents of human cloning use scientific benefits that this new technology is able to give to justify their course of action. These benefits include, elimination of genetic disorders, enabling sterile couples to have children and possibility of creating donors to supply organs for transplant. Others have given the possibility to clone people who are already dead and those who are aging (Guardian, 3).The opponents of this technology and other related technologies do not overtly employ religious dogma in the justification of their opposition. Countries like America which are ruled or guided by a non-religious constitution should allow sectarian creeds to rule them. The opponents of biotechnology tend to focus on the dangers of human health and the environment, ecosystem, while the scientists carry out risk analysis to resolve any debate or issue raised. The opponents rely mainly on the belief and not on research findings. According to the new times (2) if a research concludes that GMOs are safe for use may satisfy traditional Christians in the city of Kansas in the united states , but will not be able to Stockholm’s post-Christians (Christians in the modern world) from doubting “Franken food” (GMO). Some key opponents of the human cloning research, like Leon Kass, claim that their business is not defending the belief of Judeo- Christians, but the dignity of mankind. Dr. Kass , one of the leading opponents of this technology in the united kingdom, claims that the book of genesis describes the special status of human beings. According to him, this special status should be heeded because of the ‘cosmological truth’ reflected by the message and not the basis of the biblical authority (New York Times, 2). Conservative members in the House of Representatives managed to pass a bill that was meant to ban Americans from leaving to going to foreign countries for treatment with treatments originating from the stem-cells through the cloning of employs. Fortunately this bill failed to pass through the senate.
According to the new York times( 2), Dr. Silver was of the view that post-Christians do not share the biblical believe that only God has the sole right to create a living beings hence they will not be worried on the of scientists playing God in the research laboratories. These articles by the New York Times also indicated that people from different places like California, had voted in support of the cloning using embryos and have even volunteered in support of it. According to the Christian institute Magazine (5), both therapeutic and reproductive cloning methods result in the creation of a new life. Since life is considered sacred from the time of conception, hence the destruction of the embryos in therapeutic research for the purpose of obtaining cell for stem research is unjustifiable and amounts to killing. The prolife groups term this technological “cannibalism”.
Most scientists are against the use of human cloning for reproductive purposes. Among them is the British embryologist, Wilmut and Richard Gardner. Wilmut played a central role in the cloning of Dolly and Gardener was the chair of the royal society concern with human cloning. They both claimed that at present there are too many risks. According to professor gardener, the experience with animals has given a clear indication of the possibility of producing an individual with extreme deformities never witnessed before (Guardian, 4). Many religious organizations are of the opinion that human cloning may result in ethical issues like emergence of embryo black market, “designer babies” and the formation of a “genetic underclass” (Christian institute magazine, 3).
According to Kitcher (61) human cloning should be considered as either good or bad on the basis of the ultimate goal for which it is being carried out for. For example if it is aimed at producing a human being with certain characteristics, then it is wrong. But if it is aimed for medical purposes then it is justified. He employs three examples to drive his point home. One of these examples is the scenario of a dying child and the only treatment that could save his life is a kidney transplant with a ten year period. Unfortunately the kidneys from both parents are not compatible and it is rare to get individuals with compatible kidneys. Were it allowed to clone a brother, kidney transplant would have been very simple and very fast. The second case is that of a widow, who has lost the husband through an accident, her daughter is in comma and she has reached menopause. The question whether this widow could be justified to take an egg from a surrogate mother and a cell from her daughter to create a clone of her dying through a surrogate mother is difficult to give a direct answer (Kitcher, 64).
To the present time no attempt has been undertaken to practically clone a human being due to ethical and moral issues surrounding this issue. From the view point of the researchers, if well used the human cloning will have enormous benefits mainly in the field of medicine but if misused the consequences are unimaginable. From the perspective of the religious people and other opponents of the research practice, the approach is unacceptable and unjustifiable as it is seen as unethical under the religious believes.