Cloning and ethics

Cloning and Ethics

Cloning is a general term for the research activity that creates a copy of some biological entity (a gene or organism or cell). In medical science it is the process of taking cells from a donor, placing them in a culture dish where the nutrients are minimal, so the cells stop dividing and switch their "active genes". The cells are then put next to an unfertilized egg. The nucleus is sucked out of the egg leaving an empty egg cell containing all the cellular machinery necessary to produce an embryo. An electric shock is used to fuse the egg and cell together. A second shock is then used to mimic the act of fertilization and help begin cell division. After the egg has successfully moved to the stage of an embryo it is then placed in to the uterus of a surrogate mother. When born, all the genes are the same as the donor of the cell.

The lamb has always been a symbol of innocence. This changed abruptly in the spring of 1997. "Dolly" a barely three-month-old sheep, hit the headlines, displacing politicians and pop stars from the front pages of newspapers and magazines. Overnight, the fluffy white "lamb of innocence" had become a symbol of threat to human society through an eerie new technologycloning.

Dolly was a genetically identical copy of an adult sheep - a clone created successfully by a British scientist, Dr. Ian Wilmut. She was the first such clone of a mammal. The success of the experiment is considered by all as an amazing achievement in science. However, ethics and morals must surface to regulate cloning. It is understood that individuality is the most important part of life. Individuality is given to a person at birth and considered a right they will have for rest of their life. There is also a fear that the clone may only be produced to live the life of the clone, thus causing severe emotional damage as well pain and suffering for the clone. The progression of the clone may be limited; the advance in idea development will slowly die off. Evolution could come to a halt, because with clones, diversity will be limited and there will not be as many advances in society. The cells, in all humans, will all be the same and there will not be a process of natural selection and diversity.

Another controversial question facing the cloning process is: How will the clones be treated? The emotions of the clones need to be taken in to consideration; after all they are humans too. "What is common to these various views, however, is a shared understanding that being a 'person' is different from being the manipulated 'object' of other peoples desires and expectations"(Biomedical Ethics). People, as clones, will be studied, prodded, and poked which in turn will cause much unwanted anxiety and emotional distress. There will also be problems with relationships between parents and the clone for understandable reasons. It will bring up a lot of unwelcome stress for the clone when one "parent" is an anonymous donor of an egg and the other is Dr. Frankenstein. Some may argue that a child is a child and the parents should love their child unconditionally. However, the bond between the clone and the parents who care for the clone may have awkward encounters. The love and affection that is provided for most children will not be the same due to the fact that the clone is considered to be more of an experiment rather than a child. Another argument may be that artificial insemination has already taken the step of engineering babies. However, artificial insemination is used for parents who can not have children but feel they could provide a loving environment for them.

Despite the abundant differences and backgrounds of the world today all most people agree that coitus (sex), is the naturally preferred way to conceive a child. With the cloning process the necessity to have coitus will not be needed. "Is there something about the individual that is lost when the mystical act of conceiving a person becomes standardized into a mere act of photocopying one" (Time)? The parent's will not have to conceive a child, just order one from a catalog and have it arrive next day air. It will take away the personal feeling and romance that having "a child of your own" creates. Part of the bliss of having a child is the mystery behind it. Is it a boy or girl? Who does it look like? Cloning will take away from the pleasures that have been happening for countless years and the elements of surprise will fade in to mail order babies.

Another very touchy issue is the question of, is the medical world taking to much control? It is stated by scientists that if they are allowed to clone people, one won't have to worry about organ donations or blood drives in order for people to survive. The scientists will simply clone an organ and replace the faulty one in the human. As simple as this seems, the issue of who they can use to clone comes up. Finding the ideal person to clone is hard enough; now try to get one with the right blood type, size, and gender. The numbers decrease and it seems as if the scientists would have to clone someone for each person. If this is true, would the clones be stored somewhere, or able to roam around the world until they were needed to fill their role? Once again the rights of the clones come up and the thought of clone farms creates a sort of "yuck" factor for everyone.

According to Time Magazine, "Out of 277 tries, the researchers eventually produced only 29 embryos that survived longer than six days" out of the remaining 29 only one survived and was born. The percentage is very low leaving people wondering if it is even worth the time and effort put in. "Some clones may indeed be growing old before their time"(U.S. News). The research states that the clones will not live a whole life due to the one cell that has been cloned is older and effects the rest of the clones cells making them advance prematurely. Instead of using science to lengthen the life of a human cloning will decrease the length of life by half.

Scientists need to reconsider how they are manipulating the world. Based on the information provided through the research, doctors should step back and take a look at the morals and ethics of cloning humans and evaluate if it is really worth the risk doctors are taking.

Reference: - 'Morals and Ethics of Cloning'. - 'Cloning: Right or wrong'. - 'How Human Cloning Will Work'.

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