PureInsight | January 23, 2003
[PureInsight.org] Is human cloning a real possibility? Should there even be any human cloning? Since the birth of the cloned sheep, Dolly, during 1997 in Scotland, such questions have frequently been asked. On December 27, 2002, Clonaid, founded by the Raëlian cult in Florida, USA, announced the birth of a baby girl through asexual reproductive replication (i.e. "cloning"). Clonaid claimed that the baby was produced through cell fusion and electrical stimulation between the skin cell of a 31-year-old woman and an egg cell with its nucleus extracted. They then allegedly implanted the embryo produced by this method into the uterus of the surrogate mother where it developed until birth. The announcement caused even more questions from scientific organizations worldwide, as well as condemnations because of the morality factor. The issue is not if a cloned human baby was really born or if that company actually has the technical capability to replicate humans. The real issue at hand is that human cloning by itself is an offense to human ethics and morality.
We know that humans have not only physical human bodies, but also a spirit, thoughts, and moral standards and codes of conduct for being a human. Therefore, people may be joyous, angry, sorrowful or happy, and they have rationality. This is the fundamental difference between humans and animals. What if, in contradistinction to this, the "clone" produced through transfer of DNA only has a body, but no human thoughts and personality. This person would be like an empty shell with no soul. The so-called cloning technology only recognizes the physical matter of humans, but not the spirituality of humans. It simply takes a human as an object and has made people into subjects that can be controlled by technology. If it is allowed to proceed, it will continue its dangerous path until humans become products that can be replicated on a large scale.
In addition, it is not a desirable objective to transplant a patient with the organs from a cloned individual whose donor was found to have identical genes as the patient. A human being's life, even a cloned human being's life, should by no means be considered a consumable product. Even the embryo of a human at its earliest stage is considered to have life. Therefore, it is neither ethical nor moral to produce a human life for no more than its useful cells and then destroy it. All countries in the European Union agreed that no people, including human embryos, should be killed to save the life of others. Hubert Hueppe, a Representative from the Christian Democratic Union, a German opposition party, says that human cloning is in some sense no different from cannibalism. Even though the statement is somewhat exaggerated, cloning people just to provide body parts is to strip away the dignity of human lives and make some people slaves of others.
It is not only difficult to accept human cloning from an ethical standpoint; it is also worrisome from a technological viewpoint. Although cloned animals already exist, including cloned rats, cattle and pigs, it has been found that they often develop physical defects or experience premature senescence. The cloned sheep Dolly is the only success among 277 recombination embryo experiments. Cloning humans is far more complicated than cloning sheep, given that there are more risks associated with cloning and it also was found to have a greater failure ratio. Mr. Ian Wilmut of Roslin Institute, the "father of the cloned sheep," explained: "Once cloning humans becomes legal, many women will get pregnant, even given the risk of miscarriage at a later stage, and are willing to give birth to dead or deformed babies, for no more reason than to obtain one successful clone." Mr. Wilmut estimated that 50% of cloned babies would die in the uterus while 1/5 of those being born would face death at an early age. Given this, cloning people must be considered a criminal act. No one should be eager to have hundreds of human eggs, embryos and even fetuses face the danger of destruction. Just this one thing should be enough to make it clear that cloning humans is unethical. Furthermore, babies born through these technologies could face many nightmares after birth, such as handicaps, deformation, premature aging, ethical and moral issues and unimaginable psychological pressure. Making people take such risks would be the most unethical matter in the human history of medicine. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine stated, "Given today's knowledge, it is not possible to create a baby from cloning to birth."
Presently, only a few countries have enacted legislation prohibiting duplication of humans, including England, Israel, and Germany. Although the U.S. does not have a law prohibiting human cloning, President Bush has called on Congress to enact laws that stop the cloning of babies and human embryos for medical research. The Vatican believes that life begins at pregnancy and it condemns human cloning because many embryos will be destroyed during the process of cloning. The Vatican Institute of Life Science called for laws to be made to punish such violations against humanity, any attempts at this type of violation against humanity, and to prevent anything which my be construed to be similar in nature. Such laws would make people reluctant to perform such atrocities. The British expert on human replication ethics, Mr. Dickerson, promulgates that the international community should sign an agreement to ban replication of humans. He states that countries should cooperate at an international level in investigating scientists who want to do this when it is against human dignity and violates human rights. One should close all escape routes and leave them nowhere to hide. People do not have the right to do this in the name of scientific research.
2. "A Desire To Duplicate" NY Times magazine February 4, 2001