The controversy surrounding human cloning has recently received so much coverage, yet, unsurprisingly a thorough and clear examination of both sides of the debate has been missing from the news coverage.
Ideally, human cloning refers to an artificial process of developing a genetic twin of another individual. This implies one could become the parent of anybody’s twin. Scientists and researchers are either close at cloning human beings or have already done so. This process has already been made illegal or has been restricted to some extent in different countries; thus, the work of scientists on this issue has been greatly minimized throughout the world. Moreover, there has been a bit of legislation that supports the complete ban of human cloning, while a different side supports the process.
On the other hand, public opinion has been squarely opposed to cloning, though some academics have supported cloning as a process of radical reproductive autonomy. Nonetheless, if there is a time when the welfare and interests of youngsters should counter-balance the interests of prospective parents, it’s on the issue of human cloning. The dangers posed by this process are known, and the experimental utilization of cloning would create unjustifiable dangers to the children created.
Past the safety concerns are deeper moral objections to how the cloning procedure would change procreation into a manufacturing process. As ethicists have argued, it’s not a fallacious argument that the cloning process would inevitably create ‘faulty product.’ Rather, it’s an argument which the relationship between the offspring will be hampered by the way the prospective parents will perceive cloned children as properties to be controlled and shaped and rejected or accepted, rather than gifts that ought to be loved unconditionally.
What are the health risks?
Arguments have been raised regarding the health of cloned babies. An abnormal baby as a result of cloning would be a nightmare. Those opposing this process worry that the genetic components utilized from the adult will keep on aging so that the genes of the newborn could be, for instance, thirty years or even more on the day of birth. Attempts of animal cloning in the past has produced disfigured creatures with serious abnormalities. So this would imply creating cloned embryos, inserting and destroying the ones that appear imperfect as they develop in the womb. Nonetheless, some abnormities might not be visible till after birth. Recently, a cow died weeks after birth with great abnormality connected with the production of blood cell. In addition to that, a sheep died prematurely in 2003 after suffering from arthritis and severe lung illness. These conditions were all connected to the cloning process.
Even when a few cloned humans are born normal, we’ll have to wait for twenty years to be certain they do not suffer from any health complications – for instance, growing old too fast. Each time a clone is born, it’s a gamble, and even when a string of “healthy” ones are made, it won’t change the possibility that many cloned humans may have serious medical complications in the future. And of course, this only talks about clones that are successfully born. What about the disfigured and the abnormal clones that are either destroyed or spontaneously aborted by researchers and scientists due to the fear of the products they are creating?
Procurement of the human egg cells
Another argument against human cloning pertains to the acquisition of human egg cells. This aspect has raised a serious moral problem for this kind of research. The egg collection process poses health risks to the female, and the act of paying them for their eggs only results in exploitation of those who feel inclined to subject themselves to this sort of risk. A number of ethicists claim that compensation for oocytes is not likely to offer an undue incentive and that the compensation for the ‘inconvenience, discomfort and the time associated with the retrieval of the oocytes should be distinguished from what is paid for the oocytes themselves.’ However, cloning scientists have discovered that, without the compensation, they are not able to find enough women who are willing to offer their eggs for research. Obviously, money induces adult females who would otherwise not be willing to take part in the egg collection process, which explains why scientists are looking to reform laws that limit their ability to compensate women for their oocytes.
Opponents of human cloning have also identified emotional risks as reasons for not supporting this process. A baby grows up knowing their mother is their sister, their grandmother is their mother, and their father is their brother-in-law. Each time the mother looks at the baby, she sees herself growing up. The unbearable emotional burdens of a teenager trying hard to establish their identity. What happens to the marriage when the “man” sees the clone of his “wife” grow up into a replica of the beautiful eighteen-year-old he had fallen in love with some forty years ago? Of course, a sexual attraction with the wife’s twin would ensue, and technically, no incest is involved.
Or maybe the clone knows it’s a twin of a dead sister or brother. What sort of pressures will they feel, knowing they were a product of a scientific research process? This is an experiment doomed to failure since the baby won’t be identical in all ways, irrespective of the parents’ hopes. One major reason is that the clone will be raised in a highly abnormal household – one where grief has forced them into making a “replica” of a loved one who has passed on. The environment within the household would be entirely different from what it was before. This in itself, will put significant pressure on the child’s emotional development.
The risk of technological abuse
There are influential leaders in all generations who are looking to abuse the cloning technology for their own benefits. Proceeding with this technology only make this aspect more likely. You can’t have therapeutic cloning in the absence of reproductive cloning as the technique involved in creating cloned babies is similar to making a cloned embryo to produce replacement tissues. And at the rate at which biotech is moving, soon there will be other ways to obtain such cells – stem cell technology. It’s crude to make an embryonic identical-twin embryo to obtain stem cells to make, for instance, the nervous tissues. Even better, to take cells from an adult and trigger them to revert to a primitive form without ethical issues raised by implanting full set of adult genes into unfertilized eggs.
People who are for human cloning argue that it’s possible to produce more geniuses and thus improve everyone’s life through their contribution. Some also claim that the products of cloning can provide “spare parts” for those in need of transplants.
However, there is no proof that a person who is genetically identical or similar to Albert Einstein, for instance, would be a genius in the same capacity, or would utilize their genius for morally acceptable ends. Environment and upbringing, as ethicists claim, could turn this “Einstein” into “Hitler.” As for the issue of spare parts, it wouldn’t be more ethical to use a cloned human for such a reason than it would be to utilize an actual human.