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Human Cloning Essay, Research Paper

Julie A. Hinson

Human Cloning: Morally Unacceptable?

When the President of the United States issued a ban on the cloning of a human being, many debates arose. Everyone has a different point of view on whether or not the ban is justified. Some experts believe that this ban is in the common good for the nation while others believe that banning such important research would be a travesty in the eyes of scientists. Each argument has its own valid points, but the ultimate decision for now has been made to restrict federally funded projects. Many scholars and experts share their viewpoints and arguments as the debate over this issue continues, but I feel that cloning is morally wrong and has too many risks involved to further in the research.

Human cloning is a very controversial topic as well as a tremendous breakthrough in today?s technology and science. There has been experimentation and successful cloning of mammals such as sheep, bovine cattle, and rhesus monkeys. Because of these discoveries, there is a belief that the cloning of a human being would be successful. If this were to occur, a clone would consist of an identical twin that is however many years younger than the person being cloned. Two sides of this discovery come into play. Can we allow science to change the world so drastically by actually changing the way human life is conceived? On the other hand, why should we stop such a monumental scientific discovery? These questions are what experts have been arguing about. Although I have a problem with creating human life unnaturally, I feel that it is each person?s decision to decide what side they are on.

The People?s Reaction

After the world found out about the successfully cloned adult sheep, many people became scared and confused about the nature of this research. Others felt that this was a great step in scientific discovery. There were threats that a human being could be created in the same way the counterfeit sheep was created. A Scottish embryologist by the name of Ian Wilmut, successfully cloned a lamb that was not only took after her mother, but was an exact carbon copy. The procedure for this is complicated, but is very possible to convert it to accommodate a human embryo.

According to an article in Time, a cell is first taken from an udder of the animal, then are placed in a culture where the cells are starved, and the cells stop dividing which switch off their active gene. Next, an unfertilized egg is taken from a different kind of animal, and the DNA is sucked out leaving an empty egg cell. These two cells are placed next to each other and an electric current is pulsed through them causing them to fuse together. A second pulse will fake a burst of energy that happens when fertilization occurs, and cell division begins. In about six days, the embryo is placed in the uterus of a different mammal, and after the gestation period, that animal gives birth to an exact replica of the other mammal (Nash 64-65). This process could very easily be replicated into the human embryos. According to Nash, ?The ability to clone adult mammals, in particular, opens up myriad exciting possibilities, from propagating endangered species to replacement organs for transplant patients? (63). This is how some people feel, but there are mixed feelings even with the pro-cloners. The author goes on to say, ?But it?s also easy to imagine the technology being misused…? (Nash 64). Some journalists have even had serious thoughts about ?virgin births, resurrecting the dead, and women giving birth to themselves? (Nash 64). Another author says that ?the study of cloning can give the world deep insights into such puzzles as spinal cords, heart muscle, and brain tissue that will not regenerate after injury, or cancer cells that revert to embryonic stage and multiply uncontrollably? (Krauthammer 61). These points show the monumental change that the clone of a human could bring. A radical idea is given by an anonymous author. This person raises the question of sex and its usefulness anymore. If cloning becomes popular in the next decade, why would there even be a need in sex? After all, ?It is much more efficient to clone an exact replica of oneself, or have a baby by virgin birth. And might not males become obsolete, or even extinct? (The New Leader 1). After this, everyone a person bumped into could be a potential partner (The New Leader 1). Although these may seem like radical ideas, all thoughts must be considered before taking such a giant step into the future with this technology. In another article that has interesting views as well, the author raises the question about what kind of people would want themselves to be cloned. Maybe the ?people who think the world could use more of them; people, in short, with high self-esteem? (Wright 73). He goes on to say that although the person would look exactly like you, who?s to say that they would act or think like you. This is where behavioral genetics comes in. Will the clone inherit the behavior as well as the looks? (Wright 73). An article, ?Will We Follow The Sheep?? raises many good points on if cloning were to become legal. Many scenarios have already come up since the information has spread about the discovery. If there was cloning technology in each hospital, just imagine some scenarios that could come in every day. Kluger writes,

?Some parents from the Midwest flew in specially to see if the (cloning) lab could make them an exact copy of their six-year-old daughter, recently found to be suffering from leukemia so aggressive that only a bone-marrow transplant could save her. The problem is finding a compatible donor. In nine months, the parents, who face the very likely prospect of losing the one daughter they have, could find themselves raising two of her-the second created expressly to help keep the first alive? (Kluger 69).

This dilemma would be faced very often if cloning became acceptable in the scientific community. Kluger goes on to say that just anyone could come into a cloning lab and request to have replicas of himself made just because he feels like it (70). How could this be feasible? With the overpopulation as it is, if some random person just felt like having another one or two of themselves running around, what purpose would this serve? According to the author, ?of all the reasons for using the new technology, pure ego raises the most hackles? (Kluger 70). Another question is the thought of using cloning to harvest organs. ?Nobody advocates harvesting a one-of-a-kind organ like a heart from a new child-an act that would amount to creating a clone just to kill it? (Kluger 70). Another scenario of cloning would be if a physics expert were terminally ill, and when he dies, a remarkable mind dies with him. By this technology, another scientist as gifted as he may one day live again (Kluger 70). In response to this, the author says that even if we could recreate the masterminds of the world, how would we know if they would follow the exact same track as the previous copy? ?A scientific genius who is beaten as a child might become a mad genius. An artist who?s introduced to alcohol when he?s young might merely become a drunk. A thousand track switches have to click in sequence for the child who starts out toward greatness to wind up there? (Kluger 71). There is another scenario about rulers of countries. If they feel that no one could do a better job, why not replicate themselves to take it over so they can pass on peacefully. ?This is the ultimate nightmare scenario. The idea of a dictator being genetically duplicated is not new? (Kluger 71). If rulers such as Hitler or Napoleon were duplicated, the effects would be absolutely unbelievable. This author sees both sides of the argument.

The decision to clone could go either way. So many wonderful discoveries could come about while so many disasters could pop up as well. In a poll taken by Time, the question ?If you had the chance, would you clone yourself?,? the responses were that only seven percent said yes, while ninety-one percent said no (Kluger 71). A different question, ?Should the Federal Government regulate the cloning of animals?,? was introduced. These results were that sixty-five percent said yes, while twenty-nine percent said no (Kluger 71). Another extreme columnist talks of how there is no chance of stopping the ball from rolling on the cloning of human beings. Kirkpatrick Sale believes that this being such an important advancement in science, there is no way that scientists will sit back and let the government stop such great discoveries (A35). ?The history of science is the history of the dominance of technology, establishing its own definitions and boundaries, over settled human societies and ordered human perceptions? (Sale A35).

There are many different arguments brought forth by all individuals. Each has their own warrant and good reason for their thoughts. Unfortunately, all cannot win in a situation that has only one outcome. When this vast information of new technology was released, some were scared as well as intrigued. Some think it is great, and some think it is absurd. Each must decide for themselves what their opinion is. For now, the leaders of our country have decided for us.

The Government?s Interception

When the news of the cloned adult mammal hit the White House, heads were turning, and decisions needed to be made. When this came to the President?s attention, The President consulted with members from the National Bioethics Advisory Commission. He called for a moratorium on the use of federal funds for this research, and he asked this Bioethics Committee to get back with him in ninety days with a decision. They missed the first deadline, and finally, the federal panel recommended to outlaw, for at least the near future, the cloning of a human being.

The actual hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Health and Safety of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources United States Senate was held on March 12, 1997. It was entitled ?Scientific Discoveries in Cloning: Challenges for Public Policy.? After looking at all the facts that had to do with the recent discovery, the committee finally came to the decision to ban federally funded cloning projects for three to five years, and submitted this to the President. A message from the President came later and announced the ?Cloning Prohibition Act of 1997.? This message was transmitted on June 10, 1997. This was transmitted for ?immediate consideration? (Clinton). This document states, “This legislative proposal would prohibit any attempt to create a human being using somatic cell nuclear transfer technology, the method that was used to create Dolly the sheep? (Clinton). He also inputs that there will be no restriction on activities that involve cloning molecules, DNA, cells, tissues, and animals. He adds that this will be up for reevaluation in five years.

Under this proposal, ?scientists would be barred from implanting a cloned embryo into a woman?s uterus? (McGinley B9). They decided that it would be ?morally unacceptable to attempt to create a child using somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning.? In their decision, they were very concerned about the safety of a fetus. Antiabortion groups feel that Congress should completely outlaw human cloning because it poses a threat of ?clone-and-kill? to a fetus (McGinley B9). Some heads of state feel that it is necessary to review the law very carefully before banning something that might ?deter or impede vital, ongoing biomedical research? (McGinley B9). Another article in Time reports on the President?s consideration of the banning. Christine Gorman, a columnist, feels that this will strike a national debate (66). The President made the decision to ban all federally funded research concerning the cloning of a human being. This did not include privately funded laboratories. Therefore, it is uncertain how affective this ban will be to the private sector of the community. ?In today?s political climate, research like this is a hot-button issue? (McGinley 66). Already, several committees in Congress have made requests to ask the Commission questions on their findings. A Congressman explains that these could be very heated hearings because ?It?s a question of where the pro-life movement wants to draw the line. If they believe that life begins at conception, as they do, this could, sadly, become a very contentious issue.? Although the Commission was presented with the issue that this could be some infertile couples only chance at having children, they did not feel that this was sufficient reason to break open this can of worms (McGinley 66). In an article entitled ?Republican Seek to Widen Cloning Ban,? it is made apparent that the Republicans are not happy with the President?s decision. Conservatives feel that a tougher law should be made to ?ban permanently not only human cloning for the purpose of reproduction, but also the use of cloning in the private sector to create research embryos not intended for implantation? (Wadman 748). A Republican senator claimed that allowing research to proceed on the private sector, is like letting them go as far as they want until it starts getting out of hand. One professor of law at Boston University claims that this law allowing the private sector to continue in experimentation would be awful on all sides for ant-abortionists. They would be allowing a scientist to create a research embryo, and then forcing him to destroy it (Wadman 748). This is the first time in the field of medical research that a law has prohibited the research (Kolata A35). A law professor at the University of Southern California says that this law is a battle on both sides. ?One side is those who stress ?scientific and reproductive freedom,? and the other side that emphasizes the ?sanctity of life and traditional family values?? (Kolata A35). Because of how many trials it took to achieve one successful sheep clone, the scientific community believes that it will be years before another animal, much less a human clone will be achieved. It is suspected by doctors that the first to break the decision of the prohibition would be the doctors dealing with in vetro fertilization because the clients would urge them to do so (Kolata A35). In vetro doctors deal with couples who are unable to have children. Some couples become so desperate to have a child of their own, they may resort to using impractical measures to create their own child. This is what the government is dreading. Most of these infertility clinics are privately funded, and if the clients pay enough, there would most likely be a clone created. An article in Science News explains that “a panel member from the University of Wisconsin-Madison says ?A motivated person and technician could collaborate at an infertility clinic to do this?? (Seppa 367). Another great point was raised by Ezekial Emanuel of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He says ?a child born of cloning would face ?an enormous weight of social and parental expectations about what and who that child should be?? (Seppa 367).

These arguments on the decision to clone are valid in their reasoning. The effectiveness varies in that the ban has already been passed. Those arguing that there should be no ban are wasting their breath. There is nothing that can be done about this prohibition for at least four years. Those who feel the ban should be widened have more effectiveness in that they agree with the ban, but feel it should be expanded to protect the citizens of the United States. As the debate goes on regarding this monumental decision to prohibit scientific research, it will not be dismissed that the government reacted quickly to a potential problem.

The reaction of the citizens of the United States and of the world when such a life changing discovery happens is very important. In order to keep from spreading chaos and panic, it is the government?s job to regulate potentially dangerous discoveries. Although there are arguments about government controlling research that could better our society, one must take into consideration the negative effect it could have on our society as well. The quick response of the community requires a quick response from the leaders of our nation. Although it is impossible to make everyone happy, it is possible to make everyone feel satisfied in their country?s concern for their safety. I agree with the President of the United States?s quick decision to prohibit the cloning of a human being. Although all parts of the Act are not in my complete agreement, I feel that with such little knowledge as we have of the situation, it was the only thing he could do without being too restricting or too lenient. In time, we will have the knowledge to make the correct decision that will make a majority of the population satisfied.

Bibliography

Julie A. Hinson

Annotated Bibliography

The annotated bibliography is very useful. This serves as a way for a reader to be close to the same level as the writer. To better understand what the writer is saying, these are very useful. Each source used in this bibliography will be used in paper four as well. These sources represent my topic well, and will give a better understanding on my focus and emphasis of paper four.

?Between Issues.? The New Leader. 80.3 (1997): 2.

This anonymous author writes about the affect human cloning will have on sex in the future. The author feels that with this new technology, there will be no reason to have a mate, because a clone would be a pure replica of the parent. There is a fear that sexual intercourse will be ended if the cloning of humans is started. The author says that sex may become a recreational pastime if there is no longer a need for it to procreate. Even though this does seem like a light-hearted subject, this is a very good point on the final affects of this technology. This would be used well in my paper to show different sides and anticipations on the subject.

Gorman, Christine. ?To Ban or Not to Ban?? Time 16 June 1997: 66.

The recent discovery of the cloned sheep ?Dolly? raised many questions in the White House. The President called for the National Bioethics Committee to give a report, and also called for a moratorium to decide on the use of federal funds to fund these experiments. The Bioethics Committee reported back that it should be a criminal offense to clone a human being. Many debates are expected to be an outcome of these decisions. In vetro supporters feel that this may be the only way an infertile couple might have a child. Pro-lifers feel that if a human embryo is cloned, it should be able to have a chance to live. The cloning debate is expected to continue through the next century, but there is still a chance that the ban will die in three to five years.

Kluger, Jeffrey. ?Will We Follow the Sheep?? Time 10 Mar. 1997: 69-72.

The debate over the new technology goes on. How should this be regulated? Kluger says, ?It will be up to science to determine if human cloning can be done. It is up to the rest of us to determine if it should be? (69). This sets the tone for the whole article. The author compares cloning to in vetro-fertilization and other experiments and wonders why these are acceptable if others are not. Many situations arise that cloning could be very useful. It could save lives, preserve knowledge, and prolong life. A poll was taken of over a thousand adults, and the odds for the pursuant of cloning does not look good. All these subjects must be taken into consideration before the final and permanent decision can be made.

Kolata. Gina. ?A Ban on Human Cloning.? New York Times 7 March 1997: A35.

A ban on human cloning was recently issued. President Clinton and congress feel that this is unethical. There still is hope for the scientists that want to pursue this study. Private research was not completely banned although it is strongly suggested that it should be. All federally funded projects concerning this subject have been completely stopped, and no more money from the government will be used to continue this. The ban will be reconsidered in three to five years, but for now, the science world has to suck it up and move on to other things. There is a fear about privately funded projects. If private scientists pursue this with their own funds, there is no telling what could happen.

Krauthammer, Charles. ?One Doesn?t Expect.? Time 10 Mar. 1997: 60-61.

Dr. Ian Wilmut was the first man to fully form life from adult body parts. When Wilmut first introduced his new discovery, the world was in shock over this. The author feels that the cloning of humans cannot be stopped. ?You can outlaw the technique; you cannot repeal the biology? (Krauthammer 60). Cloning is an easy process, and there are so many things that can be discovered if research were to continue. It can be both good and bad, but nevertheless, this cannot be stopped. A second existence can be possible, and if it is, it will happen.

McGinley, Laurie. ?U.S. Bioethics Panel to Recommend Ban on Cloning to Produce a

New Human Being.? Wall Street Journal 9 June 1997: B9.

A federal panel recently suggested the cloning of a human being be outlawed. The debate will not be ended, but scientists will be barred from implanting a cloned embryo into woman?s uterus. Although it is strongly frowned upon, this will not include privately funded researchers. Some feel that this ban will stop very important biomedical research if the bill is written improperly. Antiabortion groups want all human cloning stopped. If a human is cloned and then killed, this violates the beliefs of this group. The final decisions will be made later on in the month.

Nash, Madeleine. ?The Age of Cloning.? Time 10 Mar. 1997: 62-65.

This tool of genetic engineering can become very useful. Many different fields are opened if this actually works. From agriculture to breakthrough medicine, everyone could benefit. There is, of course, the fear that this wonderful technology could be misused. This is what has all the ethics people screaming. No one in Scotland, where the cloning scientist is from, are talking about human cloning. If this were to proceed, surrogate mothers would be needed to successfully finish the job. Since this is so new, problems with cloning have not yet been discovered. Any attempts to try and clone a human right now would be disastrous as well as unwise.

?Republicans seek to Widen Cloning Ban.? Nature 387 (1997): 748.

When Republicans heard of the ban that Clinton put on human cloning, some conservatives felt that the prohibition act should be much steeper. Republicans feel that any use of cloning for reproduction should be completely banned, even private research. The Cloning Prohibition Act has been drafted by Clinton and will enter into Congress soon. It states that anyone caught attempting to create a human being by way of cloning, would be fined at least $250,000. Republicans felt that this was to lenient if caught. All cloning experimentation should be stopped, according to the conservative party. This kind of research would do more harm than good.

Sale, Kirkpatrick. ?Ban Cloning? Not a Chance.? New York Times 7 March

1997: A35.

This well-known opinion writer tells that there is no way that Congress or the President has the power to stop such breakthrough technology. If cloning of a human being can happen, it will. There is too much interest in the subject to just let it go. This ban is the first ever on technological research. Sale feels that it will not hold up against all the criticism and debates. If private practices are still allowed, there is no way that there will be no human clones running around. This very strong opinion will prove to work well in my paper.

Seppa, N. ?Clinton Calls For Ban on Human Cloning.? Science News 151 (1997): 367.

United States. Cong. Senate. Committee and Labor and Human Resources. Scientific

Discoveries in Cloning: Challenges of Public Policy: Hearing. 105th Cong.,

1st sess. Washington: GPO, 1997.

The hearing of the United States congress was to talk about the recent breakthroughs in technology. The senator presents dialogue on how remarkable the discovery was, and that this subject needs to be given a lot of attention. When discoveries are first made, there is no time to sit back and think about it. Decisions must be made on how this situation will be handled. The hearing is designed to present the facts on this discovery, and later to come to a quick decision on how to handle the situation. Both sides are brought forth, and a legislative decision will be made soon.

United States. Message From the President of the United States. Draft Legislation

Entitled the ?Cloning Prohibition Act of 1997?. Washington: GPO, 1997.

The President composes a letter to the Congress of the United States, and tells of the Prohibition Act. He summarizes the act by saying that it will prohibit the reproduction of humans by cloning, but will leave the door open for review of ethical and scientific issues. The President goes on to say that this ban will not stop science from using the already used methods of cloning, and will be ready for reconsideration within five years. Following this letter is the proposed bill that is ready for consideration.

Wadman, Meredith. ?Republicans Seek to Widen Cloning Ban.? Nature 387 (1997): 748.


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