Issue Report: Ban on human reproductive cloning

Should human reproductive cloning be banned and punishments leveled against it?

Naturally, human clones exist as a pair of identical twins, arising in the course of early reproduction from a split of a single fertilized egg. In a sense, identical twins are one human physique provided for two people both sharing the exact genetic make-up, which along side their unique environment and experiences results into who they are individually. The debate on human cloning and its position in modern society only became loudly contentious after the public introduction to Dolly in 1997, the first sheep clone that was successfully brought to term by a group of Scottish scientists from Roslin Institute. Since then, human cloning that was once thought impossible became a viable technology, and the debate has focused on ethical implications of the technology: whether it should be allowed, and a further refinement of the debate, in which circumstances should it be allowed. As human cloning, in theory, is producing an exact genetic duplicate of either a human cell, tissue, or reproductive (in which a cloned embryo would rise into becoming another human being), the different arguments both for and against human cloning vary according to the level of human cloning that is being discussed. There are general principal arguments against any act of human cloning, deeply rooted within the more religious community that is against any form of direct meddling of human creation and technology that is seen as ‘playing God’. Medically, human reproductive cloning is seen as a possible means of child bearing for some infertile couples, though not without its fair share of criticisms, mostly because of the low success rate and the possibility of hundreds of ‘flawed embryos’ being discarded in the process. Socially, the possibility of bringing forth another human being that is the exact copy of another human being, blurs the definition and scope of individual rights, because these human clones, if brought to term, will never be like any other human being with a proper lineage, nor would the clone be anyone’s child, grandchild or sibling, but he or she would only be, scientifically, someone’s clone. Pertinent questions that arise in human reproductive cloning debates, among others, are: is human cloning safe? Is it fair to clone humans? Does cloning undermine individualism? Is human cloning means playing God? Is human cloning compromises human dignity? Is human cloning within parental rights? Will human cloning reduce genetic diversity? Popular opinion and weight of arguments seem to be against human reproductive cloning, mostly because of ethical and safety issues, with many calling for the halt of research in human reproductive cloning. Whether or not popular opinion is the best stand for this controversy is addressed by attempting to answer the above questions and to conclude whether or not human reproductive cloning should be effectively banned.

Clone: Is cloning fair to cloned humans?

Human cloning violates the rights of the child to parents

Statement of the Catholic Leadership Conference on Human Cloning. The Catholic Leadership Conference. November 1, 2001

“In the case of reproductive cloning the engendered child would be brought to term and delivered without the benefit of parents since it would carry the genetic code only of the one who had supplied the DNA from his or her somatic cell. This would also constitute a violation of the rights of the child in many ways. Since there is currently no basis in common or statutory law to determine who would have responsibility for the care of the child, it would be left in a precarious position.”

While illegal clones should have rights, a ban is still justified

"Human Cloning: What’s at Stake". The Center for Bioethics and Dignity. 2004

“All human cloning—all creation of new human beings by asexual processes—should be legally prohibited. Yet even with proper laws in place, it is likely that someday someone would break the laws, creating and bringing to term a cloned human, or perhaps several such persons. It is important that we acknowledge in advance their human dignity and fundamental rights.

But the likelihood of such a birth by no means suggests that this demeaning practice should remain legal. Why not?

At the deepest level, cloning should be prohibited because it turns procreation into a species of manufacture. It treats a child-to-be as an object of production.”

Human cloning produces sub-humans without ordinary souls.

Human cloning produces individuals artificially. As such, these individuals cannot have ordinary, God-given souls. Sadly, therefore, clones are sub-humans.

Scientists want to create a race of clones to experiment on

"The Ethics of Human Cloning". The Christian Courier. April 30, 2001

“One must first raise this question? Why do scientists want to clone human beings? It certainly is not because they are anxious to generate a larger population for our planet. They continually protest that the earth is over-crowded already. Rather, they are anxious to create a brand of humans with whom they can experiment.”

People want to clone humans for their organs

Rabbi Shraga Simmons. "Cloning". June 3rd, 2008.

“the potential for abuse is enormous. The most frightening idea is “growing” humans in cages, in order to “harvest” their bodies for spare parts. It is not far-fetched to imagine an unscrupulous multi-millionaire cloning himself in this manner — in case he should ever need a kidney, heart, eye, bone marrow, etc.”

Deformed clones would still be happy to be alive

Nick Bostrom, Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University. "Human Reproductive Cloning from the Perspective of the Future". December 27th, 2002

“Such an imaginary point-of-view can help us put things in perspective. There is one argument that, as a future clone, you might understand and agree with: concerns about the safety of the procedure. The argument that we ought to postpone human cloning until we have perfected the method in animals makes some degree of sense. (Even so, suppose you were a slightly deformed human clone – would you agree that it was a terrible moral offense to have caused you to come into existence?)”

Cloned humans have a soul and are ordinary humans in every way

"The case for cloning humans". The Age. January 1, 2003

“But what of the souls? Can two people share the one soul? Is it not wrong to force two personalities on to one piece of divine substance? Again, the fact that there are identical twins counts against there being a problem. Twins seem to manage, and that seems to suggest that each person is able to be ensouled regardless of their genetic make-up. That is, assuming souls exist at all. These days theologians don’t make a big thing of the soul. But even if there are souls, it seems unlikely to count against cloning. It’s hard to imagine that God would have any difficulty telling the difference between one clone and another, or in ensuring that each person has a distinct soul – if that is how it works.”

Cloned humans should have equal rights

Brendan Tobin of the Irish Center for Human Rights, an author a UN report on cloning: “Failure to outlaw reproductive cloning means it is just a matter of time until cloned individuals share the planet. If failure to compromise continues, the world community must accept responsibility and ensure that any cloned individual receives full human rights protection. It will also need to embark on an extensive awareness building and sensitivity program to ensure that the wider society treats clones with respect and ensure they are protected against prejudice, abuse or discrimination.”[1]

Clones are not good or bad; they have the potential to be either

Rabbi Shraga Simmons. "Cloning". June 3rd, 2008.

“So… is cloning good or bad? Judaism says there is nothing in the world that is inherently good or evil; there is only the potential for good and evil. Even something we typically associate as “bad” – for example, outrage – can be used for good – outrage against injustice. Similarly, even something we typically associate as “good” – for example, giving – can be used for bad – over-giving, or smothering. Talent, education and wisdom only have potential.”

Clones' quality-of-life depends on how they are received/treated

If clones are treated poorly by society, they will lead less happy lives as others. If they are treated well, they will likely lead equally happy lives as normal people. Because their happiness will depend largely on how we receive them, we need only adjust our attitude to be more receptive. Banning cloning because we will mistreat them is not fair; it punishes clones for our failures.

Clone safety: Does human cloning encounter safety problems?

Cloning technology is unsafe for the resulting life

The nuclear transfer technique that produced Dolly required 277 embryos, from which only one healthy and viable sheep was produced. The other foetuses were hideously deformed and either died or were aborted. Moreover, Ian Wilmut and other commentators have noted that we cannot know whether clones will suffer from premature ageing as a result of their elderly genes. There are also fears that the reprogramming of the nucleus of a somatic cell in order to trigger the cell division that leads to the cloning of an individual may result in a significantly increased risk of cancer.

Human cloning results in the death of many cloned babies

John Kilner, president of the Centre for Bioethics and Human Dignity in the United States – “The majority of published research shows that death or mutilation of the clone are the most likely outcomes of mammalian cloning”[2]

Pushing forward with human cloning violates the precautionary principle

"Why Environmentalists Oppose Human Cloning And Inheritable Genetic Modification". Friends of the Earth. Retrieved June 3rd, 2008

“Why Environmental Groups Oppose Human Cloning. While all of us seek to improve the quality of human life, certain activities in the area of genetics and cloning should be prohibited because they violate basic environmental and ethical principles – principles that form the core values for which the environmental movement stands. Precautionary Principle – The precautionary principle is a cornerstone of environmentalism. It requires that we have some regard for the consequences of our actions before we carry them out. In this century alone, the list of unforeseen and unintended consequences of modern industrial civilization is enormous; so is the attendant economic and environmental damage. The unforeseen and devastating consequences of the use of CFCs, DDT, and PCBs illustrate the need for this underlying principle.”

Cloning is safe enough to perform on humans

Pamela Schaeffer. "Special Section: Human Destiny. Many oppose human cloning". National Catholic Reporter

“Many non-scientists assume that cloning humans will be too difficult and risky a process to attempt on humans. But Silver challenges the “muddled thinking” behind such arguments. Despite early hurdles, experimentation with cloning is moving ahead.

In early October, for instance, a dozen cloned Holsteins were introduced at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis. The reaction was curiosity more than shock. “We just wanted people to realize that [cloning] was moving very rapidly from science to a commercial technology,” Michael Bishop, vice president of research for De Forest biotechnology company, told a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We want to show that [the calves] are normal, healthy and growing, and there’s nothing to be afraid of.””

Medical advancements once feared are now accepted; cloning is the same

"The case for cloning humans". The Age. January 1, 2003

“Whenever a new possibility comes along we tend to oppose it. IVF was opposed; surrogacy even more so. But we have come to accept both. In the case of IVF, there were similar fears about the risk of harm to the child – and we have come to live with the actual results. So it might be with cloning. What at first seems unthinkable might turn out to be a blessing for some or a possibility for many.”

Opponents exaggerate the impact that cloning will have on the world

Nick Bostrom, Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University. "Human Reproductive Cloning from the Perspective of the Future". December 27th, 2002

“In the big scheme of things, cloning will not significantly change the world. Some people will owe their lives to this technology, and some infertile couples will be grateful for having had the chance to raise a child of their own. Some people may misguidedly use cloning to try to bring back a lost child or a loved one, not realizing that personal identity is not reducible to genetic identity. Some people may choose to have a child that is a clone of a stranger they admire, perhaps a great scientist, athlete or religious leader; yet if the current level of demand for elite sperm or elite eggs is any guide, the people who choose this option will be in a tiny minority.”

Individualism: Will individualism be undermined by cloning?

A cloned human would have a diminished sense of identity/individuality

Instead of being considered as a unique individual, the child will be a copy of his parent, and be expected to share the same traits and interests, such that his life will no longer be his own. This is an unacceptable infringement of the liberty and autonomy that we grant to every human person. The confusion of the offspring is likely to be compounded by the fact that his ‘parent’, from whom he is cloned, will be genetically his twin brother or sister. There is no way of knowing how children will react to having such a confused genetic heritage.

Reproductive cloning generally diminishes human individualism

"Why Environmentalists Oppose Human Cloning And Inheritable Genetic Modification". Friends of the Earth. Retrieved June 3rd, 2008

“Today, we face another change — the radical reorganization of life at the genetic level. This could propel us into a “brave new world,” devaluing each individual and completing the divorce from nature that began a long time ago.”

Human cloning makes individuals replaceable

"Is Human Reproductive Cloning Inevitable: Future Options for UN Governance". United Nations University. September 2007

“Amongst the arguments raised against cloning has been concern that reproductive cloning would lessen the respect for individuals because of the feeling that they could easily be replaced.23 Every form of reproductive technology raises some question of human values, dignity, worth and juridical rights, some linked to the notion that the person should not be used as a mere mechanical instrument, and that every human individual is a non-repeatable being.”

Cloning does not xerox an individual; all individuals become unique

Pamela Schaeffer. "Special Section: Human Destiny. Many oppose human cloning". National Catholic Reporter

“Many scientists and ethicists caution, too, against “genetic determinism,” pointing out that environmental factors play a critical role in shaping human development. Michael Jordan’s clone, lacking the same drive and training, might not be a basketball star.”

It is a false requirement that clones possess individuality

Why should it matter that clones posses individuality? Do other humans have full individuality? Yes and no. Similar to clones possessing the genetic code of their parent, so too do normal ordinary children. And, in the same way that an individual is influenced and shaped by their parents, so too are clones. That clones have a fully individual identity is, therefore, a false requirement.

Individualism will be maintained despite cloning, as "clones" will develop their own unique identities:

Children produced by reproductive cloning will be ‘clones’ but not ‘copies’ of their parents: Different environmental factors, nurture, and the process of gestation mean that children will not be emotionally or mentally identical to the people from whom they are cloned. Furthermore, this objection would apply to all identical twins. A small proportion of identical twins do indeed suffer from psychological problems related to feelings of a lack of individuality. However, cloned children would in fact be in a better position than these monozygotic twins, as the clones will be many years younger than their genetic twins, which are of course their parents. They will not be daily compared to a physically identical individual, as there will be a gap between their ages, and hence psychological and physical characteristics, of tens of years.

Moral arguments against cloning are unfair to future human clones

How would you feel if you were a clone and society considered your creation illegal and your existence deplorable? Our of respect for human clones (human beings in every respect), a ban on human cloning should be opposed.

Playing God/nature?: Is human cloning playing God and/or nature?

Cloning plays against God's intentions for reproduction and family

It is not merely intervention in the body’s natural processes, but the creation of a new and wholly unnatural process of asexual reproduction. Clerics within the Catholic, Moslem and Jewish faiths have all expressed their opposition to human cloning.However, this objection to cloning is not specifically theological. David Hume, the eighteenth-century Scottish moral philosopher, warned us to heed our feelings as much as our logical reasoning. Leon R. Kass of the University of Chicago has stated in relation to human cloning, that mere failure to produce scientific reasons against the technology, does not mean we should deny our strong and instinctive reactions to it. As he states, there is a “wisdom in repugnance”.

Cloning undermines the natural relationship between procreation and family

Pamela Schaeffer. "Special Section: Human Destiny. Many oppose human cloning". National Catholic Reporter

“The Vatican opposes cloning humans, in part, because it is a means of reproduction that, like in vitro fertilization, does not derive directly from sexual intercourse between a married man and woman. In fact, more than any other reproductive technology, cloning threatens to sever the link between sex, marriage and reproduction, and to render the male role in reproduction obsolete.”

Asexual reproduction is sub-optimal for the human species

Dr. George Johnson. "Should A Clone Have Rights?". On Science. Retrieved July 9th, 2008

“Asexual reproduction, in which all offspring are genetically identical clones, is common in nature in both plants (dandilions are a common example) and animals (some lizard species have only females), but usually only in extreme or high-risk environments, where survival is uncertain. Nature has not favored asexual reproduction in any mammal because the 20% of variation due to nurture is just not enough protection against an uncertain future if you are going to make a major investment in each offspring. It is thus the very nature of our species that places such value on variation among individuals, and I find that the deepest and most compelling reason to carefully consider the implications of human cloning before proceeding.”

Human cloning divorces man from nature and natural processes

"Why Environmentalists Oppose Human Cloning And Inheritable Genetic Modification". Friends of the Earth. Retrieved June 3rd, 2008

“Today, we face another change — the radical reorganization of life at the genetic level. This could propel us into a “brave new world,” devaluing each individual and completing the divorce from nature that began a long time ago.”

This argument assumes that we know God’s intentions.

Evidently, there is no biblical statement on the ethics of human cloning. Who is to say that it is not God’s will that we clone ourselves ? At least one Hindu writer has indicated that Hindu thought embraces IVF and other assisted reproduction technology (ART). Moreover, every time that a doctor performs life-saving surgery or administers drugs he is changing the destiny of the patient and could be thus seen as usurping the role of God. Furthermore, we should be very wary of banning something without being able to say why it is wrong. That way lie all sorts irrational superstition, repression, fundamentalism and extremism.

Human cloning "plays God" less than lauded therapeutic cloning

"The case for cloning humans". The Age. January 1, 2003

“I mention God, and to some people it seems that God alone should have power over life and death. It is playing God for us to interfere in this way with the reproductive process. Such an objection may actually be the most powerful for some people. The sin of hubris – Icarus trying to be like God and flying too high – there has always been literature about the need to accept human limitations. The recognition of limits and acceptance of our destiny is an attitude we have admired and thought noble.

When it comes to playing God, stem cell research might be more of a problem. I refer to the cloning of embryos in order to harvest cells. God’s purposes for embryos may be presumed to include that of procreation. Whatever else embryos are intended for, one of their purposes is to make it possible for babies to be born. Cloning involves the use of advanced reproductive technology precisely for this purpose – to produce a baby. However, therapeutic cloning (for stem cells) is a matter of starting the reproductive process and then killing off the embryo so that stem cells can be collected. In which case, can we be said to be playing God? And yet there is widespread agreement as to the rightness of therapeutic cloning.”

Humans have the right to choose to practice cloning

"Why cloning people is a good idea". Everything 2. Retrieved June 7th, 2008

“Cloning is the freedom to choose. We have that right. The only ones out there who think we don’t are the theists, whose ideological basis is that they are slaves anyway to some invisible master. These people believe it is wrong to “create” life. We create life every time we plant a plant or breed livestock. We create life every time we mate, but that union’s outcome is random. Humans aren’t special. Our planet takes up such a tiny part of the universe and so many things could kill us off. We need every bit of luck and innovation to survive.”

Human dignity: Is human cloning contrary to the notion of human dignity?

Reproductive cloning undermines human dignity

‘Donum Vitae’, the declaration of the Catholic church in relation to the new reproductive technologies, holds that procreation outside the conjugal union is morally wrong. Many secular organisations, such as the WHO and UNESCO have issued statements that similarly find cloning violates human dignity. Assisted reproductive technologies might all be seen as challenges to human dignity, including IVF and sperm donation. However, human cloning is a completely artificial form of reproduction, which leaves no trace of the dignity of human procreation.

Reproductive cloning would entail dehumanizing experimentation

"Just Say No To Human Cloning". The Center for Public Justice. March 18, 1997

Let’s allow science to move forward. But let’s also recognize that science is not God and ought to be kept within bounds. It should not be treated as humanity’s savior. Human beings are not simply genes and molecules. The sanctity of human life should be protected in law. Humans should not be turned into an experimental playground.”

Human clones will be seen and treated by some as inferior

John F. Kilner and Robert P. George. "Human Cloning: What’s at Stake". The Center for Bioethics and Dignity. 2004

“Yet it is predictable that cloned children—as products of ethically dubious asexual reproduction—will be viewed by some as inferior, much the way that many people once looked down on children born out of wedlock.”

Why is sexual procreation more "dignified" than scientific procreation?

It is difficult to understand why the act of sexual intercourse that leads to sexual procreation is any more ‘dignified’ or respectable than a reasoned decision by an adult to have a child, that is assisted by modern science. The thousands of children given life through IVF therapy do not suffer a lack of dignity as a consequence of their method of procreation. The Catholic church regards every embryo from the moment of existence as a living person. This position is not shared by most Western governments, and it would deny not only cloning, but IVF and all the medical knowledge and benefits that have accrued from embryo research.

Eugenics: Will cloning lead to an unethical eugenics movement?

Cloning will lead to eugenics, or the artificial manipulation and control of the characteristics of people.

An American geneticist, Dr. Dan Brock, has already identified a trend towards ‘new and benign eugenics’ that is perpetrated by developments in biotechnology. When people are able to clone themselves they will be able to choose which type of person shall be born. This seems uncomfortably close to the Nazi concept of breeding a race of Aryan superhumans, whilst eliminating those individuals whose characteristics they considered unhealthy. The ‘Boys from Brazil’ scenario of clones of Hitler, the baby farms of ‘Brave New World’, or even the cloning or armies of identical and disposable soldiers, might soon be a very real prospect.

Dictators will use cloning to produce massive armies.

Cloning evil people will not result in evil clones

"Why cloning people is a good idea". Everything 2

“even if a person wanted to go and clone Hitler – let them. The Hitler they create would have only the tiniest chance in the universe, considerably less than winning a lottery, of turning out even remotely the same. The two Hitler’s wouldn’t look anything like each other – our clone might be short and fat, tall and thin, excitable or calm, determined by what childhood he led. His world outlook would have nothing in common with Hitler, and even if we force-fed him the same ideology there would be no guarantee he would accept it.”

Cloning leads to the commodification and manufacture of humans

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World – “Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!” The voice was almost tremulous with enthusiasm. “You really know where you are. For the first time in history.” He quoted the planetary motto. “Community, Identity, Stability.” Grand words. “If we could bokanovskify indefinitely the whole problem would be solved.”

Cloning will not lead to the mass production of clones

"Why cloning people is a good idea". Everything 2

“What about factory producing children? Long production lines churning out infants? Dream on fear-mongers. Cloning still requires mothers to bear the children to term. There is no such thing as an artificial womb. Furthermore, there are too many people on this planet now to even consider the vast population increases you are fantasizing about. Could Saddam Hussein clone an army? Yes, but it would be easier and cheaper just to hire one. He would need thousands of Iraqi mothers to bear children, who he would then have to house, feed and educate for 20 years before they would be old enough to fight for him. He’d be dead of old age long before and the issue in conflict long forgotten.”

Creating better humans through cloning is a good thing

"Why cloning people is a good idea". Everything 2

“And what about super-humans? What about them? Is it not infinitely better for the human race to be perfectly adapted to its environment than to struggle along hoping the next random sexual union will produce a wonder child? The endless game against nature would be mostly over. Diseases which have dogged us for generations could be wiped out due to our evolving faster than they could ever hope to.”

It is baseless that a dictator would build an army of clones

Nathan Myhrvold. "Human Clones: Why Not? Opposition to cloning isn't just Luddism--it's racism." March 14, 1997

“One recurring image in anti-cloning propaganda is of some evil dictator raising an army of cloned warriors. Excuse me, but who is going to raise such an army (“raise” in the sense used by parents)? Clones start out life as babies. Armies are far easier to raise the old fashioned way–by recruiting or drafting naive young adults. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori has worked well enough to send countless young men to their deaths through the ages. Why mess with success?”

All parents will not try to clone the same kind of individual

"Why cloning people is a good idea". Everything 2

“What about blue-haired blond-eyes? Well, personally, if I wanted to clone a kid there’s no way they would be Aryan. No Asian couple would choose the stereotypical Western child either. No Africans would go for that Caucasian look. The concept of everyone designing the same child is in itself ridiculous, as humans have a tendency to express themselves as individually as possible. A couple would design a child like no other. Having the freedom to create any child would enhance individuality creating more unique offspring rather than less unique ones.”

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