For as long as our species has existed it has been plagued with disease, deformity and death. Our adaptive nature, and advanced mental faculties have thrust us above other species with which we share this planet, and has allowed us to be successful in most every environment we have braved, even those in which no life naturally dwells. Most of our technology has been devoted in one way or another to the struggle for survival firstly, and then to the maintenance and improvement of our lives and the lives of our descendants.
It should come as little surprise then that we are often approaching new breakthroughs in Medicine and science. And today is no different, as a vast new frontier is opening itself before us, one of such medical advancement that it will help to solve many of the worst problems we humans face. But there are those who reject this progress, and for whatever reason reject the relief it could lend to so many of the children and parents who would reap the benefits of new medicine.
Now this is not to say that some of the objections are not valid, scientifically and ethically, but these should be explored and accounted for in practice, and should not cause the whole of cloning technology to be abandoned. Steps must be taken to ensure the safe and responsible research and implementation of such science, but are minor when compared to the benefit we can garner. Indeed, the institution of responsible cloning technologies will be one of the most important medical developments in human history.
Still, many reject these new prospects for reasons both religious and secular. Some state that the implementation of cloning technologies is playing God and is ignoble no matter how righteous the cause might be. Others worry about the possible ramifications of man controlling with choice what was once purely chance. Many worry that the technologies could horribly alter human society, or violate the taboos of nature itself.
Foremost among the objections against cloning are those predicated on faith. One such objection specific to the Christian religion is that cloning violates certain religious laws regarding the birthing of a child between married partners, or contend that the creation of a person genetically identical to another would somehow cheapen the fact that we were all created individually from the image of God. A separate objection, one specific to the Jewish faith, has to do with human destiny, and the possible implications cloning could have regarding individuality and destiny (Bainbridge, 2003). While it is not within the scope of this essay to criticize anyones religious convictions, it can argued that religious tradition specific to certain faiths can not be seriously considered when deciding public policy if there is no secular, ethical merit to the argument. Many people in the world have different faiths which hold different views on the subject of cloning, and a technology capable of so much good cannot be discounted for the sake of a few of those traditions, however noble their intentions. So towards this purpose, being that it is not meant to offend any religious sensibility, this essat will discount out of hand any religious argument that does not also contain secular, ethical content. Another objection often raised by religious objectors has to do with therapeutic cloning, namely those that have to do with the use of embryos. This is a murky area ethically speaking, and deserves inspection. Often times, religious institutions regard human embryos as living beings, and as such find the idea of their exploitation despicable. However, this only serves to obfuscate the real issues at hand. It may seem callous to some, but if a cluster of parasitic cells, without the ability to feel or recognize pain, can be utilized to ease the suffering of aware human beings and babies yet to be born, it is worth it. It is at least as ethical, if not more ethical, than animal testing, which is never brought to task by the people who discourage the development of cloning technology. In short, the suffering caused by such technologies would be minuscule when weighed next to the suffering it could prevent.
But it is not only the religious who have questioned the idea of cloning. There are many ethical questions of a secular nature, which must be considered when exploring the possibility of this new science. Most notable among them is the issue that has been raised regarding the success rates of cloning, which are currently no higher than %2-3. Being that humans, and mammals in general are harder to clone, this number would be even lower utilizing current techniques. It is contended that the research necessary to develop techniques of reproductive cloning would cause unneeded pain, as ninety or more children out of a hundred would die during the gestation process or of infection shortly after their birth (Cloning Fact Sheet, 2006). This is a valid ethical concern, based on the infancy of the technologies we currently possess. Is a technology, which would require the deaths of hundreds of harvested babies worth it? The ethical concerns raised are very valid, but there are misconceptions involved in this notion, and shortsightedness. Some academic supporters of cloning and stem cell research contend that with experimentation, the margin of error can be reduced to the level of miscarriage (Human Cloning, 1998). Such an objection also ignores the utility of such technology outside of the realm of strict, reproductive human cloning. Therapeutic cloning utilizes only embryonic cells created from the DNA of a person, which can then be harvested as stem cells to create new organs compatible to the patient, or for use in other medical procedures, which require stem cells. Cloning research could also offer valuable insight into the causes of miscarriage and help to further develop in vitro fertilization. So even if cloning were rarely, or never used as an answer to infertility it could do unquestionable good for people, and still serve to give children to parents who otherwise cannot birth their own.
Another valid concern, which is more technical than ethical, is related to the use of cloning to create livestock, which meets certain needs regarding size or even taste. Some fear that if such livestock was widely used that there would be a lack of genetic variability, and that disease could wipe out entire herds of such animals, crippling food sources for whole regions (Team 24355, 1998). But this is not a reason to disregard cloning and it’s uses. Such concerns must be brought up so that scientific institutions can address them, and so that solutions can be created and implemented. The disease resistance of the animals could be bolstered to help prevent disease, or some mechanism of artificial variability could be introduced. There are always answers, the worst of which would be to simply not utilize that facet of the technology in so widespread a manner as it would require to cause food shortages; a relatively small sacrifice pertaining to only one of the many benefits to be gained from cloning technology.
Others fear that cloning is tampering with what is natural, that it oversteps its bounds. But cloning utilizes the natural reproductive process of cells. It is no more unnatural than creating plastics, which do not occur naturally. Nor is it any less natural than organ transplants which are not natural occurrences, but which utilize natural phenomena (Team 24355, 1998). While the alteration of superficial characteristics in a child, such as hair and eye color, may seem trivial it should be noted that there is nothing unethical about the procedures in and of themselves. And these very technologies could be used to bolster a child’s resistance to disease, eliminate dangerous defects, and provide a far happier, healthier life for the child. Ethically, it seems far worse to doom a child to disease and deformity in order to maintain some reverence of the natural, than to devote research into technology that can spare lives and heartbreak.
Some other objections border on science fiction, and are a real insult to the scientific profession and to humanity as a whole. To suggest that there is a genuine possibility of males being phased out via genetic reproduction, or that a genetic underclass of people might be created is as alarmist as it is absurd. Though humanity has been capable of atrocity, what possible purpose does it serve to deny humanity freedom from the ravages of certain diseases and early death when the objection is in essence no more viable than the plot of a pulp science fiction rag. Some say that a clone might become a slave, which is ludicrous because the creation of clones creates a being no different from a regular human, and to own one would be no different from slavery. A good deal of these objections to cloning, which are not those taken most seriously by others luckily, are affronts to reason and/or are based on ideas which are simply not true. It has even been suggested that clones might have the same personalities and talents that the person it’s cloned from does. But there is no scientific data to suggest that DNA is what determines talent, or that two genetically identical children would find the same things interesting or pursue the same activities. While these are just a few of the more ridiculous objections to cloning, it shows overall that there are only a few valid, objective arguments to be made on the issue. And those, which are valid, are matters to be addressed when implementing the technology, not reasons to abandon it.
There have been many objections to cloning since it was first conceived in theory. It has been fictionalized in dozens of dystopic science fiction tales. But the science of cloning has become a reality, and despite many reservations in the minds of the public, it is a science, which must be pursued. All of those objections with ethical validity should not be conceived of as damning cloning, or dismissing it’s possible uses. Instead, they can help to influence the necessary guidelines for the responsible implementation of this wondrous medical technology. People are right to ask questions which pertain to the suffering of human beings, and these questions can be answered. Cloning can be done responsibly, and given this it would be negligent not to pursue a technology, which could, directly and indirectly, change the face of modern medicine for the better.
Bainbridge, William Sims PhD. (2003). Religious Opposition to Cloning. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from Journal of Evolution and Technology vol. 13.
Web site: http://jetpress.org/volume13/bainbridge.htm
Team 24355 (1998). Reaction: Misconceptions. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from Conceiving a Clone. Web site: http://library.thinkquest.org/24355/data/reactions/misconceptions.html
Team 24355 (1998). Con: Anti-Cloning Research. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from Conceiving a Clone. Web site: http://library.thinkquest.org/24355/data/reactions/cons.html
Casey, Dennis K. et al. (2006). Cloning Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from Human Genome Project Information. Web site: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml#risks
Emig, Mary Rose et al. (1998). The Religious and Ethical Debate. Retrieved April 30, 2006, from Human Cloning. Web site: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~jones/tmp352/projects98/group1/ethic.html
Cite this Medicine and Science: Disease, Deformity and Death
Medicine and Science: Disease, Deformity and Death. (2016, Jul 12). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/medicine-and-science-disease-deformity-and-death/