The Ethics of Human Cloning

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Prior to the 1990s, cloning was not well-known among the general public. This is because most successful experiments involved animals that were not mammals. However, these achievements were still significant in advancing mammalian cloning. In 1885, Hans Adolf Edward Dreisch successfully cloned a sea urchin using embryo twinning, which is a natural type of cloning that happens when a mammal gives birth to twins.

According to Royal (2009), the scientist separated the two-celled sea urchin embryo by shaking it, causing it to divide into two separate cells. Each of these cells then developed into an independent organism. In a similar manner, Hans Spemann, the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Biology in Berlin, used embryo twinning to clone a salamander in 1902. This time, the organism was more complex as it had a backbone, and the cells of the embryo were harder to split. However, Spemann successfully split the cells by fashioning a noose from a strand of baby hair.

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The University of Utah reported that the cloning was successful in the early stages of the embryo but not successful in a more advanced embryo. According to Royal (2009), the cloning of Dolly the sheep, which was more complex than Hans Spemann’s cloning, is considered one of the most famous cloning events in history and marked the beginning of the modern cloning era. However, creative media-driven discussions often lead to misunderstandings about the science and the individuals involved. In the movie “Multiplicity”, human replicas are portrayed, not clones in the context we are discussing.

Although the embryo possesses the identical genetic code as the cells of the cloned adult, the embryo goes through extensive developmental years in a differing environment compared to that of the adult’s development. Due to the significant influence of our environment and genetics on our identity, the embryo will not become an identical individual as the adult. Additionally, humans possess a spiritual capability to assess and modify both their environment and genetics, causing human clones to be distinct from the adults who donate their DNA (Kilner ,2002). The initial resolution presented by Costa Rica, with support from sixty-two other nations, aimed to prohibit all forms of human cloning.

The text examines the difference between “reproductive cloning” and “therapeutic cloning.” Reproductive cloning’s goal is to produce offspring, while therapeutic cloning endeavors to obtain embryonic stem cells for scientific exploration. Nevertheless, the text contends that there is no moral rationale for this differentiation. From a biological standpoint, human existence commences at fertilization when genetic material from both genders merges (syngamy) and persists throughout growth until advanced age.

The process of cloning involves placing a donor cell nucleus in an enucleated egg, resulting in the development of an embryo. The main point is that all forms of cloning result in reproduction. However, there is a question about how we perceive human life during this stage of development.

For Christians, this is not a problem because they believe that all human life, even at its earliest stages, should be respected and valued. This belief comes from the understanding that humans are unique creations made in the image of God and therefore have inherent dignity (Hensley, 2005).

According to Hensley (2005), most research scientists are often disconnected from the medical field’s focus on clinical ethics and human subject research.

Scientists have conducted extensive research on animal embryos to enhance their comprehension of numerous developmental aspects, such as nuclear programming, inheritance patterns, and tissue/organ growth and maintenance. Despite being used for experimentation purposes, animal embryos do not fall under the category of “animals” and are thus exempt from Animal Care and Use Guidelines.

The oversight of animal welfare is limited to adult animals involved in the production of embryos or serving as hosts for experimentation. This viewpoint is also supported by scientists studying human embryos, who support research on them (Hensley, 2005). Although adult stem cells currently offer more clinical benefits than embryonic stem cells, regenerative medicine and stem cell transplantation are still in their early stages.

It is crucial for the bioethics community to establish a moral foundation regarding stem cell research. The superiority of adult stem cell research over embryonic stem cell research should not be taken for granted. Thankfully, both the research field and medicine have demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing ethics over convenience. If scientists and medical researchers find something to be unethical, they are ready to opt for more intricate alternatives.

In the past, certain studies involving animals were seen as ethical. However, due to growing awareness about animal welfare, some of these research practices are now limited. A notable advancement by ACT demonstrates that scientists are able to create a human embryo through cloning using somatic cell nuclear transfer. Additionally, they can induce the development of an embryo-like entity by stimulating a human egg without fertilization or the use of foreign DNA from sperm, a technique called parthenogenesis (Hensely, 2005).

Parthenogenesis can be achieved by either stimulating a very early egg, which has twice the usual number of chromosomes, to develop into an embryo or by inducing an egg at a later stage to double its genetic material and then stimulating it to develop. The potential benefit of cloning and parthenogenesis is the creation of genetically matching cells that can be used to produce regenerative tissues for treating degenerative diseases in patients. (Jones, 2001)

According to Jones (2001), “therapeutic cloning,” distinct from reproductive cloning, involves creating embryos specifically for harvesting their stem cells in a destructive manner. This method allows for the production of genetically compatible stem cells that can potentially be used as a remedy for various ailments, such as diabetes and neurological diseases. However, this process involves creating and subsequently terminating embryonic clones.

According to (Jones 2001), the term “procreation” is not coincidental. It signifies that when we have babies, we are doing so “for” someone or something. We bring forth new human beings, but the true significance lies in doing it “for” a purpose. Specifically, we fulfill God’s mandate to humanity, stated in Genesis 1:28, to “be fruitful and multiply.” Additionally, we create for the individuals whom we assist in bringing into existence.

We assist in giving them existence. They are the ones who bear the greatest impact from our actions, even more so than the rest of society and even more so than ourselves. What makes this “procreation” significant is that it is a creation that is inherently controlled by an external agenda, primarily God’s agenda, and secondarily by considering the needs of the child being brought into being. In this sense, only God assumes the role of Creator – the only being capable of creating something from nothing (“ex nihilo”) without any influence from external sources.

Many individuals contemplate the potential applications of human cloning technology. One possible use is the treatment of heart attacks. Scientists posit that they could potentially aid heart attack victims by cloning their healthy heart cells and introducing them into the damaged regions of the heart. Cloning has the potential to address numerous health issues and has even resulted in a groundbreaking discovery involving human stem cells.

The potential of using embryonic stem cells to generate organs or tissues for repairing or replacing damaged ones is immense. It could involve producing skin for burn victims, brain cells for individuals with brain damage, spinal cord cells for those with paralysis, as well as hearts, lungs, livers, and kidneys. By combining this breakthrough with human cloning technology, it may be possible to create tissue that will not be rejected by recipients’ immune systems, offering relief for those suffering. Human cloning also has the potential to help infertile couples conceive children more successfully than before. Additionally, it can significantly advance plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic procedures.

Recent developments in human cloning technology could potentially render silicone breast implants and other risky cosmetic procedures unnecessary. This groundbreaking technology allows medical professionals to generate bone, fat, connective tissue, or cartilage that precisely corresponds to a patient’s own tissues, thereby eliminating the need for synthetic substances. Nevertheless, the field of cloning and stem cells has encountered difficulties due to deceptive assertions made by a biologist from South Korea concerning tailor-made stem cell lines and the birth of a cloned infant.

The little boy who was cloned is now approximately 5 years old and we wish him success in kindergarten. Despite this recent scientific advancement, it should not be assumed that cloned infants will be accessible in the near future. Nevertheless, researchers have achieved the transfer of adult human cell DNA into a human egg and effectively reprogrammed the donor DNA to its embryonic state. As a result, gene activation patterns resembling those found in typical IVF embryos were produced, which is essential for embryo formation.

To summarize, if the study is proven, it indicates that there are no technical obstacles to reproductive cloning. This process entails producing human clones with the intention of procreating rather than solely utilizing them for stem cells. Nevertheless, after this announcement, various conservative Christian groups have accused Obama of misleading the public about his position on human cloning. They contend that he declares a strict stance when in reality he does not.

The president has the power to approve federal funds for somatic cell nuclear transfer, a cloning method. This technique is used solely for stem cell research and not for implanting embryos. While religious organizations argue that this is cloning, scientists disagree. They assert that as these cloned embryos are not placed in a uterus and have minimal potential to develop into viable fetuses, it should not be classified as human cloning.

Religious conservatives allege that Obama supports human cloning through funding somatic cell nuclear transfer, despite no creation of actual human beings. Obama will decide on embryonic stem cell research guidelines after receiving recommendations from the National Institutes of Health this summer. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Press suggests that Obama might endorse cloning if the embryo is subsequently destroyed, while opponents refer to it as ‘cloning and killing.’ Scientists contend that religious conservatives are creating public confusion regarding human cloning.

Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Bioethics, suggests that true scientists have no interest in creating human clones. Instead, those who express worry about this issue are actually critics of embryonic stem cell research using it as a means to critique the research itself. In his opinion, this matter is purely political and social conservatives are leveraging it to influence the guideline-drafting process of the NIH and White House. Consequently, there is an anticipation for increased intensity in the debate surrounding the definition of human cloning. Within conservative religious circles, cloned embryos with low chances of survival are often perceived as equivalent to human cloning.

Princeton University Prof. Robert P. George criticizes Obama’s restriction on human cloning, arguing that it incorrectly focuses solely on cloning for the purpose of human reproduction. In an email I shared on my God & Country blog, George, a prominent social conservative and member of Bush’s Council on Bioethics, contends that the term “reproductive cloning” is misleading. According to him, it does not refer to the act of cloning itself, but rather to the actions or intentions involving the cloned embryo, which is a human being created through cloning.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a conservative organization, initially praised Obama for opposing human cloning. However, they later withdrew their praise due to his refusal to eliminate federally supported somatic cell nuclear transfer. Contrary to media reports, Obama did not ban human cloning. In fact, during President Bush’s administration, he opposed Congress’s attempts to ban human cloning because they only targeted reproductive cloning while allowing somatic cell nuclear transfer. This process involves replacing the nucleus of an egg cell with cells from the organism being cloned, resulting in a fused embryolike cell.

Scottish scientists successfully used somatic cell nuclear transfer in 1997 to create Dolly, the cloned sheep. This groundbreaking technique has the potential to produce stem cells for treating individuals with illnesses. Unlike using surplus embryos from in vitro fertilization clinics, this method minimizes the risk of rejection by the body. However, the successful harvesting of embryonic stem cells through somatic cell nuclear transfer has not been achieved yet. Nevertheless, medical professionals remain optimistic about this research.

Scientists have developed a technique to generate brain cells that possess the same genes as those naturally occurring in an individual’s brain. This involves extracting skin from the patient, which is then utilized to generate stem cells capable of differentiating into brain cells. As a result, previously unobtainable cells can now be examined within a laboratory environment, leading to significant insights into the person’s neurological state.

In the future, challenging organ biopsies such as the liver, heart, and other organs could benefit from similar techniques. At present, researchers are generating various brain cells using skin samples from individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar depression. The objective is to examine the impact of standard psychological medications, such as lithium, on these cells in a laboratory environment. Utilizing our selection of brain cell lines as testing platforms will facilitate the exploration of novel drugs. This research is projected to commence within a few years. Previously, scientists were limited to studying post-mortem brain tissue obtained from individuals with conditions like schizophrenia.

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The Ethics of Human Cloning. (2016, Oct 09). Retrieved from

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