Term Paper: Morality of Cloning

Pages: 9 (3583 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Genetics  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] This is, of course, because genes which encourage preference for their own genetic contributions consistently reproduce more successfully and pass on to the next generation. So it is completely natural for individuals to prefer to give birth to their own genetic offspring and to children which share parts of the same genetic code. Cloning allows one to birth and parent a child that carries one's own genetic code, and therefore allows one to fulfill one's genetic need and desire to pass along one's one genes.

Idealist would of course say that such a contribution to the next generation should be made through sexual reproduction. However, in some cases this is either not feasible or not commendable. For example, one might consider the example of a mated couple who each carried a gene for Tay Sachs, and yet wanted to raise a family. Their choices are limited, and extremely poor. "They can reproduce naturally and risk passing on the disease to the child. They can go to a sperm bank and take a chance on unknown genes. They can try in vitro fertilization and dispose of any afflicted embryo... Or they can get a male relative of the father to donate sperm, if such a relative exists. This is one case where even people unnerved by cloning might see it as not the worst option." (Macklin, 51) In the first case, they risk killing their own child with poor genetic contributions. In the second, the two partners do not gain a child which is genetically related to the father (if they chose cloning they could take one male and one female clone). In the second case, they may have to agree to the killing of any afflicted embryos, which has its own moral problems. In the last case, they risk losing some parental rights to family members. With cloning, they could gain children that were biologically related to them, yet as disease free as the parents. Perhaps more importantly, these cloned children could theoretically be genetically healed of bad genes if the parents were given minor gene therapy and used altered cells to create the clones. "Cloning also brings hope to families with inherited genetic diseases by opening the way to gene therapy...age-old genetic maladies such as Tay-Sachs disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Huntington's disease could be eliminated completely from family trees." This is a use of cloning in which not having a "duplicate" would in fact be preferable -- the goal was to have children, not carbon copies. It is also an example of a case where one might consider cloning (or at least alteration) necessary if the couple wished to create a child who was not a carrier or a victim of this disease.

Other families could also benefit from cloning that might find no other avenues available to them which could allow for biological reproduction. For example, a man who was incapable of producing sperm (such as post-prostate cancer survivors) could not even choose in vitro fertilization, but could choose cloning if he wished to have a biological child with his mate. Likewise a woman who could not produce egg cells could carry her own biologically related child/twin to term. Cloning could allow women to have biological input into the future of the human race even when they chose not to submit to masculine standards of the patriarchy, and cloning might in fact help promote feminism and the right to biological reproductive choice. It could also allow gay and lesbians to have biologically related children. In all these cases the goal is not a narcissistic wish to reproduce the self, nor is it an unnecessary step towards reproduction. Rather it is a reasonable and one could argue ethical choice to enable people to fulfill their biological destiny and pass on their genes. It must be remembered that "current infertility treatments are less than 10% successful," and that already cloning in certain species is superseding that degree of success. As one advocate says:

Cloning yourself will not roll the clock back. It will not produce your soul mate and may not even give you your complete identical twin. What it will do is give you a baby that is more biologically related to you than anyone else. And that, says Silver, is why cloning will happen and few people will harshly judge those with infertility problems who choose it as a way to reproduce. 'It's instinctive, I think, to want to have a biological child. That's what cloning offers -- a chance for some people to have what they though they never could have: a child of their own."

If cloning does have a point, and is not merely a sort of vanity procreation license, then the more serious question arises as to whether it would be good for the children and good for society. One of the most serious concerns about cloning is that in its early stages it may cause hundreds or even thousands of deaths and children born with severe deformities, as in early animal trials. However, this concern can be bypassed with the understanding that arguments will only be set forth in favor of cloning if one assumes that it will not be undertaken before sufficient testing has proved it safe. After all, similar fears arose with in vitro fertilization, which currently produces healthy children. "Eventually animal research may indicate that human cloning can be done at no greater physical risk to the child than in vitro fertilization posed when it was first introduced," and it is at that point which cloning will be moral.

As for further harm that may befall the young clones, one may speculate that they cold live better than many of their peers. "Children produced by cloning will probably be extremely wanted children....[who will] experience the love and care they deserve." While some fear that kids will be forced to be just like their adult clone, many suggest that this is no different than the expectations on children today to be like their parents or siblings. "A ban on cloning wouldn't abolish pushy parents." However, cloning would be just as likely to provide a parent who deeply understood their child's developmental stages, needs, and desires in a way no other parent could.

Another argument is that cloning would undermine the uniqueness of every human being. However, this ignores the fact that even twins (natures clones) are usually unique. It also ignores the fact that clones would not be duplicates, as even anti-cloning advocates her repeated. Rather they would be individuals. Likewise the argument from reproductive diversity of the human race ignore the face that cloning is being suggested for small individuals or families, not for large groups, and that a slight increase in biological twins and triplets (even separated by the age of parental figures) would not significantly decrease the reproductive diversity of humans.

A final, strange and gory idea is that clones would somehow be an underclass used for experiments, brute labor, and organ harvesting. However, this fear fails to take into account the simple fact repeated in almost every reading: clones would just be humans, born into the world like anyone else, with the same aging attributes and abilities. They would be no more likely to be made a victim of a blood splattered underclass than any other category of people, and perhaps less likely to do so as they would be most likely situated in a wealthy enough home to provide the procedure. "Clones are people" and any attempt to harm them would be considered the same as murder. So one can see that neither clones nor society is particularly damaged by the creation of clones, and in fact the society may benefit as more healthy and longer lived people continued to produce and consume.

The final argument against cloning is that it is somehow intrinsically evil, no matter how logical it sounds. The debate over morality is fierce. On the one end are the pundits crying: "This is something we cannot and should not tolerate. This type of research is morally reprehensible."

On the other hand, there are the more reasonable elements which repeat that "What would a clone be [other than] a complete human being who happens to share the same genes with another person? Today, we call such people identical twins. To my knowledge no one has argued that twins are immoral." Of course, as mentioned earlier some peoples have believed that twins are immoral and a sign of evil. However, few people -- if any -- in this modern time would embrace such a position as anything other than foolish superstition.

In the same way our modern fear of reproductive cloning is nothing more than foolish fear fed by Hollywood myths. There is no true reason to fear cloning other than the terror which has been bred into us through centuries of strange legends about twinning… [END OF PREVIEW]

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