Term Paper: Therapeutic Cloning Recent Years

Pages: 10 (2537 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Genetics  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Another counter to therapeutic cloning is the possibility of alternative methods to reaching the same goal, methods such as the use of adult stem cells or even the use of stem cells from umbilical cord blood have no moral stigma attached to them. Secondly, there is promising research work being done in these areas. So why experiment with human embryos and run the risk of these being specifically created for destructive experimentation? (The Age, March 2002)

Besides such obvious negatives, another ethical dilemma raised by the subject of therapeutic cloning is the fact that it violates a basic tenet of nature. Currently, establishing a human embryo naturally, or by any of the standard artificial reproductive technologies, involves the fusion of a sperm with an egg. Thus the new organism formed contains genetic information both from the sperm and egg. Cloning, on the other hand, is asexual reproduction as it is done by reproduction of a cell or an organism, usually, but not always, with the same nuclear genome as another cell or organism. This is what ensures the same genetic make up (Cloning: Sometimes Nice and Sometimes Nasty).

True that such embryos are terminated before 14 days in therapeutic cloning but the fact still remains that such procedures are knowingly violating established tenets of nature and could later lead to all sorts of problems. Isn't this exactly what raises fearful images of eugenics and memories of the atrocities of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century?

The opponents to therapeutic cloning also point out that the procedure implies loss of dignity and value of human life given that the ovum needs to be extracted from women. Not only is there some evidence that shows there is a risk of physical injury to at least one percent of such donors, there is also the probability that such woman donors will be putting their body through what's called a super-ovulation process, which may lead to some psychological problems in a few cases. Then there is the very real possibility that the people most likely to be hurt will be women from weaker socio-economic strata as they would be lured by the promise of payment: "...$3,000 to $5,000 each...making their bodies manufacturing plants...." (Shepard)

There are other concerns vis-a-vis the commercialization of therapeutic cloning such as property, progeny and patents. Such concerns have led to The Council for Responsible Genetics, a national organization based in Massachusetts, Cambridge adopting a Genetic Bill of Rights that states: all people have the right to preservation of the earth's biological and genetic diversity; all people have the right to a world in which living organisms cannot be patented; the right to protection from eugenic measures; right to genetic privacy including the right to prevent the taking or storing of bodily samples for genetic information without their voluntary informed consent; the right to be conceived, gestated and born without genetic manipulation (Ames).

Such definitions of genetic rights and ethical codes of conduct are perhaps of value in a democratic environment. But while addressing the issue of possible violations of those rights, one really needs to look at an imperfect world that is still dealing with a great deal of authoritarian, dictatorial and fundamentalist regimes who may just misuse therapeutic cloning procedures for their own vested interests or ideologies.

It is in the light of the range of issues discussed thus far that President Bush set up the President's Council on bioethics to "undertake fundamental inquiry into the human and moral significance of developments in biomedical and behavioral science and technology...to explore specific ethical and policy questions related to these developments." (Berkowitz)

The Council, composed of a politically, religiously, and intellectually diverse group of distinguished individuals - six medical doctors, three practicing scientists, four legal scholars, three political scientists, a moral philosopher, and a theologian - were all focused on ensuring that the dignity of the individual is preserved at all costs from the multifarious threats to which that dignity is constantly exposed.

Based on the above tenet, the Council has thereafter produced a policy recommendation entailing an outright Congressional ban on human reproductive cloning and a four-year national moratorium on therapeutic cloning to allow further study of the moral, political and scientific issues involved. (Berkowitz).

Dr. Kass, a member of President Bush's Bioethics Council sums up the issue as "There is more at stake in the biological revolution than just saving life or avoiding death and suffering. Human life and dignity are also in the balance." (The Washington Times, September 2002)

Works Cited

Ames, David A. "Eugenic Danger or Genetic Promise: A Revolution for the Millennium." Cross Currents. Vol. 51, Fall 2001. Questia. 4 Oct. 2003. http://www.questia.com/.

Barglow, Raymond. "A Reply to Rifkin." Tikkun. Vol. 17, July-August 2002:

Questia. 4 Oct. 2003 http://www.questia.com/.

Berkowitz, Peter. "The Pathos of the Kass Report." Policy Review. (2002): Questia. 4 Oct. 2003 http://www.questia.com/.

Bioethics council asks more review of technology's effects." The Washington Times. (September 8, 2002) http://www.questia.com/.

Fleming, Dr. John I & Pike Dr. Gregory K. "An Ethical Assessment of Obtaining and Using Human Embryonic Stem Cells." Southern Cross Bioethics Institute. (April 6, 1999). http://www.bio-ethics.com/pub_misc_embstemcells.htm

Fleming, Dr. John I. "Cloning: Sometimes Nice and Sometimes Nasty."

Southern Cross Bioethics Institute. (June, 1999). http://www.bio-ethics.com/op_nicenasty.htm

Pike, Dr. Gregory K. "Embryo debate is moral, not sectarian." The Age.

March 2, 2002. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2002/03/01/1014704996768.html

Pope John Paul II. "Address to the 18th International Congress of the Transplantation Society." August 29, 2000. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/speeches/2000/jul-sep/documents/hf_jp-ii_spe_20000829_transplants_en.html#top

Robinson, B.A. "Therapeutic Cloning: How it is done; possible benefits."

17 Aug. 2000. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 4 Oct. 2003. http://www.religioustolerance.org/clo_ther.htm

Shannon, Thomas A. "Human embryonic stem cell therapy." Theological Studies 62.4 (2001): 811+. Questia. 4 Oct. 2003 http://www.questia.com/.

Shepard, Stuart. "Cloning Research Found to Hurt Women." March 28, 2003.

Family News In Focus. 4 Oct. 2003. http://family.org/cforum/fnif/news/a0025347.cfm

Stem Cell Research: Medical Progress with Responsibility - Ethical

Considerations." Department of Health. (2000): http://www.doh.gov.uk/cegc/stemcellreport.htm [END OF PREVIEW]

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