Human Cloning: the Scientific Revolution of the Future

Tom wrote the following essay for a freshman English class at Pennsylvania State University.

Question: What do Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare have in common? 
Answer: They are arguably the best ever at what they did in science, art, and literature, respectively.

     Now you are probably asking yourself, “What does that have to do with human cloning?”  Imagine interacting with these geniuses on a regular basis.  If scientists ever successfully clone Shakespeare, Einstein, or Michelangelo, a new door will be opened through which educational and social America will benefit immensely.  The way our present scientists are developing the technology of cloning, you may see these three people mentioned in society doing what they love once again.  You may be surprised on how soon this event could occur.  After all, scientists have already successfully cloned a healthy sheep.

     In February of 1997, Dr. Ian Wilmut of Scotland successfully produced an exact clone of a sheep that was artificially inseminated with one of its own cells.  First, the nucleus from an unfertilized egg was removed; at the same time, frozen cells from the donor were placed in a culture dish with very few nutrients, causing them to go into a suspended state.  Next, the donor cell was placed near the egg cell in another culture dish in which electric current was run, causing them to fuse together.  This fusing of the two cells tricked the egg into “believing” it was fertilized by sperm cells.  The egg was finally placed into the uterus of an ewe; the yielding product being a healthy clone of the original donor — a sheep named Dolly (Kendall 8).  Immediately after the Dr. Wilmut’s announcement that he had successfully created the world’s first cloned mammal, President Clinton passed a law “banning the use of federal money in any experiments concerning human cloning” (Bry http://medinfo/wustl…).  However, this ban only pertains to the use of government money, not private scientists’ funds.  This article’s purpose is to show you that President Clinton made a decision based on misconceptions and weak arguments, rather than researching the issue in depth and considering the advantages human cloning could bring to the future.

     The creation of a duplicate human has never been carried out, but since the cloning of Dolly, scientists are on the brink of reaching their goal.  Theoretically, creating a human being is essentially the same as cloning a sheep.  The six steps, which I have described above, will supposedly result in a human clone.  The only differences between the two procedures is that in place of the frozen cell that was collected from a sheep and placed in an ewe egg, would be a human cell placed into a human egg.  The fertilized egg would then be placed into a woman’s uterus where it would develop as a normal child.

     Scientists are getting closer to producing a human clone every day, which is resulting in a very controversial issue that has two main views; should human cloning be further researched due to its potential usefulness, or should it be banned all together due to its “unethical” and “immoral” nature.  To put it bluntly, human cloning should be further researched.  I will show you how and why I came to this conclusion by listing the pros and cons, then elaborating on each separately.

     Human cloning has many results that could benefit people both directly and indirectly.  Some important results of cloning would be the benefit to couples who can not conceive naturally; medical improvements such as the production of “extra” organs; and the production of historical scientists, artists, and authors.  These are the main pros in conjunction to the issue, which will be discussed in detail.

      How would you feel if you and/or your spouse were unable to have children?  This is an all too common scenario in today’s world.  According to a 1996 study, one in six couples in America are incapable of conceiving children naturally (Kong http://www.boston.com). Without human cloning, there are presently no means of action that will produce a child whose genetic information completely simulates one of his/her parent’s genes.  The current alternate ways that infertile couples can have children are through adoption, and in vitro fertilization (“assisted reproductive technology in which eggs are fertilized outside a woman’s body. The process involves stimulation of egg production by daily injections of hormones. The eggs are removed from the woman’s body and placed in a fluid to which semen is added. After about 18 hours the eggs are removed, passed through a growth medium, and then examined. If fertilization has occurred, the embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus” Microsoft Encarta 98).  Adoption and in vitro fertilization result in the child having half or none of the parents’ genetic information, while cloning a child would result in the offspring having 100% of either the mother’s or father’s genetic information.  Since the child would have all of one of its natural parent’s genetic information, he/she is capable of passing the family’s genes on to future generations.

      As was mentioned in the introductory paragraph, cloning could be used as a link between the present and past.  Interacting with history’s most prominent men and women could advance scientific, technological, and mathematical findings as well as written and artistic pieces.  Put into Steven Vere’s words “Why should we not also allow the cloning of distinguished intellectuals and scientists, such as science fiction visionary Arthur C. Clarke, Dr. Jonas Salk, inventor of the polio vaccine, and even Dr. Ian Wilmut himself? Wilmut is certain to win the Nobel Prize in medicine/physiology. In fact any Nobel Prize winner would be worth cloning for the potential future contribution which their twin might make.” (Vere 2).

     This manner of cloning existing or once-existent humans could prove to be very useful.  The cloning of these people could be used to consult, inform, discover, and learn.  Today’s society could use the extra “help” that these clones could provide to them, such as advice on economics, business, science, and technology.  With the cloning of intelligent, innovative people, the world would develop faster, and more efficiently.

     One very important medical procedure today is the ability of surgeons to replace infected organs with healthy ones.  Since the first heart transplant in 1967 (Microsoft Encarta 98) doctors’ have come close to perfecting the surgery.  In 1997, there were 1,264 organ transplants in the United States, ranging from intestinal to lung replacements (http://www.upmc.edu…).  The reason this number was not higher is because of the lack of resources available to doctors.  By using human cloning, an abundant amount of organs could be “made”, that would be available on demand.  This use of cloning could prove to be the biggest breakthrough since sliced bread.

Consider this hypothetical situation: 
     Little Johnny is lying on his deathbed because he needs a heart transplant, but none are accessible because of the limitations on organ availability.  With human cloning, the necessary number of organs could be made to meet people’s demand in Johnny’s situation — and other situations.  Many lives would be saved for those in need of an organ transplant.  Sadly, there are many people in similar situations as Johnny’s, but with the technology of cloning human organs, a second chance (which these people deserve) would be created.

     Those who oppose human cloning believe that it is “unethical” and “immoral”.  This is a valid argument presented to the issue of whether human cloning should be banned or not.  I say “valid” because many reasons on banning human cloning are misconceptions –an invalid argument.  Three common misconceptions people have with clones are that they could be produced as slaves, they are not real people, and they are an exact copy of the donor with the same mental characteristics and personalities — which would supposedly cause confusion.

     It is important to understand that if a human clone is produced, a whole different person with a separate soul (http://hyperion.advanced…) would also be produced, having the same rights as a naturally born person; the only difference being the method of conception (Kendall 8).  With this in mind, you should also consider a separate person to have different mental (personality, interests, etc…) and physical make-up (DNA, fingerprints, etc…).  The Constitution states, “All men are created equally”. By taking this basic right literally, it can be concluded that any being put under inhumane conditions would be in contradiction of our country’s founding laws.  Since a human clone is essentially a twin separated by time, putting them in conditions such as slavery would be illegal.  The same actions would be brought on the person responsible for the inhumane actions as if the being were not a clone.

     The main argument in support of banning human cloning is its “unethical” and “immoral” means.  These reasons to ban human cloning can quickly be disproved in the following paraphrase by Lloyd McCoy (http://www.humancloning.org/lloyd.htm).

“The point of many cloning critics is that cloning humans is against the will of Providence. However, it is mentioned in the Bible that man was created in the likeness of God (Bible, 1). In order to be more like God, which is his will, we can duplicate what he created. God will not be displeased, but pleased with this major accomplishment.” (http://www.humancloning.org/lloyd.htm).

      For those who do not believe in a God, consider this analogy between vegetarianism and human cloning.  “Vegetarianism is the practice of subsisting on a diet composed primarily or wholly of vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, and seeds, with or without eggs and dairy products” (Microsoft Encarta 98).  In simple terms, vegetarians do not eat meat or anything that comes from animals, because they consider it unethical.  If this is true, should vegetarianism be forced upon everyone because of vegetarians’ ethical or non-ethical standards?  Not everyone believes in vegetarianism, just as everyone does not believe in human cloning.  If a group of people do not believe in something, should it automatically be banned?  If this were the case, then many things in our country would be illegal, resulting in a less pleasurable living environment.

     Through analyzing my opinions and views on the issue of human cloning, I hope to have impacted your judgment on whether human cloning is something that should be further researched.  President Clinton, if you are reading this magazine, I urge you to reconsider the law you have passed pertaining to the banning of research on human cloning.  After all, wouldn’t you like to see Charlie Parker play his saxophone in person once again?

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