Research Paper -
Cloning: The Process and Perspectives Religion and Ethics
A clone is a genetic replica of a living organism. According to the University of Utah Press, “Cloning is the creation of an organism that is an exact genetic copy of another. This means that every portion of the organism’s DNA is identical in both the organism and its clone. Cloning provides scientists with a way to efficiently mass manufacture organs for patients in critical need of them, produce a child for infertile and homosexual couples, or even create a person to resemble a deceased loved one. Although the benefits of cloning are appealing, the process and outcome of cloning can be perceived as detrimental both to society and the clones. In permitting the cloning of humans, society potentially compromises the value and autonomy of the cloned human being. Despite the convenience it offers, cloning poses disputatious issues related to religion, specifically Catholicism, and ethics given its unnatural outcomes.
As copies of an original, clones are artificially manufactured in laboratories. By using a single cell, scientists could produce a clone that would be identical to the first cell and would have the same DNA sequence. Unlike reproduction that involves two “parents,” cloning has a single parent (WiseGeek). The procedure is deceptively simple.
In To Clone or Not to Clone: The Ethical Question, “the method used to clone is to take an egg and remove its nucleus and take the DNA from the adult cell [in the nucleus] and insert it into the egg… You then stimulate the reconstructed egg electrically to make it start to divide and become an embryo. Then use the same process to implant the egg into a surrogate mother that you would use with artificial insemination” (Eibert).
With the two main types of cloning, Reproductive Cloning and Therapeutic Cloning, scientists can harvest specific organs for recipients of organ donation, create opportunities for infertile and homosexual couples to have a child, or replace a deceased one.. According to The Center for Genetics and Society, “Reproductive Cloning is the production of a genetic duplicate of an existing organism. Somatic cell nuclear transfer is the most common cloning technique; it involves putting the nucleus of a body cell into an egg from which the nucleus has been removed,” and then implanting it in a surrogate mother (Center for Genetics and Society). By cloning humans, everyone could have the option of creating their own genetically designed baby even if it was not possible previously. Reproductive cloning could make it feasible for any couple or individual to have children who are genetically related to them.
But, some critics like Richard B. Gunderman in his article, The Science and Ethics of Cloning: What Physicians Need to Know, point out the problems and argue, “that reproductive cloning would place an unreasonable psychological burden on the clone, who would grow up feeling that he or she must live up to the model of dear old “mom” or “dad.” People who knew that they had been brought into being to replace or mimic someone else might believe that their own individuality and capacity for self-direction were being suppressed. (Radiology). The insecurity of not being a copy of an original self may compromise psychologically the clone by reducing their concept of self to a mere scientific entity.
Unlike reproductive cloning that creates a whole person, therapeutic cloning seems a more palatable version because it is employed to harvest only specific organs for medical use. Therapeutic Cloning or Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer is consummated through a similar process to reproductive cloning. The resulting embryo would grow for about 2 weeks and then its stem cells would be extracted to grow into a separate piece of human tissue or organ for transplant.
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