Essay, Research Paper: Cloning

Psychology

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Shortly after the announcement that British scientists had successfully cloned a
sheep, Dolly, cloning humans has recently become a possibility that seems much
more feasible in today's society. The word clone has been applied to cells as
well as to organisms, so that a group of cells stemming from a single cell is
also called a clone. Usually the members of a clone are identical in their
inherited characteristics that is, in their genes except for any differences
caused by mutation. Identical twins, for example, who originate by the division
of a single fertilized egg, are members of a clone; whereas nonidentical twins,
who derive from two separate fertilized eggs, are not clones. (Microsoft®
Encarta® 97 Encyclopedia). There are two known ways that we can clone humans.
The first way involves splitting an embryo into several halves and creating many
new individuals from that embryo. The second method of cloning a human involves
taking cells from an already existing human being and cloning them, in turn
creating other individuals that are identical to that particular person. With
these two methods at our desposal, we must ask ourselves two very important
questions: Should we do this, and Can we? There is no doubt that many problems
involving the technological and ethical sides of this issue will arise and will
be virtually impossible to avoid, but the overall idea of cloning humans is one
that we should accept as a possible reality for the future. Cloning humans is an
idea that has always been thought of as something that could be found in science
fiction novels, but never as a concept that society could actually experience.
Today's technological speed has brought us to the piont to where almost anything
is possible. Sarah B. Tegen, '97 MIT Biology Undergraduate President states,
"I think the cloning of an entire mammal has shown me exactly how fast
biology is moving ahead, I had no idea we were so close to this kind of
accomplishment." Based on the current science , though, most of these
dreams and fears are premature, say some MIT biologists. Many biologist claim
that true human cloning is something still far in the future. This raises
ethical questions now as towhether or not human cloning should even be
attempted. (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). There are many problems with
cloning humans. One method of human cloning is splitting embryos. The main issue
as to whether or not human cloning is possible through the splitting of embryos
began in 1993 when experimentation was done at George Washington University
Medical Center in Washington D.C. There Dr. Jerry Hall experimented with the
possibility of human cloning and began this moral and ethical debate. There it
was concluded that cloning is not something that can be done as of now, but it
is quite a possibility for the future. These scientists experimented eagerly in
aims of learning how to clone humans. Ruth Macklin of U.S. News & World
Report writes, "Hall and other scientists split single humans embryos into
identical copies, a technology that opens a Pandora's box of ethical questions
and has sparked a storm of controversy around the world" (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/).
They attempted to create seventeen human embryos in a laboratory dish and when
it had grown enough, separated them into forty-eight individual cells. Two of
the separated cells survived for a few days in the lab developed into new human
embryos smaller than the head of a pin and consisting of thirty-two cells each.
(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/) Although we cannot clone a human yet, this
experiment occurred almost two years ago and triggered almost an ethical
emergency. Evidence from these experiments received strange reactions from the
public. Ruth Macklin states, "Cloning is a radical challenge to the most
fundamental laws of biology, so it's not unreasonable to be concerned that it
might threaten human society and dignity. Yet much of the ethical opposition
seems also to grow out of an unthinking disgust--a sort of "yuk
factor." And that makes it hard for even trained scientists and ethicists
to see the matter clearly. While human cloning might not offer great benefits to
humanity, no one has yet made a persuasive case that it would do any real harm,
either." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/). Theologians contend that to
clone a human would violate human dignity. That would surely be true if a cloned
individual were treated as a lesser being, with fewer rights or lower stature.
But why suppose that cloned persons wouldn't share the same rights and dignity
as the rest of us? If and when cloning comes about, will people be willing to
pay anything for a clone of themselves? It is such a costly form of technology.
As we see with so many other aspects of today's socity, people will do all kinds
of things for money. (Will human cloning make a type of black market for embryos
could easily someday develop?) Parents already spend a great deal of money on in
vitro fertilization, and who knows how much they would be willing to pay for
cloning their children? The question as to what cloning would do to society from
both the moral and economic standpoints comes to the conclusion that for the
most part cloning is too expensive and too dangerous. In the religous circles
the question of human cloning has stirred debate. Rev. Robert A. Martin states:
"It appears that from the beginning God reserved for Himself the right to
create living souls. I understand that the philosophy of modern psychiatry is to
teach that human beings are soulless, therefore we are just flesh and blood
which can only respond to the environment with no ability to make conscious
decisions for itself. In other words people are no differnet than animals to be
used and manipulaated. Thus, there is, from the beginnging, a fundamental
difference between what the Bible teaches and what psychiatry teaches. This
being the case, it is little wonder then, that some people assume the
prerogative of playing the role of god." (http://www.user.shentel.net/ramartin/applied/cloning.htm)
Embryonic cloning could be a valuable tool for the studying of human
development, genetically modifying embryos, and investigating new transplant
technologies. Using cloning to produce offspring for the sake of their organs is
an issue that we must also face and question whether or not it is morally right.
No one will say that it is okay to kill a human being for the sake of their
organs. But will many have no objection to cloning thousands of individuals for
the sake of organ transplants? Technology seems to take away many of the morals
that we have worked so hard to install in society. Most people only seem to want
to cater to their own needs and do not bother to consider the consequences that
society and the clone may have to face. With the issue of parents' involvement
in cloning, Ruth Macklin, writes, " Perhaps a grieving couple whose child
is dying. This might seem psychologically twisted. But a cloned child born to
such dubious parents stands no greater or lesser chance of being loved, or
rejected, or warped than a child normally conceived. Infertile couples are also
likely to seek out cloning. That such couples have other options (in vitro
fertilization or adoption) is not an argument for denying them the right to
clone. Or consider an example raised by Judge Richard Posner: a couple in which
the husband has some tragic genetic defect. Currently, if this couple wants a
genetically related child, they have four not altogether pleasant options. 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--though that might be
objectionable, too. 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." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/).
Should we be excited at the prospect of cloning? No more nasty surprises like
sickle cell or Down syndrome-just batch after batch of high-grade and,
genetically speaking, immortal offspring! Cloning from an already existing adult
is a second method that we must consider when discussing the cloning of humans.
This type of cloning would no doubt be a very controversial issue any way that
it is looked at, but it is necessary to understand the two ways that it could be
done if we were to clone humans. Unlike the process of cloning embryos, cloning
from already existing humans allows one to know exactly what their clone will
look like ahead of time. Before the clone is actually produced, the parents or
the individual's clone will know exactly what to expect in their offspring as
far as looks go. Personality and other factors cannot be certain, but it is
stated that if the clone is observed carefully and compared with its other
clones, many similarities will automatically arise. Cloning among adults is less
obtainable than embryonic cloning, but it seems to cause just as much
controversy. Embryonic cloning has not been successful yet, as far as we know.
We do know, however, that cloning from an already existing human may effectively
work in the near future. In a movie called, The Boys from Brazil, two clones of
Hitler are supposedly produced from a cell obtained containing Hitler's genes.
This cell was in turn joined with an egg, and an embryo was formed containing
solely the genes of Hitler with only the necessary ones from the woman. This
science fiction-like experiment was done for many reasons, but it was mostly
intended to test the clones' behavior away from one another and to see if any
certain kind of attitude can be passed on from one clone to another. The boys in
this movie seem to demonstrate this concept through their slight displays of
Hitlers personality traits even after being raised apart with totally different
lifestyles. Although, this idea of cloning seems feasible, it is not very
logical with today's level of technology. A cell from a nonreproductive part of
one's body cannot be taken and used in place of a reproductive cell like sperm.
This movie is not very accurate in its portrayal of the cloning process, but it
does however, fully express the emotions felt by the clones and the others
around them. The horizon for making a clone in the embryonic form is a very
relative possibility within the next five to ten years. Who knows though, pretty
soon we may be able to go out a choose the person that we want our child to look
identical to and create a clone for them. Although in this movie there were only
two clones created, the boys were supposed to have Hitlers genes and seemed to
carry his violent instincts. This statement proves to be true in the movie but
also lacks reality of everyday society in the way that not even a clone can be
identical to its other clones because environment plays a very large role.
Studies of how the cloned individuals would relate to one another are found with
the experiment of twins separated at birth and raised in two very different
environments. Because nature makes its own clones through the process of twins,
it is easy to research about how a clone might feel and how they would react to
having another clone around them. Environment plays a big part in determining
how a clone may turn out. Traci Watson writes, "Identical genes don't
produce identical people, as anyone acquainted with identical twins can tell
you. In fact, twins are more alike than clones would be, since they have at
least shared the uterine environment, are usually raised in the same family, and
so forth. Parents could clone a second child who eerily resembled their first in
appearance, but all the evidence suggests the two would have very different
personalities. Twins separated at birth do sometimes share quirks of
personality, but such quirks in a cloned son or daughter would be haunting
reminders of the child who was lost--and the failure to re-create that child.
Even biologically, a clone would not be identical to the "master
copy." The clone's cells, for example, would have energy-processing
machinery that came from the egg donor, not from the nucleus donor. But most of
the physical differences between originals and copies wouldn't be detectable
without a molecular-biology lab. The one possible exception is fertility. Wilmut
and his coworkers are not sure that Dolly will be able to have lambs. They will
try to find out once she's old enough to breed." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/970310/10clon.htm)
Many parents have great concern in regards to having a child that has been
cloned. However, there are many excited parents looking forward to this
breakthrough in technology. By looking at the many different reasons for cloning
a child, one can better understand why it may seem appealing to parents. Cloning
from an already existing human will provide the opportunity for parents to pick
their "ideal" child. They will be able to pick out every aspect of
their child and make sure that it is perfect before they decide to have it. As
Traci Watson writes; "Sure, and there are other situations where adults
might be tempted to clone themselves. For example, a couple in which the man is
infertile might opt to clone one of them rather than introduce an outsider's
sperm. Or a single woman might choose to clone herself rather than involve a man
in any way. In both cases, however, you would have adults raising children who
are also their twins--a situation ethically indistinguishable from the
megalomaniac cloning himself. On adult cloning, ethicists are more united in
their discomfort. In fact, the same commission that was divided on the issue of
twins was unanimous in its conclusion that cloning an adult's twin is
"bizarre ... narcissistic and ethically impoverished." What's more,
the commission argued that the phenomenon would jeopardize our very sense of
who's who in the world, especially in the family." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/970310/10clon.htm)
Whether or not cloning happens with embryos or adults, various groups in society
may react very differently to it. For example, there are many religious groups
that feel cloning should not be considered for any reasons whatsoever. JefferY
L. Sheler states: "Many of the ethical issues being raised about cloning
are based in theology. Concern for preserving human dignity and individual
freedom, for example, is deeply rooted in religious and biblical principles. But
until last week there had been surprisingly little theological discourse on the
implications of cloning per se. The response so far from the religious
community, while overwhelmingly negative, has been far from monolithic."
(http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/970310/10clon.htm). This somehow parallels
to the issue of abortion and whether or not it is morally right. Religion is the
root of many peoples' values and their beliefs about things like cloning and
abortion lie behind these. Richard McCormick basically summarizes the statement
that society is already pretty messed up and with the idea of cloning in
perspective, we need to beware as the future approaches. No matter what we say
or do, research for cloning will steadily continue and even more moral and
ethical issues will arise. Who knows which of the two kinds of cloning will
become the most popular in the future, but right now the main decision we need
to make is whether or not it can be done and should be done. Who knows if human
cloning done in research labs presently will go beyond the laboratory and affect
individuals lives. What we do know however, is that cloning seems to be very
appealing in some aspects and very frightening in others. Cloned or not, we all
die. The clone that outlives its "parent" or that is generated from
the DNA of a dead person, if that were possible--would be a different person. It
would not be a reincarnation or a resurrected version of the deceased. Cloning
could be said to provide immortality, theologians say, only in the sense that,
as in normal reproduction, one might be said to "live on" in the
genetic traits passed to one's progeny. (JefferY L. Sheler). Since the science
of cloning research is just in its infancy, there has been a rush to decide what
guidelines are going to be instituted for governing cloning experiments.
President Clinton said in a written statement that "federal funds should
not be used for human cloning and current restrictions do not fully assure that
result. Also, Clinton asked for a voluntary moratorium on human cloning
experiments anywhere in the United States - at least until the legal and ethical
issues can be sorted out. Since privately funded scientists are not covered by
Clinton's directive, only a voluntary moratorium would ensure that ethical
issues are fully debated before there are any efforts to clone humans. Citing
the cloning of an adult sheep in Scotland, Clinton asked the National Bioethics
Advisory Commission last week to review the ramifications that cloning would
have on humans and report back to him in 90 days." (http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/ap0304a.htm).
Now that man has created Dolly this has certainly caused a lot of ethical
problems that are hard to answer. Will this experiment be used to create a new
race of human clones? I personally think that human cloning to any extent will
be at least problematic. I think nature will put up a good fight against mans
feable intrusion into the creation business. As I have mentioned before in the
movie The Boys from Brazil, man can only screw-up any attempt at creation. Just
ask Dr. Frankenstein. Who knows what kind of mutations cloning would breed.
Biologically would a clone evolve faster, slower? Would it affectively wipe out
gene diversity making humans susectable to disease? Could a common cold be the
new plauge? These are questions I hope we will never have to answer.

Bibliography"Clone," Microsoft® Encarta® 97 Encyclopedia. © 1993-1996
Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Macklin, Ruth. "Human cloning?
Don't just say no" U.S. News and World Report. 3 March 1997
(4-26-98) Martin, Robert. "Creating a Soul by Cloning?" Applied
Christianity. 1998 (http://www.user.shentel.net/ramartin/applied/cloning.htm)
(4-26-98) ROSS, SONYA "President ruling out federal research on human
cloning" U.S. News and World Report. 3 March 1997
(4-27-98)
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