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Stem cell cloning is one of the biggest advancements the scientific and medical community has ever seen. Despite this amazing discovery, many individuals are finding ethical issues with the act of creating embryos for stem cell harvesting. Some may find this hard to believe because stem cells have the potential to help so many people that are suffering. Ethical issues include religious problems such as the unnatural formation of life, and its disposal, as well as the potential to clone humans. While many believe that cloning humans would eventually prove an ethical disaster, it is clear that human cloning will be impossible for a very long time. Religiously ethical issues, such as unnatural conception, are easier to understand. Still, it is difficult to adhere to this ethical standard when harvesting stem cells from naturally conceived embryos is considered unethical and stem cells are the only possible way to help so many suffering people. While religious leaders should be heard, it may not mean that science should conduct themselves according to religion’s ethics.
The year 2013’s rapid advancements in stem cell cloning have left the medical and scientific communities wondering what miraculous possibilities may be next now that this seemingly impossibly achievement is in sight. What was once thought to be the material of science fiction novels is now very clearly in sight in laboratories across the country. Despite the technical difficulties, scientists remain hopeful. However, the public is not meeting them with excitement: several ethical issues concerning stem cell cloning are arising. The primary camps involve religion and human cloning. Religious groups believe it unethical to use embryos for experimentation for several reasons. The public also fears that stem cell research will lead to human cloning, which will amount to a host of ethical issues. These ethical concerns are making it difficult for scientists to gain support in the community.
Many individuals are ignorant to why religious groups are upset about stem cell cloning. The initial trouble began, according to Tetsuya Isshi and associates, authors of, “Ethical and Legal Issues Arising in Research on Inducing Human Germ Cells from Pluripotent Stem Cells,” with the initial procedure itself. Scientists bypassed the “normal” way an embryo is created, through the combination of sperm and an egg, by hollowing out an egg and implanting the skin cells of an eight month old infant. Chemicals helped the egg to divide as it would naturally in a mother’s womb and within days, an indistinguishable human embryo was available for stem cell harvesting . The religious community naturally fears that because the embryos advance to look identical to human stem cells, they will eventually be used for human clones, as read in David Gibson’s, “Human Cloning Breakthrough Prompts Religious Objections .” They also believe it is wrong manufacture embryos in labs, using the material to suit the needs of other human beings . This remark is, of course, in reference to the fact that stem cells can be used successfully to help individuals with Parkinsons Disease, nerve damage, muscular dystrophy, and many other issues that range from mild to severe. Religious leaders have gone so far as to condemn the research and use of the embryos research because the embryos are disposed of after the stem cells are harvested. The reason for the disposal is because the embryos never advance to a stage that would allow for successful implantation in a womb, however .
While the regilious community appears to be primarily concerned with the unnatural creation of life, and the disposal of it afterward, others are solely concerned with where the advacement could lead in the future. According to David Cyranoski’s, “Human Stem Cells Created by Cloning,” draw the public’s attention the idea that if stem cell’s can be created and cloned, one day human’s may be created under the same pretense. Shai Lavi’s article, “Cloning International Law: The Science and Science Fiction of Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Patenting,” attempted to distinguish between fact and fiction concerning human cloning, while including the lengths that some are going to define the ethical boundary for cloning . For example, Lavi references ethicist Paul Billings, who has created his own ethical basis for why cloning is wrong. The reasons include that human cloning is not necessary on a strictly medical basis, and may be used out of the context of medical basis. Billings also notes that cloning is not safe, and states that the research being performed currently concerning stem cell cloning, as well as its uses, are pointless. Billings believes that stem cell uses do not cure all that we have been told, and that this is just a guise used by physicians and scientists in order to further their agenda in order to achieve human cloning .
The concerns of religious leaders and individuals like Paul Billings do hold weight with a large part of the public. Many are concerned with the unnatural conception of human life, as well as its disposal, cloning in general, and the prospect of human cloning. However, there are many issues that these individuals are forgetting to mention. For example, science is no where near human cloning; scientists have tried unsuccessfully for several years to clone a monkey so there is little hope at this point of cloning a human . Contrary to what Billings believes, stem cells do in fact rememedy many different ailments, issues, and forms of damage that people face today. There are even hopeful forms of research involving stem cells for currently incurable diseases such as Alzeihmer’s . Currently, the only ethical issue that is of any consequence is that scientists are creating embryos in an untraditional way, only to disgard them after the stem cells have been harvested . The religious community has not been consoled by the fact that the embryos are not able to be implanted in woman’s womb, nor to they normally surpass the age of 18 days, and there is no other way to obtain the research that the embryos allow scientists to glean .
In sum, there are many ethical issue surrounding stem cell cloning. The very act makes the religious community unsettled. Creating life in an unnatural way apppears unethical to them. Stem cell cloning also has many fearing that the next natural step will be to clone humans. Some believe this is medically unnecessary and will eventually lead to morally bankrupt, soulless individuals raoming our streets. However, since human cloning is not a possibility on the horizon, the only real ethical issue is that scientists are creating artificial embryos through cloning.
Cyranoski, D. (2013). Human Stem Cells Created by Cloning. News In Focus, 295-296.
Gibson, D. (2013). Human Cloning Breakthrough Prompts Religious Objections. The Washington Post.
Ishii, T., Pera, R. A., & Greely, H. T. (2013). Ethical and Legal Issues Arising in Research on Inducing Human Germ Cells from Pluripotent Stem Cells. Cell: Stem Cell, 145-148.
Lavi, S. (2014). Cloning International Law: The Science and Science Fiction of Human Cloning and Stem-Cell Patenting. Law, Culture, and the Humanities.