With the development of modern technologies, the humanity faced a new challenge: how to make life better without destroying the core values of the society? Some inventions and innovations bring undisputable benefits for the world community, however, some require careful investigation and worldwide debates. Human cloning, or reproductive cloning, is one of such arguable topics. Although no human being has been cloned so far, the scientific potential is approaching this goal by quick steps. The humanity will have to make a difficult choice: either to approve, or reject human cloning as such. The essay will argue that human cloning should be banned due to theological, human rights, and power misuse reasons.
The history of cloning dates back to 1880’s when professor of zoology and comparative anatomy Dr. August Weismann suggested that genetic information of the cell diminishes with its division (BSP). It took another two decades to show that Weismann’s suggestion was not fully true: Hans Spemann proved that embryo cells may retain all genetic information and have it transferred to a new organism (BSP). Furthermore, Spemann conducted the first successful transfer of genetic information to a new organism. It was 1963 when the term “clone” appeared in the scientific discourse. All attempts to clone the living organisms in the 1960s were reduced to plants. In the 1980s, the first attempts to clone animals were made: in 1984-1986, Steen Willadsen cloned the sheep and a cow from embryonic cells (BSP). The turning point in the history of cloning was 1996, when scientists Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell cloned the first sheep called Dolly from an adult cell. This experiment clearly showed that cloning of adult mammals is possible. In 1997, Bill Clinton banned the federal funding of cloning researches, however, privately funded researched continued existing (Royal 4). All attempts of the Congress to ban cloning ended up with a failure demonstrating a split in the society regarding the issue.
Human cloning poses a threat to religious beliefs of millions of people by showing that God is not that almighty as many people thought. The religious debates were among the harshest, however, there is clear evidence that the majority of faithful people support banishment of cloning. Paul Ramsey considers cloning to be a borderline of human morality (Campbell 4). His arguments are based on both vertical (person-person) and horizontal (person-God) border-crossings of cloning (Campbell 4). On the one side, cloning serves the scientific ends putting God aside of societal affairs. Cloning involves experimentations on the unborn and distorts traditional perception of parenthood and sexuality. On the other side, cloning represents human sins of pride and desire for self-creation in contrast to the theory of man created by God (Campbell 4). This argument shows a human being as something innate to the divine nature of God and portrays cloning as an attempt to put a human being beyond God’s reach. Roman Catholic and Conservative Protestant scholars supported Ramsey’s position. They both refer to incompatibility of the concepts of individuality, freedom, and wholeness of a human being with cloning. Even the liberal thinkers that encourage cloning researches note that there they cannot be used for giving birth to cloned people.
Human cloning contradicts the concept of the universal human rights and freedoms according to the UN Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. Human cloning is not only an object of religious or political discussions. It requires extensive research in the legislative field as well. The problem lies in the fact of how to define the cloned person in terms of universally adopted human rights and how the state can enforce its protection. The UN considers reproductive cloning as a practice that is contrary to human dignity (UNESCO 17). The Declaration urges the states to ensure that its principles are respected. The UN recognizes “the inherent dignity and diversity” of the human family and treats human cloning as a factor that violates these basic norms. In 2002, the Director-General of UNESCO Koichiro Matsuura called human cloning “scientifically risky and ethically unacceptable” (UNESCO 18), however, could not persuade the world community to ban human cloning completely. The participant at the Round Table meeting in the UNESCO Headquarters adopted the concept of the “imperative freedom of research” that allowed cloning researches that do not violate Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee’s instructions (UNESCO 17). This means that human cloning as such is prohibited, although some community-oriented researches are still allowed.
Finally, human cloning can be a result of power misuse as in the case of Lord David Sainsbury of Great Britain with no further guarantees that this will not happen again. In 1999, Lord Sainsbury, the Minister for Science, came to the Labor Party Conference and expressed his desire to promote cloning of the human embryos. It turned out that Sainsbury’s association sponsored the Conference and one could hardly reject his idea. Moreover, Sainsbury was a Labor Party sponsor and could not be easily dismissed. Sainsbury’s campaign ended up victoriously: the pro-cloning side won 366 by 174 during the House of Commons vote (Garrett). This example clearly shows how economic influence may result in political decisions. Currently, private corporations are sponsoring human cloning; therefore, there is no guarantee that they will not use their financial resources to override the prohibition of cloning in the parliament. Furthermore, the misuse of power can lead to far more serious consequences: clone researches will be used for political and commercial purposes rather than for the sake of humanity as declared by the UN.
The cloning proponents argue that researches in cloning may have positive and far-reaching consequences for the world community. Learning how to work with the human genes may help the humanity overcome such diseases as cancer, Down’s syndrome, leukemia, and Tay-Sachs disease. Dr. Richard Seed also claims that cloning experiments can make aging and Parkinson’s disease reversible. The cloning supporters also speculate with life stories claiming that human cloning can save families, restore justice, and bring people hope (Smith). However, all these arguments do not consider a simple fact: human cloning is not a product for everyday use. Only the richest and the mightiest will be able to use human cloning benefits, leaving the rest as observers. Human cloning endangers currently existing values and norms for the sake of the future prospects, therefore, should be banned.
The human cloning issue put the humanity before a choice: either to save the existing order and values, or sacrifice them for the sake of a brighter future. Theological argument proved that cloning might result in peoples losing faith and morality. The human rights argument showed that legalization of human cloning requires totally different legal framework with different values, therefore, cannot be implemented easily. The UN, a supreme international body, considers that human cloning violates the basis of human dignity and family relationships. Finally, the power abuse argument shows that cloning may be misused under the influence of money. All cloning proponents’ arguments strive for a better future forgetting about the present. Even if human cloning becomes possible, it will be available to a narrow cohort of people. So should we sacrifice the majority’s interests for the sake of someone’s ambitions?
BSP. "History of Cloning." Basic Science Partnership at Harvard Medical School. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://bsp.med.harvard.edu/?q=node/18>.
Campbell, Courtney S. "Religious Perspectives on Human Cloning." Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 May 2014. <https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/nbac/pubs/cloning2/cc4.pdf>.
Garrett, Peter. "lifeissues | Human Cloning and the Abuse of Power." LifeIssues.net: Clear thinking about crucial issues. N.p., 2000. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://lifeissues.net/writers/gar/gar_02cloningabuse.html>.
Royal , Allison. The History of Cloning Humans and Animal. California: COSMOS UC Davis, 2009. Web. <http://cosmos.ucdavis.edu/archives/2009/cluster7/royal_allison.pdf>.
Smith, Simon. "The Benefits of Human Cloning." Human Cloning Foundation Home Page. N.p., 2002. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://www.humancloning.org/benefits.php>.
UNESCO. Human Cloning. Ethical Issues. France: UNESCO, 2005. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001359/135928e.pdf>.