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Cloning – The Moral Issue

Today, the topic of cloning generates more argument then it has ever created before. The controversy over cloning is based, in part, on the fact that there are extreme opposing viewpoints on the subject. Also a major factor in the debate over cloning is a fear of new technology. Throughout history, man has always been slow to adapt to a new technology, or a new way of doing things. We go through all the trouble to adapt to one method, why uproot ourselves and change everything just to do it a different way. This attitude has been evident in the recent past, with inventions such as the automobile and the television. Nuclear power is a prime example of an advanced technology essentially abandoned out of fear. There are very few nuclear power plants left in operation, and there are no new plants being built. This is mainly due to fear of an accident, or to the long lasting effects of this technology.

As with everything, including cloning, there is a negative side. With television, the negative is that children often watch it instead of doing homework, subsequently causing lower grades. It is also believed that television violence influences children into more violent tendencies. A negative to automobiles is the massive pollution a large number of them cause. Entire cities have been put on pollution alert due to toxic smog created, in part, by the automobile. Nuclear power’s major downfall is, aside from the immense destruction caused by an accident, the long-lasting effects of the spent nuclear fuel. Sometimes the negatives outweigh the positives, and the technology is rightfully abandoned, but in mostly this is not the case .

First off, cloning is not just the photocopying of a living breathing human being. It takes a great deal of time and effort to clone a living being. Also, the clone would not have the memories and experiences that the original has. That technology does not yet exist. There are many things that can be cloned; single cells, plants, organs, animals, and eventually entire human beings. The technology to clone a human exists, but we have not moved into that area of cloning yet. This is due mainly to the fact that some people believe cloning violates their morals.
Another extremely useful application of the cloning technology would be the cloning of organs or tissues for the body. With this, we could not only cure our suffering and dying, we could prolong our life-span by decades. It wouldn’t be uncommon for people to live to one hundred and fifty years old, or older. If a kidney fails in old age, take the few good cells left and clone a brand new kidney. If someone suffers a massive heart attack, clone a new heart. After more development of cloning, there is even the possibility to repair brain and spinal column damage. These life-prolonging procedures wouldn’t be reserved for the rich and famous, they could be used on everyone.

Take, for example, a man who has drank all of his life. He is now in his 40’s and has severe liver cirrhosis. Without a liver transplant, he will die. And even if he gets a liver transplant, there is no guarantee that it will save him; it could reject. If the man gets a liver, and if it doesn’t reject, he then has to live out the remainder of his life on rejection medicine, and even a simple cold could kill him. Now if cloning was a common practice, the doctors would simply take a few healthy liver cells and clone a brand-new liver for the man. Since the liver is a clone of the original, the liver cells have exactly the same DNA and there is no chance for rejection. So he is guaranteed a liver that will not reject, and he won’t have to spend his life on rejection drugs.

Now there is the subject of cloning an entire human being. It is this side of cloning that generates the most controversy of all. People believe that it is not ethical to clone a human being. These beliefs are based on the premise that God created humans in His image, and their soul is given to them by God. Therefore, it is not our place to create a human being; it is God’s. In their view, we would be playing God, and this should not happen. But science does not recognize that a god created the universe, science believes that the universe created itself out of a “big bang”. From this point of view, God did not create man, and there is no moral boundary to cloning a human being. However, the benefits of cloning a living human being are questionable.

The question asked is, why clone a human? The advocates of human cloning would say that they want to “weed out” genetic faults in people7. This is a viable answer, since we want as few problems as we can have. Also, a great number of people want an image of them to live on forever. A clone would best serve this purpose, since it will look completely identical to the original. There are people that believe that cloning will cure the problem caused by infertile couples. Cloning would allow someone’s image to live on, and they would have a son or daughter to live with.

Now, with the positives and gains of cloning and genetic engineering established, there are of course the few negatives that always slow a technology’s progress. The first such potential negative is that some unscrupulous person might acquire the genes of a monster, Hitler, Napoleon, Stalin, or Saddam Hussein for example. However this is extremely unlikely for a number of reasons. First, the amount of DNA that is recoverable would be negligible, if that. If this small amount of DNA was able to be recovered, chances are it would be heavily damaged or deteriorated, so a clone of this person might not be at all like the original. If, by some far stretch, the DNA was able to be recovered, and was in good enough condition to clone that person, the clone would not turn out like the original. The genetics of a person plays only a small role in the development of that person. Memories, experiences, parents, upbringing, and environment all play a key role in the development of a human being. If Hitler was a monster in the 40’s, chances are that his clone in the 90’s won’t be. The way that he was brought up plays more of a role on his actions and attitudes than his genetics does.

Moral implications exist on both sides of the issue. Would it be fair to clone a historical monster such as Hitler? Even though the clone didn’t kill millions of Jews, his original did, so a great number of people would discriminate against him. He could be attacked for crimes he never committed, he might be ridiculed for reasons he does not know. The mental torment of such a childhood would destroy him. Would it be moral to do this to a human? The answer is no. The cloning of a normal person, one who does not stand out, would be perfectly acceptable, since there is no reason for that person to be acted against unfairly.
Through all of this proof, we now have the information to say that cloning must not be banned. The potential that this technology has is unparalleled. Nothing throughout history has had such a heightening effect on the entirety of humanity.

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