Are you for or against human cloning? Before you answer this pertinent question, picture this. A loved one who is very dear to you is diagnosed with a serious disease such as muscular dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, or even diabetes. If they could be treated, cured or have their life saved by stem cells or the results of cloning research, would that change your answer? Cloning can be defined as creating “an identical copy of a plant or animal from the genetic material of a single organism” (Cloning).
There are two main types of human cloning, reproductive and therapeutic.
Reproductive human cloning would essentially produce entire, living human beings, whereas therapeutic cloning would only produce parts or pieces such as tissue samples or organs needed for transplantation. The major debate over cloning is an ethical one. Would a clone have the same rights as the original? Would cloning result in a new form of slavery? Personally, I am not sure what the answers to these questions are.
But regardless, therapeutic cloning should be allowed because humans are not being created, only the components needed to heal ailing patients.
One major issue in regards to the cloning debate is the conjoining of the two separate types of cloning. The public sees cloning as the creation of a belated twin, which actually only describes reproductive cloning. When most people think about cloning they picture a mad scientist creating faux people in some dank, secret laboratory. In reality, this is about as far from the truth as one can get. Medical science is very far from creating actual people. However, we are much closer to discovering the necessary technology for producing cells and tissue samples essential for the treating, and possibly curing, of many debilitating diseases.
Stem cell research is a major part of indispensable advances in therapeutic cloning. “Stem cells are useful because of their ability to become other cell types…Embryonic stem (ES) cells, however, have a much greater developmental potential [than Adult stem cells] and can be coaxed to give rise to nearly every cell type” (Davies, Fairchild, and Silk). Stem cells can be used to start established cell lines, from which multiple different cell types can be grown.
This technology could be utilized majorly for replacement tissue growth, which is crucial to the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Therapeutic cloning is not nearly as complicated as some people make it out to be. According to Kevin Bonsor and Cristen Conger on the How Stuff Works website, which is a Discovery Channel company, therapeutic cloning involves a serious of steps. DNA is extracted from a sick person. The DNA is then inserted into an enucleated donor egg [an egg with the nucleus removed].
The egg then divides like a typical fertilized egg and forms an embryo. Stem cells are removed from the embryo. Any kind of tissue or organ can be grown from these stem cells to treat various ailments and diseases. Using this process, healthy organs can be grown to replace damaged ones, or new skin can be produced to graft onto a burn victim. Furthermore, neurons can be grown to help treat patients with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or other neurological ailments. Therapeutic cloning is referred to in the field as nuclear transportation or, more specifically, somatic cell nuclear transfer.
According to an article written by Chan et al. in 2008, scientists conducted a study to learn whether or not they could treat Parkinson’s in mice and it began with the “derivation of 187 ntES [(nuclear transfer Embryonic Stem)] cell lines from twenty four parkinsonian mice. ” Based on the information found in this study it is reasonable to say that, using therapeutic cloning, we may be able to treat Parkinson’s disease in mice (Chan et al. ). Taking that into account, it is hardly a far stretch until medical experts are capable of treating human sufferers of Parkinson’s.
Furthermore, this study alone should be proof enough that research into therapeutic cloning is not only ethical, but necessary. Gregg Wasson was a distinguished law practitioner, and his fiancee, Ann Campbell, an author of children’s books. That is, until they were both diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and their careers were ended by their impending dementia. Somehow, with help from the twenty five odd medications he take every day, Gregg managed to testify on behalf of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research (CAMR) in front of the U. S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
With medicine where it is right now, this man is required to spend around $11,000 every year on his medication, and continue to medicate every three hours. Furthermore, “Parkinson’s medications become less effective over time”, so eventually his medications will no longer accomplish their job and he will slowly die (Therapeutic). If the government were to put a ban on therapeutic cloning, this would be the life that millions of Americans would be condemned to. However, if research is allowed to continue, we could someday be able to help these people, or even cure them.
In the words of Gerald Ford, the thirty-eighth president of the United States of America, reproductive cloning would be “a perversion of science”. On the other hand, however, he argues that therapeutic cloning is anything but. In 2002, around the time of Ford’s eighty-ninth birthday, a bill was put before Congress that would ban not only reproductive cloning, but therapeutic as well. The late President Ford said that therapeutic cloning is “a very different branch of science that holds limitless potential to improve or extend life for 130 million Americans now suffering from chronic or debilitating conditions.
He felt that all of these people deserved the best possible care that science and medicine could possibly produce, and banning therapeutic cloning would hinder advancement toward this goal significantly (Ford). The absolute epitome of the opposition to cloning is that people should not have the power to create people. This resistance does not apply here since I am only in favor of therapeutic cloning. Some may say that growing human tissue is equally as immoral as creating entire humans, to which I reply, is taking a biopsy equally as immoral as committing murder?
Others may say that cloning is a boldfaced violation of the Nuremburg code. I feel that this does not even remotely apply, since the code says, in layman’s terms, that it is wrong to initiate experimentation on a human subject when it is known that the outcome may be serious pain, injury, or death. “People have been cloning plants for thousands of years…Many common fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants are produced in this way from parent plant with especially desirable characteristics” (Cloning).
Why, then, are people so opposed to it now? Fear of the unknown begets anger and opposition. Society has no idea what may come of cloning or stem cell research, so they wholeheartedly combat them. A number of people believe they do know will happen, and their ideas are often incredible stretches of the imagination. In my opinion, the worst possible outcome of therapeutic cloning would be to discover that some conditions and diseases are actually irreversible or incurable.