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Scientists Unveil Human Cloning Effort

By quam in Op-Ed
Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 01:57:33 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

Reuters reports that a group of scientists has been formed in an "effort to clone humans to provide children to infertile couples." This is despite calls from bioethics committees preventing such activities. The group will "operate in an unnamed Mediterranean country."

While the UNESCO Bioethics Unit and many nations have voiced opposition to human cloning, human cloning may be inevitable. Some scientist in the world will want to pursue this activity, some person in the world will want a cloned human or to be cloned him/herself and some nation will allow for such activity, motivated by monetary rewards or not. And this looks like a promising scenario for the advancement of human cloning: "provide children to infertile couples." Besides, these couples would likely have a child if it was not for an unforeseen event. For instance, one couple volunteering to participate in this effort is a couple who "cannot conceive because the man's testicles were severed in an accident." Human cloning for infertile couples could be beneficial because infertile couples live with intense depression and many times require psychological care solely as a result of their infertility. Many times arguably unethical practices in the medical community, i.e.: primate research and primate modification, are practiced as the result of a crusade for the betterment of society. Even grassroots organizations have formed, such as the Clone Rights United Front, to advocate for policy changes permitting human cloning.

Many individuals oppose human cloning because human cloning contradicts their religious beliefs. I strongly agree with a doctor that "[w]e are individual persons, not Xerox copies to satisfy someone else's vanity." Doubting human cloning would remain an isolated practice of providing children to infertile couples and balancing that "we cannot know the medical, psychological, and social implications for a child created by cloning" with the advancement of society by providing children to infertile couples, I find the scale tipped in favor of not allowing human cloning.


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Human Cloning:
o Yes; scientists should have every right to clone at will. 24%
o Yes; but only for the betterment of society. 3%
o Perhaps; more research should be conducted. 45%
o No; never. 19%
o Well, its wrong, but only myself / loved one / an ex / super model you dream to be with should be cloned 7%

Votes: 57
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o reports
o calls from bioethics committees preventing such activities
o the UNESCO Bioethics Unit and many nations have voiced opposition to human cloning
o live with intense depression and many times require psychological care
o primate research
o primate modification
o have formed
o Clone Rights United Front
o human cloning contradicts their religious beliefs
o a doctor that "[w]e are individual persons, not Xerox copies to satisfy someone else's vanity."
o "we cannot know the medical, psychological, and social implications for a child created by cloning"
o Also by quam

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Scientists Unveil Human Cloning Effort | 10 comments (10 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Good and bad. (3.40 / 5) (#1)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:48:43 AM EST

On the bad side, the same selfish idiots who have nine kids at a time becuase they'd rather spend precious money on fertility drugs than adopt a child and actually make a difference will have yet another way to not make a difference.

On the good side, perhaps the chance of unnaturally large litters of children per birth will drop.

On yet another bad side though, we'll have another generation with the same genetic make-up of the idiots who spent thousands of dollars have a 'designer me' instead of helping a child out who really needs parents.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Fear of backlash (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by esjewett on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 09:58:36 AM EST

In my newspaper this morning, I believe it mentioned that Italy is the Mediterranean country in question.

Also, it seems that many scientists are objecting to this research at the current time because they fear the popular backlash against such procedures, especially if a disfigured or stillborn child is created (which is likely). There is concern over the laws that will probably be passed banning human cloning and scientific experiments using human embryos or tissue from human embryos. These laws would set back other research, such as stem cell research as well as human cloning research. Some of the scientists objecting believe that it is ethically acceptable to clone humans but the danger to the scientific community of attempting human cloning to soon is great.

AIM: esjewettii

Not if the Pope has his way (none / 0) (#3)
by tiamat on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:09:58 AM EST

The Globe and Mail reports on this issue, and also notes that it will likely not be Italy, because of Vatican disapproval.

[ Parent ]
Our twins were born nine months apart. (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by Sheetrock on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:11:53 AM EST

Human cloning, and pretty much any tampering with human development before birth, is a large can of worms that we probably shouldn't be rushing to open. I forgot where I read the following sentiment, possibly Slashdot, but the problem isn't so much with the successes as it is with the failures.

I got a whole bunch of interesting thoughts in my head when I read about this. If someone had a genetic abnormality that would cause them to die when they were twenty years old, would the doctors allow the person to go through with the process and create a child that would likely face the same problem? Will cloning as a solution to the problems of infertility give way to cloning for vanity or even (and I'm feeling a bit Sci-Fi at the moment) completely artificial humans? Could this actually lead to the point where we lower the value of human life to the level of other animal life, where growing a human for scientific experiments is perfectly acceptable?

It's definitely a cool dinner table discussion, but I don't feel that the ends justify the means when there are perfectly good children on this planet that could use a home.

Problems & Solutions (4.40 / 5) (#5)
by Eloquence on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:26:47 AM EST

In April 1997, I wrote a short analysis of the different situations where cloning may be desired. I listed the ethical problems I could see in each case, and the possible alternatives. (I have not considered the cloning of "brainless" humans, which I see as a real possibility and morally acceptable, although it is hard to present as a scenario without evoking strong negative emotions). The analysis is fairly old and there are certainly flaws (in language and logic), but I believe many of the arguments are still valid. It is here. This is what I wrote about ...

Asexual reproduction for infertile or gender-identical pairs


1. If the donator of the clone's genome lives near the child:

The child is regularly confronted with a version of itself that is older, more developed and has a certain personality. The child might learn to handle this if the reasons are explained early and clearly, but it might cause serious identity problems later. The child will know its later outlook and some personal characteristics it has not discovered in itself yet.

2. If the donator of the clone's genome also brings up the child:

The problem in I./1. is bigger, as when seeing its further-developed biological counterpart regularly the child is also able to watch its development. If the donator dies, this might cause heavy psychical damage.

In addition, it may be more difficult for the child to find friends, because cloning will probably remain an expensive and not widely used technique and potential friends will be frightened by it.

3. If the clone is confronted with its donator long after its birth and does not know that it is a clone / what a clone is:

The child is suddenly confronted with an older version of itself it was never prepared for. This can cause very big psychical damage.

4. If the clone is confronted with its donator later and was told that it is a clone in its youth:

Probably the best way to bring up a cloned child. It is unlikely that it will suffer from social isolation or psychical damage.

5. If multiple clones of the same age live together (with or without the donator):

Probably the most dangerous way to bring up clones. 2 cloned children living without their donator may grow up like twins, but the social problems will rise with the number of clones. Twins have always been some kind of "attraction" and are likely to have social problems especially in their early childhood. For one of the oldest laws of humanity does still count: Those that look "alien" are treated like aliens.

Much enlightenment about cloning is necessary before such clonings should be allowed.


1. Adoption:

The easiest way of getting children for gender-identical or infertile pairs. Collides with the idea of many parents to transport parts of themselves to their children (although it is doubtful that transporting biology is more important than transporting ideas, which is possible with adopted children, too). There are lots of poor children in the world who have to grow up without parents and adoption is therefore not only an ethical alternative to cloning but also an ethical alternative to natural reproduction.

2. In-Vitro Fertilization:

(Short explanation: The mature egg cells of a human female are fertilized with male sperm outside the body and then inserted into the uterus of the same or another human female for normal gestation.)

A good alternative to cloning that works for many pairs, especially since eggs, sperm and even embryos can be frozen for later impantation.

Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
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Oh, pedantic me... (none / 0) (#6)
by ar0n on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 11:48:38 AM EST

psychical should be psychological, unless you mean physical.

Otherwise, good post.

[ Parent ]
Why? (none / 0) (#8)
by Eloquence on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 02:39:41 PM EST

If I'd write this today, I would indeed write psychological, but only because it "feels" better. dictionary.com says about psychical:

1. Of, relating to, affecting, or influenced by the human mind or psyche; mental: psychic trauma; psychic energy. [...]

And about psychological:

1.Of or relating to psychology: psychological research; psychological jargon.
2.Of, relating to, or arising from the mind or emotions. [...]

So it seems to me that psychical is in fact more appropriate, since psychological primarily reflects to psychology itself and only secondarily to the mind. What do you think?
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

And what about adoption? (3.50 / 2) (#7)
by ContinuousPark on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 12:12:25 PM EST

This is my personal opinion on this but if I was in a situation when we can't have kids, I would rather adopt, maybe get a kid out from a rather difficult living situation (orphan living in a third world country going through a famine) and give him everything he probably wasn't going to have, than spend quite a lot of money paying for cloning. There are thousands of children in this world that are worthy candidates for adoption. And while adoption often presents some ethical consequences for the whole family, they would most certainly be minor to having your child understand that he's someone else's clon.

So, while human cloning could have many justifications (I'm no getting into that), I just don't think helping infertil couples is one of the best ones, but that's just my humble opinion.

What is Unethical About Cloning? (5.00 / 1) (#9)
by Logan on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 05:20:37 PM EST

I've yet to see a convincing ethical objection against human cloning. In fact, most objections seem to have almost nothing to do with ethics at all. I can only see ways in which human cloning could be a good thing. Fundamentally, it's a process by which we will increase our knowledge and experience in manipulating and controlling the mechanisms of creating and maintaining human life. This sort of research has the capability of prolonging human life and giving us the ability to control when and how we bring a new life into the world. It's a process by which one's desire to bring a child to term can be satisfied when more orthodox measures will not work, and it's an area of research where we can learn much about genetics and human biology.

Furthermore, I can see how it is unethical to prevent such research. A person's DNA is his or hers to do with as he or she sees fit. Why, as a society, are many of us so afraid of human advancement? Objections to the research are absurd, ranging from religious reasons to profound ignorance of the nature of genetics and human life. The author quotes, "We cannot know the medical, psychological, and social implications for a child created by cloning." Well, we cannot know the medical, psychological, and social implications for a child created through any other process, either, but do you see any serious movements to ban sex? (Maybe I'd better knock on wood). Personally, I'm sickened when I see people deliberate over whether or not they will allow someone they do not know, someone who is vastly more qualified than he or she is, to perform some activity that will never directly affect that person; I'm particularly disgusted when that activity is a scientific quest for knowledge. Why is there so much talk about what we will or will not allow others to do, and so little thought about what oneself should do?


my views (and I have lots of them!) (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by Seumas on Sun Jan 28, 2001 at 10:52:14 PM EST

You can attribute my contradictory views on subjects like this to being a Gemini, if you wish. On one hand, I can see a greater danger in cloning than I can in not cloning. We're pretty certain what will happen if we do not clone people. We're not so certain what will happen if we do. This does not mean that it is 'unethical', though.

First, I think it is best to take any religious element out of this. Everyone has a different religious belief -- and some of us have none. If there is some greater spirit out there and it takes offense to our behavior, then those of us involved will inevitably pay for our mistakes. But we can't act on such an unfounded assumption.

So, that leaves us with a decision based on mostly conjecture and projecting ourselves into the realistic predictions of the future. The things we need to consider are (and there are certainly more that I have not listed):

  • At what point will the continuance of exact genetic replicas through our evolution become a problem? At what percentage will the gene-pool become saturated?

  • What affect will gentic susceptibility to diseases have when the number of those susceptible are increased due to society at large?

  • How tolerant will the collaborative immune system of homo-sapiens be to a lack of genetic merging and diversity? The crossing of genetic code by two unrelated members creates a progeny that often is much less at risk of some diseases and illnesses (and other 'flaws') that either of the parents alone may have been at risk to. By creating one or more extensions of that exact gentic code, the risk is not averted and carries on into the next generation.
It is generally assumed that while mental instabilities may be carried across to the duplicate, the personality most likely will not. This means that the 'Hitler' arguement that is often introduced is an invalid one. However, mental instabilities that may have been over-ridden or skipped for a generation due to the merging of the genes of both parents could be continued in the clones, increasing the base-line existance of that flaw or imablance in the species for each additional clone.

Now, the topic directly at hand is whether people who cannot have children together should be able to clone themselves. Generall, I think fertility treatment is a bad idea. The whole issue of "I'm selfish and I must have a little me running around!" aside, I suggest that if nature does not agree that the couple should be reproducing, coaxing them through medical treatment so that they can not only beat nature, but blast natural selection away by having not one, two or three --- but seven, eight or nine!

In the case of fertility treatment, though, at least there is some degree of genetic mixing involved. Cloning one of the parents, though, provides an offspring that has not been mixed with the other parent's genes. So, for the topic this article is specifically addressing, I'd want to weigh producing multiple offspring from genetic mixing of codes that nature has deemed not to reproduce together against the continuance of (assuming you can limit the number of births from cloning) one parent's (already existing genetic code) genes -- and decide which has the least risk.

Personally, I think the best answer is to avoid both scenerios and give a child who needs a family, a home and the love that these people so apparently want to offer. It seems extremely self-indulgent to want to love a child so much, but only if it happens to have your blood -- as if that is some prerequisite for the value of a person.
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

Scientists Unveil Human Cloning Effort | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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