The continuing debate over human cloning

How would you feel if you found out someone had deliberately duplicated your genes and made exact copies of you? Likewise in a poll on Twitter that ran in parallel: Most would be disturbed by someone duplicating them.

The continuing debate over human cloning

She was the first mammal to enter the world following a process of reproductive cloning, making the event a spectacular scientific breakthrough. SCNT is thus a powerful, and often effective, form of animal cloning. This provoked political and ethical debates that have never truly stopped.

Public discussion of cloning gradually receded in prominence as new issues arose to dominate the airwaves and the headlines, notably the threat of jihadist terrorism following the attacks on September 11, But issues relating to cloning technology remain crucial to debates over biomedical research and its regulation.

The announcement — with a description of the method used to bring Dolly into existence — triggered a feverish worldwide response because of the possible implications for human cloning.

It was immediately obvious that SCNT could, in principle, be used to create human babies. Across the world, many countries banned human cloning - often with significant punishments, such as lengthy jail terms, even for attempting such a thing. The case against cloning The actual arguments against human cloning are extremely varied, and I cannot elaborate them all here.

I go into more of them, and in far more depth, in my book, Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to pin down precisely what any of these claims really mean in the context of bioethical debate.

Some critics fear that children created via SCNT would be subjected to unfair expectations of duplicating the talents and achievements of whoever provided their nuclear DNA.

Sometimes the critics speak in terms of the autonomy of the child being violated, diminished or denied, although it can be very difficult to spell out exactly what this amounts to. Some critics worry about a larger social effect, or even an effect on our species, if cloning restricted the diversity of children being born perhaps because parents and doctors might look for donors with a narrow range of characteristics, such as possessing high intelligence and meeting certain standards of physical beauty.

Dolly is born! Announcement and reaction

On one version of the approach, this would, in turn, set us upon a path to unequivocally horrible social outcomes. Thus cloning supposedly confronts us with a slippery slope to another slippery slope … which seems like a tenuous style of argument.

Though some of these fears may have an element of truth, they are all exaggerated.

The continuing debate over human cloning

To some extent, however, all of this is moot. Over the past twenty years, we have enjoyed success in cloning many mammalian species, but no one has cloned a human being. Indeed, we have been frustrated in efforts to clone other primates such as apes and monkeys. Even if we did conceive a human embryo through SCNT, and we then managed to bring it to term, the odds are very high that the result would be a seriously deformed child.

Nor is it what SCNT research is really about from the point of view of reputable medical researchers. Allow me to explain. Although some ethical issues are raised with therapeutic cloning — including a concern that the associated research destroys human embryos — the idea has been obtaining legal acceptance in some countries, usually subject to tight government regulation.

Your complete source for natural health and wellness

If we start to see impressive results from therapeutic cloning, with new therapies emerging from the research, I expect that it will eventually obtain the same wide acceptance that IVF — in vitro fertilization — now enjoys in Western countries. However, the early debate was very one-sided.

The initial response to the dramatic Nature article by Wilmut et al. Since then, the fear-mongering has partly died down, but not before a great deal of draconian legislation was enacted across the world. Little chance was given for calmer voices - or any dissenting voices - to be heard before governments took action.

As it seems to me, calmer voices eventually won the academic debate. There is a strong sense, within the field of secular bioethics, that the early arguments against human reproductive and therapeutic cloning were flawed.

However, dissenters lost the political debate almost before it began. Politicians, journalists, many academics, and the general public in our Western liberal democracies greeted the very idea of human cloning with a cascade of hostility.In , the California legislature declared a "five year moratorium on cloning of an entire human being" and requested that "a panel of representatives from the fields of medicine, religion, biotechnology, genetics, law, bioethics and the general public" be established to evaluate the "medical, ethical and social implications" of human cloning.

Feb 12,  · A version of this article appears in print on February 12, , on Page B of the National edition with the headline: Debate Over Cloning in U.S. Remains Intense. The political debate over human embryonic cloning centers on two techniques: Therapeutic cloning, or the cloning of embryos with the intention of destroying those embryos to harvest stem cells.

Reproductive cloning, or the cloning of embryos for the purpose of implantation. With the cloning of a sheep known as Dolly in by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the idea of human cloning became a hot debate topic. Many nations outlawed it, while a few scientists promised to make a clone within the next few years.

As human cloning, in theory, is producing an exact genetic duplicate of either a human cell, tissue, or reproductive (in which a cloned embryo would rise into becoming another human being), the different arguments both for and against human cloning vary according to the level of human cloning that is being discussed.

- Representation of Cloning in the Media Since the birth of Dolly, the cloned sheep, the debate over human cloning has been characterized in the media as an ethical debate. When scientists announced that they had cloned an adult sheep, the public also heard that cloning humans was possible.

The Human Cloning Debate | alive