.. ts might decide to clone a child with a fatal disease in order to help save the first child. While such cloning for harvest of a one-of-a-kind organ such as a heart is not considered likely to be allowed, the possibility exists. Even if an organ such as a kidney, however, is harvested, to take it from another child created for that purpose is to arguably abuse it. Again, the issue of whether the child is fully human with all the same rights is at issue. Also involved in that case is how the child will be treated.
Would it forever be a second class sibling, cared for but not loved as a true child? (Kluger and Thompson). Indeed, the issue of the division of humanity into the natural and the unnatural is a great concern. It is entirely possible that there would be the creation of a new and stigmatized social class of The Clones (Herbert, Sheler, and Watson). Another danger is the sort of homemade eugenics where families decide the traits and capacities they want in their children. Genetic analysis of embryos may give parents the opportunity to select the best of their fertilized embryos, whatever their definition of best, and destroying the rest (Kevles). Such designer children would potentially skew the entire development of humanity. Also, there are a number of groups already looking upon cloning as a way to further their own agendas. Under the flag of defending reproductive rights, certain gay rights advocates are pushing the idea of cloning as a means of preserving homosexuality in a general population which might otherwise decide to eliminate it.
Also, cloning has been recognized as giving women complete control over reproduction, possibly eliminating the need for men all together (Manning). Essentially clones are twins to their DNA donors. As such, the possibility is raised that adults who clone themselves set themselves up to be fathers or mothers to their twins. This raises a host of questions. There is, after all, the possibility that much of the cloning to be done will be for purposes of ego.
Generally, it is expected that either adults will attempt to clone themselves so that they may have immortality in a sense. This is also possible with the idea that someone of great intelligence or ability should be preserved for a second round. For example, the common metaphor is should we not create as many Einsteins as possible. But there is little agreement as to how much of the success of great thinkers is attributable to genetics and how much to environment, the era when they live, and factors included in their individual raising. Even if genetics were a major factor, ethicists say that diversity is the main factor in our population that leads to the rise of great men in any field (Kluger and Thompson).
One of the dangers of cloning is that it exactly threatens this diversity. Nevertheless, clones would not be exact copies of their donors. Indeed, even if society desired a hundred Einsteins, there is no guarantee that the clones would find the same path to physics or even become more than ordinary citizens (Herbert, Sheler, and Watson). Another ethical concern is the unknown ramifications for the clones themselves. It is known that over a lifetime, DNA can degrade within a person, causing changes in the sequence as continued replication takes a toll.
Where cloning takes place with adult DNA, it is not yet known whether this would affect the life span of the child created (Herbert, Sheler, and Watson). Also at issue is the possibility that clones would be more subject to disease, and indeed that humanity itself might have greater susceptibility if cloning were to become widespread. Science has long known that when living things share the exact same genetic structure, they become much more vulnerable to viral diseases. Sexual reproduction with its combining of the genes of both parents helps keep the immune system vital and holds communicable diseases at bay. With the increase in killer viruses, this is of major concern (Kenen).
If cloning takes place before sufficient animal studies are undertaken, then there is a risk to the clone that is another reason for not allowing the procedure until more is known. Another disturbing possibility with cloning is the control of the source of the DNA. Since everyone gives off cells all the time naturally, as in lost hairs or skin cells, it is conceivable that a person could be cloned without their knowledge or consent. Each cell given off contains a full complement of DNA. Even such things as blood samples or a trip to the dentist could be the source for such activity. While such action would be essentially criminal, there is no way to stop it from a scientific standpoint. Such drive-by cloning could allow people to fulfill a number of fantasies for the unscrupulous.
The commercial value of an athletic pedigree or a well known singing voice, or the ability to have children of otherwise impossible parents would make such cloning attractive to certain segments of society who prey on others for money (Herbert, Sheler, and Watson). Similarly, it is theoretically possible to clone the dead. While there are more problems with this technologically, if the cells were taken soon after death, the DNA might be harvested and frozen for later use. The social and ramifications of this are not pleasant, and the effects on any child so produced might well be psychologically scarring (Herbert, Sheler, and Watson). Thus, human cloning has a number of ethical pitfalls.
It has been shown through human history that there are many people, individually, in groups, or as governments, who wish to control the future of humanity through its biology. The theories of eugenics have made given structure to these desires, and the greatest danger in them is the idea that humanity should be shaped to some specific ideological or biological model based on preconceived ideas of what the future holds. In reality, no one knows what environmental or social situations humanity will face in the future. Diversity has been the best protector of mankind, making it possible for the population to have all the elements available at any time for what situations must be met. Cloning threatens that diversity, and also threatens our ideas of what it is to be human. Thus, before cloning is allowed, it is absolutely necessary to consider the harm that can be done and move to curb abuses.
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