The worst motives of the parents

Is this a too simplistic view of human behaviour? Given the right information and counselling, is it too much to expect someone to view a clone of themselves the same as they would one of their normal children, and why should we assume the worst motives of the parents? It is clear that a clone can never be identical to their twin due to slight DNA differences, different gestational times, and different parents with an altogether different history, upbringing and experience of life. Even identical (Siamese) twins have a different personality when sharing exactly the same genotype and childhood environment9.

The idea that parents will cause psychological harm by overshadowing their cloned children revolves around the lay idea of genetics being responsible for personality (8. p250), if society’s issues with genetics and personality changed however, this argument would fall flat (8 p244). The idea that parents may cause harm to their children due to inadequate factual information (in this case the idea that genotype=personality) could be applied to any parent for any reason, for example a parent refusing to vaccinate its child believing it would be better off to obtain natural immunity.

If this is the case who is qualified to sit in judgement over who is allowed to reproduce by cloning? Cloning is also an option available to prevent the passage of genetic disease where both parents may carry a recessive defective gene. One of the couple can then “opt out” of passing on their DNA to their child. This would allow the couple not to participate in prenatal diagnosis which may result in termination of the afflicted embryo. Should such a morally justifiable reason in a small percentage of people open up the opportunity to those with misguided or less than adequate reasons for cloning?

That is, should a small number of people suffering “open the floodgates” to the masses, potentially damaging society permanently? Prevention of disease may also be an increasingly hollow argument with new and improved fertilisation techniques available (such as removing DNA from an infertile woman’s oocyte and transferring to a viable oocyte). Advances in somatic gene therapy may also soon allow the treatment and management of these genetic diseases3.

If the potential parent clone has demonstrated health and intelligence or other desirable characteristics, is it not their duty to pass on the best genetic package they can offer without the gamble of sexual reproduction? One generation has the responsibility of passing a healthy quality of life towards the next. Human cloning research is illegal in Britain. If another country proved it to be safe and it still remained illegal here, rather than actively harming future generations, would we be omitting to benefit them? Unfortunately, the physical and social effect on future generations could never be predicted. (7 p102).

The argument for passing on sound genetic material to the next generation usually brings up the subject of eugenics and Huxley’s Brave New World. Reasons against human cloning state that once a line is crossed (referring to asexual reproduction), it will be difficult to stop crossing more and more lines. (7 p144). For example we could give a child a better chance by removing certain undesirable genes such as breast cancer genes or ones increasing the chances of heart disease. After that it might be better to give it an even better chance by perhaps adding a gene that might enhance its immune system or correct sight problems.

This could eventually via small steps lead to segregation of the entire species in to those more genetically superior and those thought to be inferior. Restrictions on reproduction already exist in China; it might be that such a regime demands their citizens to participate in eugenics. If that was the case, it would be hard to think that the rest of the world would merely stand and watch but attempt to better them selves as well. In answer to this we must consider that this technology doesn’t actually exist and is probably a while away yet, if it did those living in free nations would not allow a government to coerce them in to this.

Should the technology be available there would be very strict criteria for its use if it was ever used at all. The fact is that it still requires large numbers of donor eggs to clone somebody; these eggs would have to be obtained from consenting women and gestated inside a consenting surrogate mother. It is possible that some women may be exploited (as is already occurring when surrogate mothers are paid for the use of their wombs, and eggs are sold on the internet), but mass production of genetically superior individuals would involve some sort of rounding up of women and using them as baby factories.

And what if private eugenics took place? No state control and lack of definition of “improvement” would be in place. (7 p146). To this I would argue that it is highly unlikely (especially in the UK under governance of HFEA) to begin with but if it is to happen, it will occur whether cloning is made legal or not, this would exist outside the law and would be out of its control. Should it ever occur however, the very few that are produced would do well in life while the rest of us live on. I don’t think the world would come to an end. It may happen that a millionaire marries a nai??

ve woman and persuades her to have four of his cloned children. (Pence, Gregory E. (et al. ) page 146. Who’s Afraid of Human Cloning? 1998) “At worst they will be curiosities, at best novelties. They will grow in to adults and separate and the world would keep turning. ” Psycho-social issues Effects on psychology of the cloned individual have already been discussed with regard to parental attitude and control, but even if these arguments were unfounded it mat be the case that a clone couldn’t fit in to a normal family role or place in society.

Others may look at the cloned child as different and as a consequence treat them differently. Should the identity of one of the first cloned children ever be found out, interest in it by the media and others in society would probably promote it to celebrity status. The fact remains however, that this child would be equal to every other and could demand the same rights as anyone else. The cloned child as any other would have no control over its origins and the fact that it was created differently to most children; any prejudicial treatment warrants discrimination (7 p243).

Safe cloning techniques used in reproduction would not make a genetically superior or inferior person which for example could be used to harvest human organs, which is another fear placed by sceptics. It would be suggesting that someone might have a child of the same tissue type and remove its brain at birth allowing it to grow as an organ factory, it could also be suggested that somebody with an organ failure might take their identical twin to a hospital and have them killed for the use of their organs. This couldn’t happen as it is called murder.

There is even less chance of this in the UK as stem cell cloning for research is only allowed up to 14 days of embryonic life. Should a person have a cloned child legally in society, it is likely that it would be near impossible for others to tell the exact process leading to their creation. The parent would be many years older and look very different. Leon Kass has argued that once a cloned female reached adolescence, she may resemble the same woman her father had fallen in love with, possibly causing feelings of competition, rivalry and jealousy within the family (at best)4 .

On the other hand there is the example that a man may fall in love with one identical twin and not the other, though sharing the same DNA, they are not the same person (9 p125). The idea has also been put forward that should a cloned individual discover their genetic ancestry, whether it be from a stranger “DNA donor”, a parent, or even another deceased relative, the psychological impact caused would render the whole process completely unethical. On the other hand, awareness of genetic origin could bring upset for those naturally conceived, for example if they were to discover their mother was a prostitute, or father a Nazi in the war.

If cloning is banned as a result of potential psychological harm, it could be argued that others capable of inflicting such potential harm on their children should also be banned from reproducing. At what point does this harm become too great to warrant non-existence. It has also been found that children born of IVF (who may also not receive genetic input from both parents), are reported to feel “special” opposed to unvalued (8 p245). This is likely to be due to the extent of the love of the parents for that child, and the efforts they went to just to bring it in to the world.

The advantages of genetic variability put a strong case against cloning. It is our variability that enables us to survive and adapt to changing conditions, such as new strains of pathogens. Should cloning be used on a large scale, our ability to fight off new infections may be compromised6. The future There is no doubt that biotechnology is advancing at an astounding rate. At present technology allows human cloning as a possibility. It does not allow the practice of eugenics and mass creation of a genetically superior race.

Developments are occurring however, such as the production of a “false womb” which is approximately “10 years from being fully functional” 5. This is designed to assist infertility from a different angle and save foetuses from miscarriage. Could it also mark the beginning of mass production? Other technological advances may one day allow same sex couples to have child by gamete fusion. In the case of two gay men, they may be able to implant their child in to the false womb.

There is no doubt the technology is coming, but it is how we use it that will determine man’s future. Conclusion: once human cloning is proven to be safe, would it be ethical? The controversy is dependant on how the technology is going to be used. Mass production of genetically enhanced people should never occur. But why would anyone want to do this anyway except to build a superior society with an advantage over the rest of the world – most likely as an advantage in war – which is already unethical.

It would also require mass use of (consenting) surrogate mothers, and take many years for the clones to reach adulthood. The most likely use in the near future for cloning would be to reproduce. Arguments against have been the psychological effects on the clone due to the motives of the parent(s) as well as the issues involved with the structure of the family. Fears of crossing a boundary, desensitising society bit by bit have also been put forward, eventually leading to some snowballing effect of limitless proportions i. e. the “slippery slope” argument. 7p66

Arguments for cloning have consisted of those allowing infertile couples to reproduce whilst maintaining a genetic link to their child, as well as enabling human choice to be sustained. I personally feel that human reproductive cloning would be ethical. Yes, it may create certain family problems but I would argue that every family has its own set of problems and yet we all usually still manage to cope. The different childhood conditions, age gap between the parent and the ability of humans to deal with whatever the world throws at them make me think it would not be as much of a problem as the critics make out.

Obviously, water tight restrictions and regulations to govern such a technology’s use need to be drawn up to prevent its abuse. Due to the small scale of reproductive cloning therefore, I think the world has nothing to fear and will not be significantly altered beyond recognition. (Glenn McGee. The human cloning debate page 286;2000) “In a certain way, psychologically and socially, we humans clone ourselves. Look at teenagers, they all wish to be the same way, to imitate each other.

That to me is a more serious issue – how our propaganda, our social-psychological manipulation through the media, actually makes people behave as if they were clones”. (Word count 3600 excl. references)


1. Bryne J. A. , Gurdon J. B. (2002). Commentary on Human Cloning. Differentiation (2002) 69:154-157. http://www. reproductivecloning. net/cloning. pdf 2. National Bioethics Advisory commission. (1997). Cloning Human Beings; The science and application of cloning. http://www. georgetown. edu/research/nrcbl/nbac/pubs/cloning1/chapter2. pdf

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