The Ethics of Cloning
On February 27, 1997, it was reported that scientists produced the first clone of an adult sheep, attracting international attention and raising questions on the morality of cloning. Within days, the public had called for ethics inquires and new laws banning cloning. Issues are now raised over the potentially destructive side of this scientific frontier. Many people are morally opposed to the possible consequences of women being able to give birth to themselves, or scientists seeking to clone "genetically superior" humans. Others argue that the positive effects of cloning will outweigh the negative. The issue over whether cloning humans is ethical is receiving more and more attention as scientists successfully experiment with cloning and gene therapy, coming closer to making human clones a reality.
An ethical basis for the rejection or acceptance of cloning in science can be based around several different theories of morality. Interestingly, those supporting a Utilitarian approach, seeking the greatest good for the greatest number, can be found on both sides of the issue. Some advocates of cloning argue that allowing society to benefit from cloned organs, for example, will outweigh the detrimental consequences of that may result from the abuse of cloning technology by a few scientists. At the same time, those adamantly against cloning argue that denying some individuals their right to a cloned child or organ is necessary to protect society from the negative affects this technology will have on humanity in general. Another common ethical approach to cloning is based on Kant's principles of autonomy and self-determination. Those supporting this theory often believe that in many cases the individual has a right to benefit from cloning if they chose. However, some have argued that cloning objectifies humanity or treats life as a means to an end. Kant's ideas of autonomy can then also be used against cloning. In the specific arguments given on both sides of the issue that follow, both of these moral philosophies are apparent.
In understanding why some chose to reject or accept the practice of cloning, basic knowledge how cloning is achieved becomes helpful. Some reject cloning because they believe humans are "playing God", others claim that scientists do not "create life" by cloning any more than they would in the practice of in vitro fertilization. According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, cloning is "to reproduce or propagate asexually". This is obviously not the traditional form of human reproduction. There are three basic methods of cloning: separating the embryo and making twins with the same genetic make-up, taking a cell from a fertilized ovum when the cell begins to split and replace it in another female's ovum, or nuclear transplantation (Travis). The famous cloning of an adult ewe, who's offspring was named Dolly, was accomplished through the second method by Dr. Ian Wilmut and his...