Mai Abdelnabi - Northern Virginia Community College

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Dec 12, 2012 (5 years and 25 days ago)

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Abdelnabi
1


Mai Abdelnabi

Professor Ashkenas

ENG 112

27

June 2008


Human Reproductive Cloning

Opening a Pandora's Box

On July 5 1996, a team of scientists at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh created a
sheep named Dolly, who was the first mammal in history to be cloned from an adult cell.
This startling accomplishment was signed as a significant medical and scientific
bre
akthrough. But at the same time, the birth of Dolly generated a fierce
controversial
debate worldwide as it brought the world closer to the possibility of human cloning.
Proponents of human reproductive cloning argue that cloning may allow some people to
have children without the risk of the known genetic diseases. They also argue that human
cloning can serve as a new infertility treatment for infertile couples or gay couples who
can’t have a biologically related child in the usual way. On the other hand,
people who
are opposed to human reproductive cloning believe that cloning undermines respect for
human life and violates the individual’s right to genetic uniqueness.


Unfortunately, both therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning contain the
word “cloni
ng” and this creates a lot of confusion among the public. But it’s very
important to distinguish between these two types of cloning. Therapeutic cloning, also
known as research cloning, is the production of human embryos with the goal of
harvesting their
tissues to create organs for transplants or for research purposes. If it
becomes possible, therapeutic human cloning will help us cure various diseases such as
Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s, and heal the pains of many people. However,
reproductive clo
ning is very different. In very simple terms, reproductive cloning is a
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way of producing a genetic twin or a copy of an organism born earlier. The procedure for
doing this is very complicated and it involves three main steps. Scientists first extract the
g
enetic material (DNA) from the desired organism to be cloned. They then insert this
DNA into an egg cell whose nucleus has been removed. A brief electrical impulse is
usually needed to stimulate egg division. When this egg develops into an embryo, it is
im
planted into the uterus of a female (surrogate mother). The egg cell continues to divide
there, until a baby who is an exact copy of the original DNA donor is born.


But how close are we to reproductive human cloning anyway? The U.N.
University's Institut
e of Advanced Studies published a report in November 2007 warning
that “it is only a matter of time before a human being is cloned” (qtd. in Irvine). The
question is: if it becomes possible, should we allow reproductive human cloning? I don’t
think so. I
am strongly opposed to reproductive human cloning because currently its
potential risks and dangers greatly outweigh the potential benefits.

We must first consider the practicality of producing a human clone. Indeed,
proponents of reproductive human clonin
g may argue that as technology becomes more
advanced, cloning procedures will be perfected and then they will be used to clone
humans. While this is possible, our current capabilities and experiments on animals
indicate that the cloning procedure is remark
ably inefficient with high failure rates, that it
would be very unwise to even attempt it on humans. In experiments done on animals,
only “5 percent of attempts to clone have resulted in live births.”
(President’s Council on
Bioethics).
Also, it took 277
a
ttempts
and 29 implantations to produce Dolly the sheep,
and that was to clone a simple sheep. Hence, how long will it actually take us to produce
a human clone? And how much will this cost us? Attempts to clone humans will probably
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result in higher failu
re rates, since humans are more complex organisms. In

his article
“Ethics of Human Cloning: an O
verview”, Glenn McGee points out

that early human
cloning experiments

are likely to result in a number of clinical failures and lead to
miscarriages, the neces
sity of dozens or even hundreds of abortions.”


Advocates of reproductive human cloning also argue that cloni
ng can allow
couples at risk of producing a child with a genetic disease, to have a healthy child
.
However, there is
a problem with this view sinc
e

there
are

many physical and medical
risks associated with reproductive cloning, that haven’t yet disappeared.

C
lones who
actually
survive to birth

are

likely to suffer a wide range of health defects and
deformities
.

T
his has been indicated by all clonin
g experiments done on animals such as
cows, sheep and mice. Research studies have specifically shown
that
cloned animals
“tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor
growth and other disorders” (Cloning Fact sheet). R
espiratory and circulatory problems
have also been repeatedly observed in cloned offspr
ing who survive to term (Soules).
Why should we expect the outcomes of human cloning to be any different?
And
how
many abnormal

and deformed
babies will we have to produ
ce before producing a healthy
human clone
, which itself seems very unlikely
?


Even if the human clone survived, it is not guaranteed that it would develop
normally
. In other words, many health complications might not be revealed until the
clone is mature.

Some cloned animals looked perfectly normal at birth, but showed many
fatal and incurable health problems as they developed. There’s a particular concern that
the clone would have ‘old genes’, since it is derived from an already existing adult cell,
let’s

examine the evidence. W
hen Dolly was first born she appeared normal, but later on
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scientists discovered that the five years old sheep had arthritis. This was very puzzling for
the scientists, not because arthritis

is

uncommon in sheep
, but because it is

uncommon in
a sheep that young. What was even more puzzling for scientists is the fact that Dolly had
her arthritis in “two hind
-
leg joints where the infla
mmation usually does not occur.”
In
response to those res
ults, Ian Wilmut, the scientist

who created

Dolly, disappointedly
reported that

her

arthritis could be the result of some “genetic defect caused by
cloning.”
(Gribbin)

While the normal life span of the sheep is 11
-
12 years, Dolly died unexpectedly at
age six after being diagnosed with a progressive
type of
lung disorder

probably linked
to the cloning process. This type of lung disease is only common in older sheep.
Although Dolly’s death was “not definitively traceable” to the cloning process
, it
certainly highlighted the


possible health risks assoc
iated with reproductive
cloning.”
(Claulfield).
Also, when Dolly’s telomeres were measured, they were shorter
than those of similar
-
aged sheep. What are telomeres? These are the tips of chromosomes
which t
end to get shorter as the organism

gets older. Event
ually, when those telomeres
shrink to a certain point, the cell stops to divide and the person dies, and so we can use
telomeres to measure aging.
Since she had short telomeres,
cloning experts hypothesized
that Dolly suffered from premature aging. In othe
r words, Dolly was genetically older
than her birth date

(Robertson)
. So how old exactly was Dolly? Due to her short
telomeres and her premature arthritis
, scientists deduced

that Dolly was genetically as old
as her mother on the day of her birth.

Theref
ore, Dolly had

arthritis

at an unexpectedly young age
, she was genetically
older than her body age and
she died suddenly at age six

after being diagnosed with an
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incurable form of lung disorder. All of this raises many concerns and questions about the
repr
oductive cloning technology and highlight many of the potential threats to physical
well
-
being of a clone. Many

aspects about

the development

of a

cloned individual remain
unknown and unless we are certain to
a
reasonable degree that cloning does not harm
the
clone, we cannot simply go on and produce clones and let them and their parents suffer
for the rest of their lives.


Reproductive cloning does not only pose a threat to the health of the clone but
also to the health of the surrogate moth
ers as well as
the egg donors
.
In experiments done
on animals, cloned animals

were born monstrously large, causing many complications for
the surrogate mothers during pregnancy and labor. In the case of Dolly, she weighted 6.6
kilograms (or 14.5 pounds) on the day of her

birth
!

Also, since reproductive cloning is
very inefficient at the current time, it will need a huge supply of eggs posing serious
health problems

for the egg donors.

E
gg extraction is a

very complicated procedure and
hence, the

egg donors will have to b
e given many chemicals and “super
-
ovulatory drugs”
putting those donors at risk for

high blood pressure
, “damage to vital organs” and severe
bone and chest pain.
(

Byrne
)


But let’s assume

for a moment that the reproductive cloning technology becomes
so so
phisticated that it no longer jeopardizes the life of the clones or
the
surrogate
mothers. Let’s also forget about the medical and health risks associated with reproductive
cloning and pretend they don’t exist. How about the psychological an
d emotional ris
ks?


Proponents of reproductive cloning, like Lee Silver, argue

that cloned children are
not going to be harmed knowing their future physical development anymore than children
conceived in the usual way, who can still see their future image in the genes th
at they
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inherit from their parents. To make his point, Silver gives a good example. He says that
since he was teenager, he knew very well that he would inherit “the pattern of baldness”
that his grandfather expressed “thoroughly”. He also argues that as te
chnology becomes
more advanced and sophisticated, everyone will be able to learn more about his/her
genetic future. Additionally, Silver believes that just because the clone and the parent
have the exact same genes, this doesn’t mean that their lives are g
oing to be similar
, since
the environment and the upbringing also play a role in shaping our development (343).

While these are all valid arguments, I think a cloned child would still struggle to
establish his

own unique identity. Cloned children don’t simply

resemble their parents or
have a partial idea of how they might look like in the future, the way non
-
clones do.
Instead, they are exact copies of their parents and they know exactly how they will look
like

in the future. The clone will probably have a diminished sense of individuality and
personal autonomy,
just
knowing that another “copy” of him is living or has once lived.
And even

though the clone

might develop different behaviors, attitudes or person
ali
ty
traits due to the different environment

and upbringing, there will still b
e a striking
similarity in the

physical appearance

between the parent and the clone; since the physical
appearance is mainly determined by our genes
. This

striking similarity in t
he outside

appearance between the clone and his parent will be a constant reminder for both of them
of the circumstances of the clone’s conception.


Clones may also experience serious identity problems because of their parents’
expectations. Proponents of

human cloning, like Silver, may argue that there is no reason
to believe that the expectations of the clone’s parents are going to be “any more
unreasonable” than those of other parents (343). While this is true,

again

it is important to
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take into conside
ration that parents may expect even more from clones than non
-
clones
because as I have said before, clones are exact copies of their parents rather than simply
resembling their parents
,

and
because
the parents have determined “in advance what sort
of child

they will accept”

(President’s Council on Bioethics)
. The clones might then be
expected to posses
s

certain abilities or traits si
milar to those of the

parent
s
, putting the
clone under unbearable pressures to meet those expectations and fulfill the

parents

wishes. In the article “Reproductive Cloning Demeans Human Life”, it is argued that the

“expectations of their [the clones] lives may be shadowed by constant comparisons to the
life of the original.”
In addition, the clones might

feel that they are object
s that can be
easily discarded if they don’t meet those expectations.

Clones will also be denied the right of having a unique genetic constitution as
someone else has already had the same combination of genes.
Hence, they won’t have the
real opportunity t
o discover and explore their own unknown futures.
Some proponents of
reproductive cloning may respond by saying that identical twins are natural clones of
each other, but yet they are not harmed by sharing the same genetic composition. While
this could be
true, however, we can’t really compare artificially produced clones

to
identical twins because these two are still different. I
dentical twins are born on the same
day, raised together and more importantly “neither twin is yet known to the world”
(Preside
nt’s Council on Bioethics). Hence, none of the twins know
s

anything about the
physical traits of the other. But the

clone knows that someone who ha
s
the
same genetic
composition has already started and lived his life, and this makes a difference.

Another
p
otential
problem associated with
reproductive human
cloning that
people don’t seem to take into consideration
,

is that fact that cloning may create a new
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category of familial/biological relationships

that

presents serious personal and familial
problems. Le
t’s assume for a moment that people were able to c
lone themselves and
think about
how this would affect the structure of the family. The father of the cloned boy
would actually be his “genetic twin”

or brother,
and similarly the mother of a cloned girl
wo
u
ld be her twin sister. For the first time, the sister will be able to give birth to her twin
sister
! This is true because if we are talking from the genetic perspective, the clone is
actually a

delayed twin


fo
r the parent who contributed the

DNA
. The gra
ndparents will
be the genetic parents since all the genes of the clone come from this single set of
grandparents
. How would the clone feel with all of this confusion?

Moreover,

James Nelson points out that “a female child cloned from her mother
might deve
lop a desire for a relationship to her fat
her” (Kass 159). The father may also

want to have a relationship with his wife’s clone, who has the same physical appearance
as the woman he fell in love with 20 years ago. How might this affect the marriage
?
Certa
inly many serious and disastrous problems will result.

It is also important to realize that reproductive human cloning represents a degree
of power and control over the physical identity of the cloned person causing us to treat
human life as a commodity
, w
hich is created to preset specifications
. In nature, two
people come together and give rise to a new human being, but with cloning those people
are designing their end products. So I feel that cloned children would be the products of a
manufacturing proces
s or a means to the satisfaction of a particular desire rather than a
“gift”
,

and this violates respect for human life
. My

view is s
hared by John Conley who
points out that human cloning undermines respect for human life, human dignity and
individuality (3
47).
Conley also thinks that human cloning undermines the v
alue of
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human love. A child is usually the end product of a love relationship or a union between a
man and a woman. However, with cloning “a third person, the scientist in the laboratory,
invades
the once intimate drama of the generation of children.”(349)

Another widely used argument in favor of human cloning is brought forward by
Panayiotis Zavos, a leading researcher in male reproductive physiology. He argues that
cloning can help sterile couple
s or childless

couple
s

to fulfill their dream of parenthood.
While this might be true in some way, I have three objections to this view. First of all,
even
if
reproductive human
cloning becomes possible

and legal,

it is likely to be very
expensive

(because

it would be a new technology) and hence, not all infertile or gay
people will be able to use it as an infertility treatment
.
Only a certain wealthy class of
people will actually be able to benefit from this technology. Also
, the clone would be
biologicall
y related to only one of the parents, not both. How would the other partner feel
since he hasn’t really contributed any genes to the clone?
Finally, in

his article “Human
Reproductive Cloning Is Not Ethical”,
Michael R. Soules
correctly points out that
inf
ertile or childless couples are often “desperate”, and their hopes for having a child can
often interfere with their ability to make wise and balanced decisions. Hence according to
Soules,

anyone who justifies reproductive cloning on the basis of requests

from infertile
patients is pandering to a vulnerable audience.”

Proponents of reproductive cloning
very
often compare it to IVF
and argue that
cloning is just an extension of one’s reproductive right.
However, IVF and reproductive
cloning are two very dif
ferent processes that it would be inaccurate to compare them as if
they were similar. In vitro fertilization produces a child through the union of a sperm and
an egg and hence the child is still genetically unique and still has two parents. Bu
t i
n
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cloning,

only one parent is needed and the child produced is not unique since he is a
genetic
cop
y of someone born earlier. Therefore
,

we cannot really call reproductive
cloning an alternative method of sexual reproduction. Instead, it is
replication or more
preci
sely

a form of asexual reproduction.

Jonathan Colvin
’s

essay

“Me, My clone and I” is a good example of how the
views of people and even intelligent thinkers, can sometimes be clouded by their hopes
and personal desires. Colvin, a freelance technical write
r, suffers from cystic fibrosis, a
genetic disease that will probably kill him by the time he is thirty five. Colvin wants to
clone himself to see his clone achieve what Colvin could not achieve and he just assumes
that cloning will produce a new improved
version of him. Colvin hopes that this clone
will “climb Mount Everest, singlehandedly sail around the world” or have a happy life
with his family and children “without the fear that his children will be prematurely
fatherless.”(209)

Surprisingly, Colvin d
oesn’t seem to master the science.

Cystic fibrosis is a
genetic disease and Colvin’s clone would have the exact same genes as Colvin and this
means that his clone will also have cystic fibrosis. Hence, there’s no point in producing a
clone who is going to
suffer all through his life, the same way Colvin is suffering.
Influenced by his own personal hopes, Colvin just assumes that cloning will produce a
new ‘healthy Colvin’, which isn’t really true.

Supporters of human cloning often claim that cloning can
help people solve their
problems or seek redress for their loss by for example, allowing them to replace a dead
child.

While this could be true, I disagree because we also have to take into account how
this technology could be misused and how it might lead

to suffering and pain, instead of
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helping people solve their problems.

The

movie

Godsend


directed by Nick Hamm
vividly
depicts ho
w reproductive human cloning, if made possible, could be abused by
“immoral”
scientists who are
strongly
driven by their own

personal gains. In this movie,
Paul’s and Jessie’s child, Adam, dies in a tragic car accident when he is only eight years
old. Having lost their beloved son, his parents are devastated and that is when they are
approached by
Dr. Richard Wells,
a fertility

expert
. Dr. Richard Wells offers to clone
their dead son, essentially bringing the

boy

back and reuniting the
broken family.

Though illegal, the couples agree and they soon give birth to an identical boy and
name him Adam. New Adam’s life follows a comfor
table and perhaps a predictable
pattern, until he reaches the age at which old Adam died, and that is when strange things
start to happen to him.
It is later

revealed that the scientist placed some DNA from

his
own dead son into the couple’s cloned child,
in an attempt to also bring back his son.

After learning this horrific truth, the couple struggle to accept what they have done and
what has been done to them. While the movie is not 100% scientifically accurate, it at
least clearly demonstrates how clonin
g can be more destructive and devastating than
beneficial to people.

Contrary to what many people might think, human cloning won’t reduce the
diversity of the human gene pool overnight, because few people would choose or have
access to this means of repro
duction. However, the real concern is what will happen if we
combine human cloning with genetic engineering i.e. if we produce human clones whose
genes have been modified to bring about certain ‘desirable’ features. In the past, people
could only choose wh
at genes or traits their children inherited by picking their mates on
the basis of certain qualities and physical features. But this will no longer be the only way
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of “designing” our children, once genetic engineering becomes possible. In his article “A
Th
reat to Our Coherent Human Future”, Bill McKibben points out that “cloning would be
a necessary step toward the genetic manipulation of embryos

toward adding IQ or
muscle mass” or even adding “behavioral and emotional traits.” (A15). Hence, if human
clonin
g were eventually combined with genetic engineering to create “perfect” children
for an elite class of wealthy people, this could spell the end of social inequality forever,
and perhaps in the very long
-
term even the end of human race.

The risks of reprodu
ctive human cloning simply outweigh its benefits and that is
why it should be banned. To perfect the cloning procedure, which itself is unlikely, we
will have to experiment on humans and destroy of human life on a massive scale and that
is unethical and im
moral. Similarly, producing deformed or abnormal babies and putting
their lives at risk for the sake of research, violates the basic ethical principles.
Additionally, clones would struggle to establish their own unique identities and to follow
their own un
restricted life paths. They will always feel different knowing that they came
into this world via a different method. Even worse, cloning will undermine the parent
-
child relationship. In my opinion, if reproductive human cloning is legalized, the effects
w
ill be catastrophic especially for the future generations. Human cloning is certainly a
perilous technology that should strictly be banned.






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Works Cited


Byrne, Pat. “HUMAN CLONING: U.S. feminists warn on cloning risks.”
NewsWeekly
.
23 June 2008. <

http://www.newsweekly.com.au/articles/2006sep30_c.html>


Claulfield, Timothy. "Human cloning laws, human dignity and the poverty

of the policy
making dialogue.
"
BMC Medical Ethics
. 2008. 23 Jun 2008
<http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472
-
6939/4/3/>.

"Cloning Fact Sheet."
Human Genome Project Information
. 29 Aug 2006. U.S.
Department of Energy Office of Science. 23 Jun 2008
<http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml>.

Colvin, Jonathan. “Me, My clone, and I.”
Writing in the
Disciplines
. Eds. Mary Lynch
Kennedy, William J. Kennedy, Hadley M. Smith. Upper Saddle River, New
Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004. 208
-
210


Conley, John J. “Narcissus Cloned.”
Writing in the Disciplines
.

Ed. Mary Lynch
Kennedy
, William J. Kennedy
.

Upper Saddle River, New Jers
ey: Pearson
Prentice Hall, 2008: 347
-
350


Godsend
. Dir. Nick Hamm. Perf.
Greg Kinnear
,
Rebecca Romijn
,
Cameron Bright
, and
Robert De Niro
. Lions Gate Films, 2004.


Gribbin, August. "
Dolly's dilemma: Dolly the cloned sheep has arthritis, which may
becom
e a pain for researchers, too
."

FindArticles.com
. Feb 4, 2002.
CNET
Network.
23 Jun
. 2008.
<
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1571/is_4_18/ai_82651676/pg_1?tag=art
Body;col1
>


Irvine, Dean
.
“You, again: Are we getting closer to cloning humans?”
CNN.com
/europe
19 No
v.
2007
. 23 June 2008
<
http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/11/16/ww.humancloning/
>


Kass, Leon. “The Wisdom of Repugnance.”
The Human Cloning Debate
. Eds. Glenn
McGee, Arthur Caplan. California: B
erkeley Hills Books, 2004. 137
-
172


McGee, Glenn. "The Ethics of Human Cloning: An Overview."
At Issue: The Ethics of
Human Cloning
. Ed. John Woodward.
San Diego:
Greenhaven Press,
2005.
Opposing Viewpoints
Resource Center
. Gale. Northern Virginia Community
College. 23 June 2008
<
http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.vccs.edu:2048/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet
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=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010028216&s
ource=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=viva2_nvcc&version=1.0
>




McKibben, B
ill
.

“A Threat to Our Coherent Human Future
.”
Washington Post

06 Jan
.



2003
:
A15


President's Council on Bioethics
. "Cloning Humans Is Unethical."
At Issue: The Ethics of
Genetic Engineering
. Ed. Maurya Siedler. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.
Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
. Gale. Northern Virginia Community
College. 10 June 2008
<http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.vccs.edu:2048/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet
=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010192219&s
ource=gale&srcprod=OVRC
&userGroupName=viva2_nvcc&version=1.0>.


Robertson, Nic. “
Scientists: Cloned sheep Dolly has 'old' DNA.”
CNN.com
. 26 May
1999. 19 April 2007. <
http://www.cnn.com/NATURE/9905/26/dolly.clone.02/
>

“Reproductive Cloning Demeans Human Life.

Opposing Viewpoints: Cloning
. Ed.
Tamara L.Roleff. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2006


Silver, Lee. “Jennifer and Rachel
.”
Writing in the Disciplines
.

Eds. Mary

Lynch


Kennedy, William J. Kennedy. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson



Prentice Hall, 2008: 340
-
346


Soules, Michael R. "Human Reproductive Cloning Is Not Ethical."
Current
Controversies: Medical Ethics
. Ed.
Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven
Press, 2005.
Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center
. Gale. Northern Virginia
Community College. 23 June 2008
<http://find.galegroup.com.ezproxy.vccs.edu:2048/ovrc/infomark.do?&contentSet
=GSRC&type=retrieve&tabID=T010&
prodId=OVRC&docId=EJ3010053250&s
ource=gale&srcprod=OVRC&userGroupName=viva2_nvcc&version=1.0>.


Zavos, Panayiotis. “Reproductive Cloning Is Moral.”
At Issue: The Ethics of Human
Cloning
. Ed. John Woodward. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2005.









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