Human Cloning Pros and Cons
Human cloning is a term used to define the creation of a human who is a genetically identical copy of another human. It does not refer to the reproduction of human tissue or cells, or to multiple monozygotic births. It refers to cloning of humans through artificial means. Monozygotic twins are natural occurrences in nature and are formed due to the natural processes of reproduction.
There are two types of human cloning that form a part of discussion, i.e. reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning involves the artificial production of human clones, whereas therapeutic cloning involves the cloning of cells from an adult human being and is used for medical therapies.
What is human cloning?
Human reproductive cloning is a form of reproductive technology that is performed with the aim of reproducing a genetically identical newborn of another human being. Such methods that initiate the cloning process are called either somatic cell nuclear transfer or nuclear transplantation.
The first step involves the removal of the nucleus from an egg cell and replacing it with a nucleus from an adult cell. Such a cell is then subjected to stimulation so that it begins dividing. In case, the procedure is a success, then the cell will undergo multiple divisions and form a ‘blastocyst’ or a pre-implantation embryo. Such an embryo is composed of around 150 cells.
The blastocyst is then placed in a uterus where it implants and forms a fetus. This fetus then develops into a newborn that is genetically identical to the adult cell donor. However, due to differences in prenatal and postnatal experiences and environments the newborn will not be an exact copy of the adult.
Therapeutic human cloning involves the creation of the blastocyst, but that is where the procedure stops. The blastocyst is not placed in a uterus for reproduction. The purpose of such cloning is to use the embryonic stem cells for research and clinical therapies for improved treatment. Such stem cells can be called unspecialized cells which can indefinitely renew themselves and under certain circumstances turn into more mature cells with specific and specialized functions.
The ethics of human reproductive cloning is an extremely controversial subject and human cloning is currently banned in the United States. However, non-reproductive human cloning is advocated by many and stem cell research continues to grow. This is because of the many therapeutic uses of stem cells in treating a number of diseases that plague the human world. Stem cell research is also responsible for the advancement of biomedical knowledge as well as the finding of several medical therapies to treat a number of life threatening conditions.
The debate on various religious, societal and ethical issues concerning stem cell research still continues and there is still the need for a broad consensus on the issue.
Human reproductive cloning risks
Reproductive cloning has been performed on a number of mammalian species such as goats, pigs, sheep, mice, etc. The data from these experiments have revealed a lot of compelling problems. A lot of such experiments have met with failure and only a few have been successful.
The first issue is the high rate of clone deaths within the utero during the early or late stages or even after birth. Also, many clones that survive have shown various birth defects.
The females that carried the clones developed several complications due to cloning related procedures and there were a few fatalities as well. Such problems may arise in human reproductive cloning as well.
Also, in order to carry out the cloning processes, there is need for several eggs which can result in adverse health effects on women. This can be due to hormonal injections used to promote egg production or the donation of eggs themselves which requires surgery.
Hence human reproductive cloning is very risky and there is not much definite data human cloning that can be depended on.
Human cloning pros
Some of the pros of human cloning are listed below:
- Many argue that cloning can be used to save the endangered species and prevent them from becoming extinct
- Human cloning can also effectively resolve the problems of infertility
- Additionally, if the procedure is developed to its full potential, then organ transplant will become a lot easier. Various disorders and disease can be easily treated and replacement of damaged organs and tissues will be possible.
- Parents will also be able to choose the traits of their child, which may result in the reproduction of intelligent and beautiful children
Human cloning cons
The cons of human cloning are discussed below:
- The critics of human cloning argue that the procedure interferes with the natural process of procreation. Additionally, it will lead to the creation of smarter, more intelligent and more beautiful children by those who can afford the procedure. This will further create a divide between the have and the have-nots
- Thus in a world that is full of division on the basis of class, race, creed, etc., this novel method of division will only result in more differences and eventual increase in hatred, strife, war, etc.
- Religious heads argue that human cloning interferes and challenges the authority of the supreme being, by making humans the creators of life
- The final argument is that experiments with animal cloning have met with many failures. It is debated that human life is not that worthless to be put through such risks.