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Ethical Issues Surrounding Human Cloning February 11, 2009

Posted by bmielenhausen in Medicine, Science & society.

Ever since Dolly the sheep was cloned back in 1996, cloning became a hot button issue with many people concerned about what we can do with new scientific advancements. Many of the fears people have from cloning come from a lack of knowledge about the process.

When human cloning first became a concern, Hollywood made many movies about armies of Hitler’s and the like coming to get normal Americans, when the truth is not only would that be the most expensive army on the planet, the clones would be unlikely to trained in time before they die, not even mentioning the fact that clones do not possess the same mind as the donor, that is a product of setting and circumstance. There are, however, many issues with human cloning that do pose ethical and physical questions that need to be answered if we are ever to conduct human cloning.

Technical and medical safety: This is the prime, number one reason trials of human cloning have never taken place. The success rate of an implanted egg coming to age is less than 1,000 to 1. At these rates no clone would be worth the hefty price tag that would come with it. Also, in clones of other types of animals (Sheep, cats, etc) birth defects are much higher than that of natural birth. LOS or Large Offspring Syndrome causes the clone to grow too large inside the womb of the host, causing birthing difficulties or death. Along with the increased risk of birth defects, clones would also suffer from “old age”, meaning symptoms normally associated with the elderly like hip and joint problems and even senility, much earlier in their lives. Some scientists estimate a human clone would have to have their hips replaced in their mid teens. Even Dolly died early at 4 years old, most sheep live to at least 10 years.

Undermining the concept of reproduction and family: These issues become more of a problem in a physiological sense, disrupting the normal family unit to include clone “children”. Some people believe that clones will disrupt the normal human mating process because everyone will want an exact copy of themselves, not just passing on half their genetic information.

Ambiguous relations of a cloned child with the progenitor: Again this has more to deal with the relationships that would occur between the clone and the progenitor, or genetic donor. In my mind I cannot think of any reason, other than perhaps medical benefits of having a genetic copy lying around, why anyone would clone themselves just to have, and if the clone was made for medical purpose, is that truly fair for the clone, should they have a say as to if they even want to donate whatever they were created for.

Confusing personal identity and harming the psychological development of a clone: Most people seem to think that clones would be all messed up, both physically and mentally. I could only Imagine if the only reason I was created was not because my parents loved me and wanted to raise me, but because somebody needed a new organ or other donor part. And if you were a clone that was made to be raised as a normal child, knowing that you are the exact same as another human could be damaging. Every aspect of life would be compared to your donor, and chances are you would be nothing like your donor, at least as far as your mind and what you think.

Concerns about eugenics; Promoting trends towards designer babies and human enhancement: As soon as you start talking about cloning, people bring up genetic testing and super babies. I doubt we will ever clone a human being, even if we eventually have the technology to make it a viable option for most people because it would open a huge can of worms. If we eventually have the technology to pick out exactly what we want our kids to look like, exactly what traits we want to hand down to our children, we would create a caste system where you would have these “super babies” competing for the same jobs as “regular” people. I believe that we will get to a point where we eradicate the chance of all potentially harmful genes (cancer, Alzheimer’s, etc) just like we have for other such medical problems like polio.


Thanks for reading,

-Ben Mielenhausen



1. ur mom - September 2, 2009

i am a clone muwhahahahahahahahahaha

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