The creation of genetically identical copy of human is Human cloning. It is further theoretically divided into two: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Cloning of cells for the treatment of diseases is therapeutic cloning whereas producing an artificial clone of a human is reproductive cloning. Reproductive cloning and its possibility has raised various controversies about its ethical implications and legality. Should we extend the research of therapeutic cloning into reproductive cloning?
For research into reproductive cloning
As both reproductive and therapeutic cloning based on a similar technique which involves the in-vitro generation of a human embryo, prohibiting reproductive cloning is likely to result in severely hindering the therapeutic cloning. In the field of medicine, reproductive cloning could be used to cure life threatening disease. Reproductive cloning could also lessen the number of patients waiting for organ replacement, fast recovery of traumatic stress. Reproductive cloning could aid in our understanding of genetics and as a result find a permanent solution to the genetic diseases. As a result, genetic diseases could be eliminated. Moreover, the cloning technique is beneficial for improving the pregnancy success rate. It is a useful tool that can help those who has difficulties to have a baby by cloning the eggs used during IVF.
The possibility of cloning a human has raised a lot of controversies, ethical concerns and debate since the very beginning. The complexity of this issue itself and the prejudice of the people against reproductive cloning are the reasons of the differing opinions among the people and the ban of this novel technology. If the scientists, researchers and medical practitioners involve in the stem cell research come together they will be able to create an alternative framework where reproductive cloning is also viewed as an individual and a species enhancement technology by the people which could convince UN and other nations in the upliftment of its ban.
Cloning as a concept is not new – humans have been cloning plants and animals for decades. One might argue that reproductive cloning is just the next step in the evolution of humans.
Kantian theory states that the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty. From the Kantian standpoint as an engineer, the research in reproductive cloning is hugely beneficial since it gives the potential to reduce the suffering of a massive number of people by preventing many life-threatening diseases. Preventing the research might prevent the problem from ever being solved. This understanding also ignores the opinion of clones being manufactured like objects in the laboratory, opposition to the reproductive cloning. The theory also counters the argument against reproductive cloning to produce super humans, which may exacerbate inequality. However, research is not normally, if taken with Kantian theory, limited by whether the results may or may not lead to inequality. Additionally, from an economic perspective, in a utilitarian sense it could save money via removing the need to treat people with hereditary conditions.
Against research into reproductive cloning
Therapeutic clone exerts positive influences on medical engineering, however, if bioengineer keep extending research into reproductive cloning, the problems it brings to the ethic and society cannot be neglected. The impact of reproductive clone on the right to life and social ethics has triggered a strong public dispute. Moreover, reproductive clone is not well developed which has a low fertility rate. For example, the success of Dolly’s cloning experienced the failure of 277 cloned sheep which mostly are deformed. Who should take responsibility for the death of their lives.
The permission of governments, the funds from sponsors and study of researchers lead the extension into reproductive cloning. Reproductive technology can bring considerable economic benefits and reputation to governments, investors and researchers. Therefore, those kinds of people seek fame and gain continuously, developing irrational application in clone technology.
For example, Clonaid, which is an American-based human cloning organization, was researching on cloning human beings and claimed a baby called Eve was cloned in 2002. Human cloning will change the original fertility model and ethic relationship. Mendel’s genetic law points out that the genetic traits of an organism are controlled by genetic factors. The process of hybridization can increase the diversity of gene combination. However, the cloned creature is a copy of an individual and results in a completely same gene which might lead to a potential risk that the extinction of the whole clone-generated population caused by a disease. In addition, clones are manufactured like objects in the laboratory, and this behaviour greatly violates their dignity and rights. Moreover, with the advancement of genetics and reproductive cloning it could be used to produce humans with superior traits, which may exacerbate inequality. Thus, as bioengineer, reproductive clone should not be researched, following the codes of conduct and moral codes.
Reproductive clone betrays the professional ethics and principle of engineer in the view of virtue ethics, because life and dignity of clones are damaged severely by this kind research. Besides according to utilitarianism, ethic behaviours should keep in line with the interests of most people and it approves or disapproves of an action based on the amount of pain or pleasure it bring. Therapeutic clone possibly can bring benefits to most people; however, reproductive clone is profitable for quite limited people who is rich and powerful. Also, reproductive cloning uses in-vitro generation of human embryo that is killing of a life to develop or save another life which is morally unacceptable. Thus, research extension into reproductive clone is unethical and against engineers’ professional responsibility.
The main problem is that there is still lots of speculation surrounding the technology. Regarding the use of reproductive cloning, the exact boundary capabilities and consequences have not been clearly defined. However, remarkable benefits from the prospects of novel cloning technique cannot be neglected. For this reason, it is our viewpoint that the use of reproductive cloning should be permitted, but with adequate regulation and laws. For its effective implementation there is an urgent need to make all the relevant stakeholders aware about the ethical implications of this technology.