The creation of a genetically identical human copy is called human cloning. Human clones such as identical twins are common in the world today, where the cloning happens during the natural process of reproduction. Cloning is one of the most controversial issues in the world today, especially therapeutic cloning which involves using human cells in medicine and in research. The second method of cloning involves replacing a damaged part of the body, or one that has failed altogether.
By cloning, doctors are able to develop new procedures to help treat diseases of the heart and the kidney. Research in medicine and science has been very useful in averting would have been fatalities as a result of cardiovascular diseases and other conditions like disability. For instance, the research can help in creating a new and healthy heart tissue and other organ tissues to alleviate human suffering.
Despite the possible importance of human cloning, it continues to draw intense international debate with regard to human dignity. The basis of this debate lies on the idea that human cloning infringes on human rights and dignity (Malby 103-105).
US researchers, together with their counterparts from South Korea, successfully cloned a human embryo by extracting embryonic cells and using them to make babies for use in developing cures for such conditions as diabetes, heart attach and kidney diseases. Researchers and scientists have been able to clone sheep and other animal species, but have always encountered problems in cloning human beings. The cloned sheep, called the dolly, offered great opportunities for research in science. It was found that stem cells are present in an embryo few days after its conception.
The researchers at the Advanced Cell Technology used the method of nuclear transfer, which has been successful over the years in cloning sheep and other animal species. The experiment involves the researchers using a needle to break the wall of a mature egg to remove its genetic material; a cumulus cell is then inserted into the ruptured egg. The cumulus cell, a remnant from the ovary, is used to provide genetic material for the developing egg and the stem cells. Afterwards, the researchers add chemicals and other growth factors to fool the egg into dividing as if it had been fertilized by the sperm cell. Cell division results in a blastocyst which is a hollow ball of about 100 cells containing stem cells.
The researchers created the clone using cumulus eggs donated to them by Korean women. Men’s cells, especially the ones of the ear lobes were used but they did not yield any fruitful results. At present, the cloning process can only be used on women, according to the researchers.
Despite the progress made so far in this field of scientific research on human cloning, several arguments have been put forward for justification of the ban on reproductive cloning. Opponents argue that reproductive cloning poses a threat on the social definition of the family. The family would not be significant at all since the reproductive cloning substitutes the family role. It is possible that in the near future, the family will be rendered biologically useless (Almeder and Humber 117).
Other very important issues being raised by the opponents of human cloning are health and safety issues. These concerns arise from the dolly’s death from an incurable lung disorder which can be traced to the cloning process. Therefore, human cloning can also bring about incurable disorders to human beings.
Debate still rages on whether or not human cloning should be banned, with most US scientists calling for the banning of reproductive cloning in humans. According to these scientists, cloned humans are more susceptible to life-threatening diseases such as kidney failure and heart attack among other ailments.
Human cloning can be carried out for different purposes. A person’s bone marrow can be cloned in order to be used in a transplant operation to treat certain diseases the person in question is suffering from. In other instances, scientists can clone organs such as the heart. In this case, cloning is obviously beneficial although most people would think that human cloning and animal cloning are both problematic. One objection that arises is that, if scientists are able to use the organ transplants, then they would be using organs belonging to someone else. But it is a fact that there is no person to whom the organs belong since no one is destroyed if the organism in question is killed.
The better way to look into human cloning is to consider human suffering and decide whether it is good or bad. In a case where a normal human being suffers brain damage and there are possibilities of gaining stable mental state, then organ transplant is necessary. It would therefore be wrong to terminate the life of the person. The society is therefore faced with a hard choice to make: to accept human cloning and save lives, or reject it and die from curable conditions such as disability, heart diseases, and kidney complications among many others.
Almeder, Robert and James Humber. Human Cloning. Totowa, NJ: Humana press Inc: 1998, pp 117- 120
Malby, Steven. Human Dignity and Human Reproductive Cloning. Health and Human rights. 2002, 6:103-105