Human Cloning

Human cloning has become a topic of interest and concern over the past decade, but has been a point of curiosity for even longer than that. Human cloning has many down falls as I see it. However, there is some positivity towards human cloning. I want to discuss and explain the ways that human cloning is deemed possible.

True human cloning involves taking a somatic cell from a person and removing its nucleus. Then the nucleus of a fertilized egg cell is removed and placed in the somatic cell. This process is impossible in humans right now because the somatic cells are specialized and there are many genes that have been switched off in them that we do not know how to turn back on. Even though this is impossible in humans, it has been done with frogs. The eggs were implanted with the nuclei from the intestinal lining of tadpoles. Most of these frogs died or grew into monsters. Of the ones that did grow normally, they were sterile. It seems to me that if a scientist cannot perform such an experiment on a small specimen like a frog, then it would not even be thought of for a human.

Embryo splitting or blastomere separation is what is most commonly referred to as human cloning. Embryos in the early stages of development start to divide into cells called blastomeres. The zona pellucida (a protective covering for the egg) is punctured or removed and the blastomeres are separated from each other. Each blastomere is then covered with an artificial zona pellucida. Then each of the blastomeres starts dividing and becomes an embryo. Two scientists and experimentalists, Hall and Stillman, attempted this in 1993. They used embryos that contained too much genetic information and got as far as 32-cell divisions in some of the embryos. At this stage the embryo can be implanted into the womb. However, their findings were inconclusive and they were unable to complete the experiment.

Another technique is nuclear transplantation. In this process, unspecialized embryonic cells are used and their nuclei are removed. An embryo in the 32-cell division stage has its blastomeres separated and then the blastomere is fused with an egg cell by using an electric current or another method. This technique is also very sensitive and delicate because the scientist must be extremely careful working with the embryonic cells.

A possibility for human cloning that has been proposed is that the embryos that were cloned and not implanted would be frozen for use in a catalog. The child that was born from a cloned embryo would have a picture taken of him/her and placed in a catalog along with a description of the child. Then prospective parents could choose the child that they want, order its embryo, and implant it into the woman’s womb. Then after nine months the couple would have their dream child. I think that this idea is completely ludicrous. Not only will it take away from adoption for all of the children that still need parents, but it is inhumane. When I think of looking through a catalog, I think of buying clothes, not buying the perfect child.

Something else that has been proposed is the arising of a black market for embryos. In this situation, infertile couples could buy a cloned embryo that was stolen or was to be discarded, in order to have a child. Embryo splitting could also be used to rid the world of genetic diseases. One could clone their embryo and test one of the clones for a genetic disease. If the embryo test’s positive then all of the clones would be destroyed. If the embryo test’s negative for diseases then one of the clones could be implanted to produce a healthy child. All of these types of cloning are different forms of playing God. Children are born with their own unique characteristics, even if they cannot always be completely healthy, that is who they are.

Ethically, there are many questions that must be answered before cloning becomes a reality. Many of these questions are difficult to answer as all of the facts are still unknown because cloning itself is still in its early stages as a science. Cloning, as I see it, will be racing against NASA in their quest for greater things. However, I cannot imagine how anything good can come out of such a thing as cloning.

A question among many of us is, ‘Is cloning taking it out of Gods hands?’ A lot of that depends on perspective religions. Many believe that it is tampering with the work of God, but others believe that it is a miracle of science that will help infertile couples live the dream of having their own children. However, as of right now, there are many other options for infertile couples.

Another question that might be frequently asked is, ‘Would you be willing to have a cloned child?’ Even if you or your spouse were infertile, there are still options other than cloning. Why not adopt or have a surrogate mother? With cloned children, it means that there will be other children exactly like the one you have, scattered throughout the world. With adoption, the child you have is still unique. I would rather have a unique child with all of his faults and quirks, then a child who is genetically prescribed as being perfect. What exactly is perfection? I think cloning is another attempt to achieve complete perfection in a world that needs and loves an individual’s differences.

The biological and ethical issues aside, now look at each side of the argument. As said before, I really see no bright spots with human cloning. My side of the stand is NO to human cloning. I think it can only do damage to the world and individuals altogether. After doing the research for this paper, I thought I might change my perspective. However, reading about the different experiments that have been performed, I still agree with my initial perspective, human cloning has and will never be a good thing for the world.

Many things could go wrong in the beginning works of cloning. The science is extremely sensitive. Working with cells is like walking through fire. The success rate is so slim, if any, because as far as the world knows, it has never been attempted. There are many groups out there, more specifically cults, that claim to have accomplished cloning a human being but thus far, there is no proof.

As of right now, as I’m sure many people feel, cloning should not be done. I do not see anything positive that can come of it. Many people may say, ‘Well I want to have a child that is free of illnesses and birth defects’. However, fertility experts can tell you now that couples can choose to abort babies if they find out he/she will be born with a disease such as Down’s Syndrome. I do not agree with this either, but for the sake of the argument, parents already have their say on their unborn child’s health. Cloning is putting such a special act as conceiving a child, into the hands of scientists. I do not think this is how it was meant to be done ever.

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