The Ongoing Debate on Stem Cell Research and Human Cloning..

The recent publicity around the Senate bill supporting stem cell research has once again fanned the flame on the smoldering debate of human cloning. The arguments for and against human cloning are numerous. Heated moral and ethical debates are burning across the nation. This newly announced support of embryonic stem cell research has once again forced opponents and proponents to draw their “lines in the sand.” As with any new medical technology there are medical concerns around the risks and safety of human cloning. It is also feared that cloning will take away our God given uniqueness and may result in negative consequences. “The production of human clones goes against Nature in that the latter requires that the genetic structure of all human offspring be a composite of genes from two donors. In that way, Nature assures diversity and helps overcome some of the inherent weaknesses in either donor. Thus it follows that widespread cloning would lead to a gradual diminution of genetic quality.” (Paris, 47). The question is also being raised as to whether or not a cloned human being will suffer emotionally or psychologically due to the fact that they may not feel the kinship of real family. “Cloning undermines the structure of the familyâÂ?¦ reproduction and progeny are not connected. Furthermore, cloned individuals may have difficulty determining who their parents are.” (Evans, 30-31). Finally, religious opponents express concerns that by creating human clones we are “playing God,” and by attempting to do so may create humans that lack a soul. “Cloning risks being the tragic parody of God’s omnipotence. Man, to whom God has entrusted the created world, giving him freedom and intelligence, finds no limits to his action dictated solely by practical impossibility: he himself must learn how to set these limits by discerning good and evil.” (Pont. Acad. of Life)

The concerns surrounding this new medical technology are definitely founded. It is true that a great deal of testing and research is still needed before cloning technology should be practiced as a means of reproduction. Individuality and uniqueness are the traits that we as individuals pride ourselves on most. Losing these unique characteristics would definitely be unacceptable. Even though a person and his clone may share the same DNA they will not necessarily share the same environment or life experiences. Identical twins are a good example of this phenomenon. They share the same DNA but often have very different personalities. The Spiritual aspects of human cloning merit serious consideration. However, the truth is, scientists alone cannot create a human clone without God breathing life into its being. “Unlike Prometheus, no modern scientist has stolen anything out of heaven. Rather, the capacity for knowledge has been given to humanity by the omniscient and omnipotent creator of us all, the one whose authority and being are not usurped even by the capacity of the creature to clone itself.” (Paris, 48).

The preceding arguments are centered in fear, the fear of the unknown. The fear of what “evil” might be created. The fear that God may have given us more power and intelligence than we could have ever imagined. The human cloning technology that fills many with fear is the same technology that offers hope to those who had no hope. Almost any technology can be utilized for good or evil. Cloning from somatic cells (stem cells) and other reproductive technologies are no exception. Laws put in place to encourage appropriate use will not stop those who choose to act inappropriately. Progress of any type involves some degree of risk. The question we should ask ourselves is should hope or fear rule us? Human cloning technology can be used with responsibility to accomplish great strides towards improving the quality of life for many human beings.

In November, 1999 football great Walter Payton died of a rare liver disease. No amount of money could save him. Had the stem cell cloning technology been further developed there is a chance that a liver could have been cloned that would have allowed Walter to live past the age of forty-five. Michael J. Fox has Parkinson’s Disease. His fame and wealth cannot cure him. Stem cell cloning could. In a senate subcommittee hearing Fox, who referred to himself as “one of a million involuntary experts” on the disease, told lawmakers that “stem cell research offers the chance of a miracle.” (O’Conner).

Mary Tyler Moore has suffered from diabetes for more than 30 years. Her celebrity status has not provided her a cure. Moore also spoke to the senate in her support of stem cell research and cited research in Canada in which healthy pancreatic cells were transplanted into young diabetics, many of whom no longer require insulin injections. “There is evidence that a cure is within our grasp,” explained Moore. She told the committee that one U.S. diabetic dies of the disease every three minutes. (O’Conner). Former President Reagan, leader of our great Nation, was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease after leaving office. There was no cure, his condition only worsened with no improvement before his death. About 4 million Americans had Alzheimer’s in 2000.

Authorities estimate that the population of Alzheimer’s victims will increase to 14 million by the year 2050. (North) The medical technology that is provided by human cloning research has the potential to cure this debilitating disease if human cloning research is not banned. Cystic fibrosis (CF) affects approximately 30,000 Americans and is the nation’s most common life-threatening genetic disease. CF seriously impairs the functions of the respiratory and digestive tracts. There is no cure and the disease is fatal. It is believed that effective genetic therapy against CF can be found if research in the area of human cloning is allowed to go forward.

The number of people that could be treated, cured or even allowed to cheat death with the technological advances achieved through cloning research is colossal. This research will no doubt produce valuable spin off technologies related to reproduction and development. Prohibiting it would violate the fundamental freedom of scientific inquiring. If your child is diagnosed with leukemia, cancer, cystic fibrosis or diabetes or if a parent has heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease would you want to ban their only hope for life, or would that be “one good reason” to continue the research in human cloning technology?

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