Based on what you have read, should we legalize the production of human clones?
What arguments most influenced your decision?
How would you explain your position to someone who disagrees with you?
Reading 1: POLICY AND PEOPLE
Medical research using human cloning techniques should be permitted for therapeutic purposes, the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) has declared in a controversial statement released last week.
The Academy says, the recent cloning advances could revolutionise treatment of damaged tissues and organs. "Human cells, whether derived from cloning techniques, from embryonic stem-cell lines, or from primordial germ cells should not be precluded from use in approved research activities in cellular and developmental biology", says the AAS statement (http://www.science.org.au/policy/statemen/cloning.htm).
Sue Serjeantson from the AAS Steering Group on Human Cloning, said the Academy, like other similar organisations internationally was firmly opposed to reproductive cloning to create fetuses. "We want to encourage public discussion on this. It is going to take quite a long time, as it is a complex issue and there will be different and legitimate points of view being aired."
Recent developments make self-compatible tissue and organ repair more likely, the AAS notes. These developments include: cloning of mammals from adult cells; the establishment of embryonic stem-cell cultures; and the ability of human fetal nerve stem-cells to develop into multiple and appropriate nerve-cell types following transplantation into animals. Julian Savulescu (Ethics Unit, The Murdoch Institute for Genetics Research, Melbourne), supports the AAS position: "Some people think that human zygotes are special because they have the potential to create people. Cloning has shattered that belief. There is no morally significant difference between a fertilised egg in a petri dish in an IVF [in-vitro fertilisation] clinic, a cloned cell, and a skin cell: they could all be persons, with the application of modern technology".
However, the Catholic church and some ethicists have condemned the AAS's position. The federal Government supports the more cautious line taken by the Australian Health Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, which advocates regulation to allow cloning on embryos in "exceptional circumstances".
New methods can create a baby who is your genetic twin
The cloning of human beings is now possible. Scientists can take an egg cell, remove its DNA, insert DNA from a cell of any person, and create an embryo who is that person's younger but identical twin. This technology offers a miracle option for families who cannot have children of their own by any other method. After 25 years as a fertility specialist, trying to help couples have babies, I have joined with scientists in Europe and elsewhere to develop that option. By doing so, I believe, we will be helping humanity.
It is true that the cloning of animals-such as Dolly the sheep, created in Scotland in 1997-has so far had a high failure rate and is fraught with risks. But those risks have been exaggerated, and many of them have resulted from improper cloning. Meanwhile, I can show you e-mails from thousands of families eager to accept those risks. They say in their messages that if they are able to have a child through cloning, they will love that son or daughter just as much as they would any other.
Believe it or not, the genie is out of the bottle. Human cloning will be done whether we like it or not. I think we should accept it, make it legal, regulate it, and make sure it is done in a responsible, scientifically correct way -not left to unscrupulous black-market exploiters.
-PANOS ZAVOS, PH.D.
Institute of America
Don't think about human cloning from the point of view of the person being cloned. Think about it as if you were the younger, duplicated copy. If you do, you'll see at once why cloning a human being is deeply unethical.
First, the known grave risks of abnormality and deformity seen in animal cloning make attempts at human cloning an immoral experiment on the resulting child-to-be. Second, even if you were a healthy clone, would you want to be constantly compared with the adult original in whose image you have been made? Wouldn't you want to have your own unique identity and an open-ended future, fully a surprise to yourself and the world?
If you were the clone of your "mother," would it help your adolescence to turn into the spitting image of the woman Daddy fell in love with? If you were the clone of your "father" but your parents later divorced, would you like to look just like the man your mother now detests?
Third, don't you think it is a form of child abuse for parents to try to determine in advance just exactly what kind of a child you are supposed to be? Do you want to live under the tyranny of their biologically determined expectations?
Finally, would you like to turn human procreation into manufacture, producing children as artifacts? Cloning is tyrannical and dehumanizing. We should have none of it.
Use for reference page:
Panos Zavos, & Leon R Kass. (2001, April). Should humans be cloned? New York Times Upfront, 133(17), 26
Tattam, A. (1999). Australia considers human cloning for therapeutic purposes. Lancet, 353(9158), 1076.