The supporters of therapeutic cloning and stem cell research call for the end of genetically linked diseases such as diabetes and cystic fibrosis. Human DNA has been atomized into clonable portions. The possibility of designer babies is cherished by affluent parents. All these are the realities of our time, the results of stem cell research whose impact may be unpredictable. On the one hand, human cloning may open new horizons for stem cell research; on the other hand, all this fuss about genetic cloning may be of no value.
Stem cell research and genetic cloning remain a controversial issue that has both advocates and opponents, More than a decade ago the Roslin Institute scientists pioneered reproductive human cloning, creating the cloning of Dolly the sheep. At the turn of the 21st century the idea of cloned embryos for reproduction was rejected. Several years later, the use of spare embryos for stem cell research put the idea of cloned embryos on the agenda again. I will base on “A submission to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cell Research” by David Jones (2000) to inform you about cloning for birth and transplantation, as well as human rights of human embryos among other issues related to stem cell research and genetic cloning.
I will begin with genetic cloning. The clone organism is an early human life. In cloning, the nucleus of an unfertilized ovum is replaced by the nucleus of a body cell from an existing human being in order to create a human embryo. The created embryo is the clone of the human being from whom the nucleus was taken. But genetic errors in the clone can cause unpredictable consequences. It is believed that cells from a cloned embryo are difficult to control.
Now, I will dwell on the humane aspects of stem cell research and genetic cloning. David Jones claimed that the human embryo has its own rights, so it cannot be deliberately killed or harmed. Jones expressed the view that it is inhuman to let the human embryo die in the process of harvesting its cells. He added that to conceive embryos for research is disrespectful. In Jones’s view, cloning dehumanizes the process of production, as the clone has no genetic parents. Jones objected to both cloning for birth and research. He argued against any experimentation with human material. He stated that genetic cloning dehumanizes the sanctity of the unique value of each human life.
Different views are expressed in regard to stem cell research and genetic cloning. No positive answer has been found. This controversial issue has support of those who believe that stem cell research or cloning could help cure certain diseases. But it has no support of those who respect human life in any of its forms.