Twenty years from now, as you are walking around the square in Wilkes Barre, you pass someone who looks exactly like you. They have your same brown eyes, round face, light brown hair, short stature, and even the same dimples you possess. Can you imagine the shock and even fright that may accompany such a sighting? The world was bewildered when the news that an adult mammal was produced without any eggs being fertilized with sperm. The results of Dolly surprised society and the idea that human cloning was possible created an uproar. Many people disagree with cloning for ethical reasons. Opponents want human cloning banned, saying it would only create problems. On the other hand, scientists say it could have other benefits such as duplicating embryos for in vitro and replacing a dying child (Masci 1). Others argue that human cloning would open doors for treatments of serious diseases.
Cloning human beings could be beneficial, says Ruth Macklin, a professor of bioethics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City (Masci 2). One way in which cloning could be beneficial in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. Cloning Research may improve IVF, in which an egg is removed from a womans uterus, fertilized by a donated sperm, and then implanted into the uterus. Cloning could improve the effectiveness of IVF. Robert Stillman, one of the investigators in a recent cloning experiment, stated, If a woman has only a single egg to be fertilized, the chances of a successful pregnancy are only about ten percent. He continues, If more then four embryos are implanted, the success rates rise dramatically (Stillman 1993). Cloning embryos could split one embryo into four and then increase the pregnancy rate for many women across the world. Splitting the embryos would avoid the procedure having to be done numerous times. It would reduce the physical risks as well as financial costs.
Cloning may also offer new options for couples who are unable to produce children the normal egg-sperm way. If the couple doesnt want to use a surrogate mother or father, cloning gives the option of still having a child. However, the child would be an exact replica of one of the parents. Cloning could bring hope into many couples lives. Another possible use might involve cloning a son or daughter. This use of cloning could help couples too old to produce their own children. It can also help couples who have lost a child to a murder or kidnapping. Producing a child who is identical to their past might relieve some of the pain.
In addition to aiding in reproduction, cloning might help find treatments for certain diseases. Studying how the cells work could lead scientists in the right direction. Some cells in the human body can only perform a certain function. If there were a need for that type of cell, scientists would be able to clone it so it will then perform its function that may be needed in the body. Learning how cells perform different functions can lead to discovering effective treatments for diseases such as cancer. Learning how cells work can also provide scientists with the knowledge of how tissues form. Cloning could form these tissues which would aid in transplants. Cloning tissues, organs, and even bone marrow could increase the success rate in surgery.
All of these examples could be beneficial; however, many scientists still think cloning will cause problems. Wilmut, the scientist who cloned Dolly the sheep, feels that social and ethical arguments still outweigh the scientific benefits (Masci 3). Many researchers believe that there are other ways then cloning to find treatments for diseases and to provide strength in transplants. I cant at the moment honestly see anything in this (cloning) that is going to tell us something about humans that we cant find out in experimentally more acceptable animals like mice and sheep, says Collin Stewart, Director of the Laboratory for Cancer Developmental Biology at the governments Advanced Biosciences Laboratories in Fredrick, Maryland.
Many of the arguments by people who disagree with cloning point to the lack of data about its effects. Whether it is the lack of humanness, loss of individual identity or uniqueness, or religious