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Friend or Foe?
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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The purpose of this paper is to shed light through a diverse collection of articles on the good and bad aspects of stem cell research and the cloning of humans. It will also discuss morals and tell why some people feel convicted by it. The act of cloning is something that is becoming more evident with every day. People are torn when deciding where the line should be drawn to differentiate between what is right and wrong in cloning. Since there are different forms of cloning one must have an idea of what they believe and have a personal definition of what is right and wrong.
The first type of cloning that will be examined is embryonic stem cell research. This type of cloning is for the most part an area that people agree on and feel that much good can be derived from it, but there are still those individuals who strongly oppose cloning tactics. In the article, "Stem Cell Research," the author named Moran says this, "If helpful cures for people who are suffering can come with stem cell research, than it makes it quite difficult for one to disagree with it"(Moran 2). So if stem cell research is considered morally acceptable to a great number, than what type of cloning seems to conflict with people on an even greater level? The answer to that question is human reproductive cloning. This particular kind of cloning morally conflicts with many because people feel that scientist are in a way playing God and disturbing creation. In the article, "Human Reproductive cloning" by Panayiotis Zavos, he states, "Human cloning is something that is near and experiments that are being conducted are bringing this closer with every day" (Zavos 1). There are still many problems that occur in animals that have been cloned. These problems must be corrected before actual cloning test are performed on human beings. "Some of the major problems that occur in animals after being cloned are defects in their respiratory systems and even being disproportioned" (Jaenisch). The crux of the problem is that the current, approved stem cell lines may be unsuitable for human trials because they were produced by the aid of mouse cells, which may contain viruses. Yet scientist receiving federal funds are limited to using only these. The Food and Drug Administration, out of concern regarding the viruses, has imposed stringent ground rules for any human trials using these old cell lines (Moran 1).
Stem cells were discovered in 1998, and the medical advances since then have been nothing less than extraordinary, and many scientists feel that extremist ideology should not slow this process (Harris 2). Stem cells have two important characteristics that distinguish them from other types of cells. First, they are unspecialized cells that renew themselves for long periods through cell division. The second is that under certain physiologic or experimental conditions, they can be induced to become cells with special functions, such as the beating cells of the heart muscle or the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Embryonic stem cells are derived from frozen embryos left over by couples who have been seeking a pregnancy. After a couple has succeeded in establishing a pregnancy, the leftover embryos are normally discarded. In Mirsky's piece on cloning entitled, "Doing What Comes Unnaturally," he says, "Those who are opposed to embryonic stem cell research believe that life begins at the moment of fertilization and thus see such research as akin to abortion" (Mirsky 1). Many scientists feel that people hold the right to have that view, but feel that it is a religious one and should not hinder the research from taking place and advancements from being made. A man named Jim Moran makes a compelling statement in his article "Embryonic Stem Cell Research". He states, "Pursuing medical advances through therapeutic cloning can help millions of those who suffer from diseases and injuries to one day have fuller memories, be able to walk, be pain free and not suffer from chronic heart disease. It is past time to put aside ideology and put first the interest of those individuals and their families who are suffering-many needlessly"( Moran 1). The idea that people must suffer because of certain individual's values and beliefs makes the entire idea of cloning something of a confusing matter. It can be easily said that these moral views violate the constitution, because they do not follow the guidelines of separation of church and state.
The cloning of Dolly the lamb from adult sheep cells was accomplished by a man named Ian Wilmut at Roslin Laboratories was a breakthrough in biomedical technology that startled the world. This could prove to be quite useful for therapeutic reasons because people who needed organ transplants could obtain new cloned organs with much more speed and success. The controversy occurs when people begin to discuss the cloning of the whole person. "It has been argued that the creation of human clones is inevitable." This new technology can dramatically influence the future of the human race by permitting unlimited human reproduction in an asexual manner, giving the rights for complete control over the genetic profile of the future human race. A man named Bob Harris raises some very important questions that would have to be answered after the cloning process took place. He asks, "Once the cloning process can begin in utero, how will one tell the clones apart from the originals? Dental records? Tattoos? Certificates of authenticity that are carried along with a drivers license"(Harris 2)? Harris also makes this profound statement: "If one accepts the Catholic notion that of new soul at conception, when exactly does a clone's soul form (1)? If without conception there is no new soul, does the clone timeshare with the original? What happens if the donor is saved by his faith and the replicated one is not? These are just a few issues that would have to be faced with the cloning of human beings.
If humans were to be cloned then how would personal experiences of the duplicate person created by the cloning differ from their original being from which the somatic cell was used? What would be the relationship between the cloned and the original? Should they be considered delayed identical twins, later-born twins or siblings, or parent and offspring, or something else (Cross 1)?
Stem cells are important for living organisms for many reasons. In the 3 to 5 day old embryo, called a blastocyst, a small group of about 30 cells called the inner cell mass gives rise to the hundreds of highly specialized cells needed to make up an adult organism. In the developing fetus, stem cells in developing tissues give rise to the multiple specialized cell types that make up the heart, lung, skin, and other tissues. In some adult tissues, such as bone marrow, muscle, and the brain, discrete populations of adult stem cells generate replacements for cells that are lost through normal wear and tear, injury, or disease. It has been hypothesized by scientists that stem cells may, at some point in the future, become the basis for treating diseases such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and heart disease (Gonella 372).
The article by Joseph S. Gonnella "Biotechnology and ethics in medical education of the new millennium", Helps to achieve a better understanding of what stem cells really are and what they can do. Adult stem cells, like all stem cells, share at least two characteristics. First they have the ability to make an identical copy for long periods of time. This ability is referred to as long-term self-renewal. Second, they can give rise to mature cell types that have characteristic shapes and specialized functions. Stem cells generate an intermediate cell type or type before they reach their fully differentiated state. The intermediate cell is called a precursor cell (Gonnella 371).
Dan W. Brock, the author of the article, "Human Cloning and our Sense of Self," discusses how cloning has the potential to weaken our sense of self. He discusses three ways cloning affects us as humans. "Cloning will undermine our sense genetic individuality or uniqueness, the value of human worth, and lastly a clones freedom or autonomy to construct his or her own life would be undermined by the presence of an earlier twin" (Brock 1). Our sense of self is a psychological one, "it consists of the properties or qualities that an individual considers important to who he is, to what kind of person he is, and to what properties of himself he identifies with." This includes properties like being a Christian or Atheist or the son of specific parents or even being a trustworthy person or a dishonest one. As individuals everyone will pick out different qualities that one considers having more or less importance to defining who they uniquely are. The purpose of cloning is to create an individual with the exact same genome as someone else. A major problem with this is that a persons' individuality would be lost and also that persons' feeling of individualism would be lost as well (Brock 2). "One important aspect of people's sense of self is their belief that they have this unique, irreplaceable value, and that their society recognizes and respects that value." Cloning will diminish the value on human life because we will start to view humans as replaceable and also as something that can just be manufactured rather than a product of sexual reproduction (Brock 2). A twin created by cloning would know, or at least believe they know too much about themselves. "For there is already in the world another person, who from the same genetic starting point made the life choices that are still in the later twin's future. It would seem that one's fate is already determined, and so the later twins would lose the spontaneity of authentically creating their own self" (Brock 3). There would be no sense of creating their own destiny.
The process of cloning has shown that it can cause some defects to the specimens that are being. The author of "Reasons to be Cloned," Walter House, feels that these problems are being corrected and that cloning is very beneficial. He discusses the types of cells called ES cells, which have the power to reform every tissue type in the body. House says, "Such research could fundamentally transform the study of human disease"(House 1). Although there seems to be both good and bad reasons for cloning the Senate still feels that there be strict legislation on cloning. A bill has been proposed that would ban cloning and in contrast one that would ban cloning for reproductive reasons but still allow research "The cloning debate has closely divided the senate with each bill gearing about an equal number of supporters and about ten undecided"(Legislation on Human Cloning1).
Through this collection of diverse articles the debate over cloning is one that is divided by peoples morals and views. The authors of these articles all hold strong opinions and possess information on cloning which helps them arrive at their beliefs. Cloning is in the near future and people must decide what side of the line they will stand on.
Brock, Dan W. "Human Cloning and Our Sense of Self." Science. (2002) Acedemic Search Elite. Oklahoma State University Library. 4 December 2002, Vol.296, Issue 5566 http://80search.epnet.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/
Cross, Peter. "Ethical Shades of Grey." Science. (1997) ProQuest Direct. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 09666494. 1 Jan. 2003, Volume 11
Gonnella, Joseph S. and Mohammadreza Hojat. "Biotechnology and ethics in medical education of the new millennium: Physician roles and responsibilities." Medical Teacher 23.4 (2001): 371-377.
Harris, Bob. "Second Thoughts about Cloning Humans." American Humanist Association. (1992) ProQuest Direct. Texas Christian University Library. Article 290801. 1 May/June. 1997 http://libnt2.lib.tcu.edu:2355/direct.asp.
House, Walter. "Reasons to be Cloned." Nature. 2001 Oklahoma State University Library. 6 December 2001. http://80search.epnet.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/direct.asp?an=6415383
Jaenisch, Rudolph and Ian Wilmet. "Don't Clone Humans." Science. (1997) ProQuest Direct. Texas Christian University Library. Article 00368075 1 Dec. 2003 http://libnt2.lib.tcu.edu:2661/citation.asp.
"Legislation on human cloning in Senate." Issues in Science and Technology ProQuestDirect. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 07485492. 19.1 (2002): http://80-proquest.umi.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/.
Mirsky, Steve. "Doing What Comes Unnaturally." Scientific America
ProQuest Direct. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 00368733. 1 May. 2003 Volume 288, Issue 5 http://80proquest.umi.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/.
Moran, Jim. "Embryonic Stem Cell Research." Science. (1997) Proquest Direct. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 00187399. 1 July/Aug. 2003 http://80-proquest.umi.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/.
Zavos, Panayiotis M. "Human reproductive cloning: the time is near." Modern Science. (1995) ProQuestDirect. Oklahoma State University Library. Article 14726491. 1 June. 2003, Volume 6, Issue 4 http://80proquest.umi.com.argo.library.okstate.edu/.
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