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Published:August 25th, 2015 12:25 EST
Human Cloning and the Quest for Dignity

Human Cloning and the Quest for Dignity

By Vincent Gonzalez

When attempting to decipher the nature of cloning for human reproductive purposes, it`s difficult to begin to fathom the amount of concerns that exist surrounding the practice. Though most of these perspectives are motivated by a variety of extenuating reasons, many deep underlying ethical implications still remain that still haven`t been effectively resolved, especially when looking through the prism of human dignity.

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Most existing research on human cloning for reproductive purposes focus more on the scientific nature of the practice itself, either by looking at its potential for human well being or its possible drawbacks. When attempting to measure the benefits and drawbacks of humans reproduced through cloning, it`s difficult to determine at what particular stage the benefits outweigh the risks. Realizing that the technology for cloning is still in the process of being perfected, the inevitability that this technology could be used for other purposes besides just replicating an organism comes with the territory that a technology like this offers. Though the merit of these other purposes may not be at that stage where serious  consideration is warranted, discussions on these concerns continue to play a factor in terms of cloning` long-term prospects.

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The lasting consequence`s of manipulating human reproduction through cloning has always proved itself to be a source for controversy. Regardless of the purposes for cloning for human reproduction, the nature of the practice has intelligible moral and ethical concerns that question the very rights that human dignity encompasses; out of all the concerns and purposes for cloning, the three that typically have the most substance involving the practice usually fall with the categories of family relationships, societal identity, and human freedom.         

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Supporters of cloning for human reproduction usually rely on scientific standings to justify the practice. Most of these merits revolve around how the activity of cloning can benefit certain members of society that wouldn`t otherwise have any other options for procreation. These can include couples who are infertile, same-sex couples, and even possibly single individuals if permitted. Regardless of the reasons, once these families are established an unavoidable shift in family relationships is likely to occur. Depending on the situation, intact family relationships where clones are involved might prove to be difficult.

When considering the applicability of society willingness to embrace clones as a method for procreation, it`s difficult to gauge the unforeseen consequences in terms of how society might view these people, especially when considering that society might perceive the technology of cloning as just another way to manufacture people; the fear is that this can potentially lead towards altering attitudes that parents have for their children, ultimately harming society. Human freedom also provides another source for ethical concern, particularly when considering that human freedom also includes reproductive freedom. Proponents of cloning claim that every individual possess human freedom and that rules imposed to govern reproduction are an intrusion on human privacy and the rights of a person to bear a child in whatever capacity they deem necessary. Opponents on the other hand, argue that human rights, just like practically all rights cannot be ethically exercised at the expense of the rights of another. Regardless of the purposes and justifications for cloning for human reproduction, the seemingly endless subtle ways cloning and its inescapable consequences can prove to produce are enough to provide a plethora of intelligible moral and ethical concerns, especially when it comes to human dignity.

One thing to emphasis though is the variety of versions in terms of the interpretations that exist when it comes to what human dignity actually covers. Most of the available interpretations on human dignity typically consist of the same basic substance at its core, which is an innate belief that every person possess worth. The capacity for society to grow to embrace this belief is ongoing.

 One key ethical fear that surfaces more often than not concerning cloning for reproduction purposes is the shift in family relationships, especially when it comes to children reproduced through cloning. There are many that would argue that the children reproduced through cloning should be treated as simply any other child, regardless of the child`s origin. Then there are those who would argue that children reproduced through cloning will be unjustifiably burden as they would spend their lives with the knowledge of knowing that they are not an original, that there simply just another copy of someone else`s genetic makeup.

Realizing that genetic makeup in and of itself doesn`t determine our identities, it`s difficult not to account for it in children reproduced through cloning as our genetic uniqueness is an important source of our individuality, especially when it comes to how one views themselves. Genetic uniqueness to most people is a source for their independence and individuality. The knowledge of knowing that you`re an original, that nobody has previously possessed your natural characteristics aids in how you move forward in your life; as a genetically unique individual with an indeterminate future. Humans reproduced through cloning by contrast, live a life overshadowed by the life of the person for whom they were replicated after. Other concerns involving family relationships are the place of the child reproduced through cloning, particularly when it comes to the arrangements of family relationships.

Due to the special nature of children reproduced through cloning, unforeseen difficulties in establishing relations with other members of a family besides the original progenitor may be confusing. While there are definitely situations where children are raised in families without having a natural biologically connection to their parents, (like children who are adopted or children who are reproduced through the aid of IVF) these families always attempt to follow the natural model for a family. The difficulty with cloning in terms of family arrangements is that the typical model for a natural family runs contrary in terms of how a family with a child reproduced through cloning should operate and interact with one another. The dynamics of the family may shift as the child reproduced through cloning would share a special tie to only one parent. When examining the exact effects that children reproduced through cloning would have on families, most existing data is largely speculative. When it comes to a families` acceptance of a child reproduce through cloning, the majority of reports available recognize that the risks involved are high, especially when it comes to family issues like sibling rivalry, jealously or even parental tension.  

Much like genetic identity, social identity makes up a large part of an individual. If you just look at the way societies around the world are structured, our environment plays a key role in terms of whom we ultimately end up becoming. The potential hazards associated with clones when it comes to society is that if a society allows for such activities to occur, then society might view clones, or even children reproduced through cloning differently. This distorted view could possible lead us down a dangerous path where society might be genetically divided, providing a unique bases from which societal complications may originate. Though some may contend that we have already been traveling down a dangerous path, cloning could possibly lead us much further down this path where potential hazards may no longer be capable of being mitigated. Another argument is that abuses might occur to humans reproduce through cloning, especially when clones can be potentially used by authoritarian regimes or other corrupt persons.  

Another key ethical concern that involves cloning for reproductive purposes is human freedom. Opponents argue that there are at least some circumstances where reproductive freedom should be limited to protect the child, similar to cases that involve incest. Opponents of cloning for human reproduction argue that when it comes to the right to reproduce, consideration for the child that comes into being as a result of the practice needs to be acknowledged and the best interest of the child need to be considered. They contend that procreation in and of itself is a limitation of basic rights, as it ultimately produces another human into existence towards whom we have responsibilities for. On the other side of the spectrum, proponents contend that human freedom is open-ended by its very nature. It`s no secret that humans are constantly reinventing themselves, their appearances, their values, and their behavior towards others. New technology has always played a pivotal role in maintaining the unpredictability idea of human life, and any attempt to prohibit such new technologies can be possibly viewed as just another way of tradition taking precedent over change.

Even with the possibility of serious genetic or development disorders, from a personal perspective, I can`t help but to put myself in the position of a clone in the sense that even if I knew the origins of my birth, I would still prefer existence as a clone to no existence at all. Self-preservation can be a powerful motivator. It`s hard for both proponents and opponents of cloning to argue with this particular aspect primarily because of all the interpretations that people have on the state of existing. Examining it at its most basic components, as long as one maintains an awareness of being conscious, who`s to deny them of their existence? Many proponents argue that regardless of the source for ones` origin, the same rights should be shared by all members of society. According to one expert, Regardless of the law, it is only a matter of time before such human cloning occurs. Such a person, although cloned, has the same ethical status as any other person, and would be due all the rights and dignity of any person in our society, legally and ethically. (Cameron, 2005) Opponents are quick to mention that even though most societies are committed to freedom, it doesn`t imply that all innovated practices should be allowed, no matter how bizarre.

 Until there isn`t a lack of understanding regarding the ethical implications involving cloning for human reproductive purposes, the practice should be met with caution. It`s hard not to want to set limits on efforts to remake methods of human procreation, especially with the absence of more concrete data. At the end of the day though, most fears concerning cloning originate from the technology itself. It`s no surprise to know that there are risks involved when reproducing through cloning. Although there may be exceptional cases where cloning for reproductive purposes may be morally defensible, it`s hard to mitigate possible risks. Recognizing that all basic freedoms are important, it`s hard not to respect the worth that procreative freedom grants. To most people, creating a person can have a variety of special meanings. Whether motivated religiously, politically or even scientifically, cloning offers yet another way for people to reproduce. Although not everyone in a situation that might have cloning as their only option for procreation would want to use the method, some might.         

Resources:

Cameron, C. , & Williamson, R. (2005). In the world of dolly, when does a human embryo acquire respect?.  Journal of Medical Ethics, 31(4), 215-220.

Foley, E. (2002). Human cloning and the right to reproduce.Albany Law Review, 65(3), 625-648.

Gurnham, D. (2005). The mysteries of human dignity and the brave new world of human cloning. Social & Legal Studies,14(2), 197-214.

Kolata, Gina.  (2001) In Cloning, Failure Far Exceeds Success. The New York Times. .

Levick, S. (2004). Clone Being : Exploring the Psychological and Social Dimensions. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield.

PETERSEN, A. (2002). Replicating our bodies, losing our selves: News media portrayals of human cloning in the wake of dolly. Body & Society, 8(4), 71-90.

Strong, C. (2005). The ethics of human reproductive cloning. .Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 10, 45-49.

Tribe, L. (1998) On Not Banning Cloning for the Wrong Reasons` in Nussbaum, M., and C. R. Sunstein. Clones and Clones: Facts and Fantasies about Human Cloning.

 

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