Human Cloning - Redefining Life

Debi Vinnedge
Reproduced with Permission
Human Cloning

When Dolly the sheep was created as the first successfully cloned animal in 1997, a door was opened into an area of technology that should have been locked tighter than Pandora's box. Instead, scientists began salivating at their newly found power to control and create life at will. The prospects seemed endless: copying the genius mind of an Einstein, the athletic talent of Michael Jordan or the musical gift of Bach. By manipulating the genetic structure of human embryos, they could weed out undesired traits, create the blonde haired-blue eyed ideal race that Hitler once dreamed of, or even use the technology to rewind one's biological clock indefinitely.

But in the years that followed, researchers have recoiled in horror to discover that cloning is not only a very bad idea morally and ethically, but the newly formed creatures are fraught with serious genetic and developmental problems. Even more troubling is that these abnormalities may show themselves immediately and prove fatal, or they could be hidden subtle problems that surface as the clone develops. Cow clones for example, while seeming normal in outward appearance have been born with enlarged hearts or lungs that will not develop properly; mice were slow to reach normal milestones of growth and development, while others were grossly obese. In other experiments, animals were born with gross deformities, lack of immunity and without their full compliment of internal organs. Commenting on these failures, Dr. Brigid Hogman, professor of cell biology at Vanderbilt Medical Center stated, "It (human cloning) would be morally indefensible. It would be reckless and irresponsible. What do you do with humans who are born with half a kidney or no immune system?" And lest we forget the failure rate, over 95% of cloned animals do not make it to full term. In fact, there were 276 failed attempts before Dolly was successfully created.

The majority of reputable scientists strongly agree that human cloning should certainly be out of the question - that is when cloning is used to create a completely new human life form. But what about other areas of cloning that are not making the headlines, but nevertheless are being aggressively pursued with great zeal, such as "therapeutic cloning"? One can barely pick up a newspaper these days without reading about Embryonic Stem Cell (ESC) research and the promises that such work will one day provide cures for major diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Diabetes and spinal cord injuries. And scientists quietly admit that cloning will be a major part of that research.

Therapeutic cloning differs from full reproductive cloning in that the goal is to produce an unlimited supply of stem cells using one's own DNA to prevent immune rejections by the body. In this type of cloning, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) the nucleus is removed from an egg, (donated by any female) and the subject's own DNA is then fused with the egg to "fertilize" or jump start it into life. But instead of implanting this newly formed life into a uterus, scientists allow the embryo cells to grow and divide until the exact stage of development before removing the stem cells, which in turn, destroys the embryo. Simply put, what scientists are doing is creating life - a new embryo - only to destroy it in order to obtain the stem cells. And it is not going to prevent immune rejection either since there is mitochondrial DNA inherent in the donor egg. But make no mistake about it - this is a living, human being created from one's own flesh and blood, which is subsequently destroyed for his or her future body parts. And you thought only animals consumed their young!

Another form of therapeutic cloning involves applying a pure eugenics mode of thinking to the creation and destruction of human life. This type of research involves screening embryos in their early stages of development to determine if there are any "defects" or even a remote possibility of some undesired trait in the newly forming child. Using genetic manipulation and IVF embryos, one can simply pick and choose the qualities they would like to have or eliminate in their baby. And if the first attempt fails, cloning will allow the production of as many embryos as necessary in order to achieve the intended result, with each embryo along the way being destroyed to sacrifice its stem cells. If this "perfected baby" shows any signs of malformation after being implanted into the mother's womb, it is simply aborted.

Scientists and researchers believe this type of cloning is not only perfectly acceptable, they believe it is necessary for medical advancement. They reject adult stem cell research purely out of a selfish desire to move into the area of cloning where they will have an endless supply of embryos and their stem cells at their personal disposal. These "left-over" embryos in IVF clinics that scientists hope to use in such research will be cloned over and over again in the future and parents who donated them will have absolutely no say as to what may happen to their child. Imagine the surprise of an IVF produced child to walk down the street one day in the future and meet his or her twin. As bizarre as that may seem, it is a real possibility.

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in all of this is that human lives are being sacrificed for the sake of man's own selfishness and greed. Clearly there is no need for ESC research, as new developments are amazing the science world on nearly a weekly basis using adult stem cells instead of embryonic stem cells. Clearly over 90% of Americans polled believe that human cloning should be banned. And clearly, therapies which are created in this manner are certain to be rejected by a large majority of people, who find it both morally and ethically wrong. Scientists should be focusing instead on those areas of research that will help all mankind, not just those whose moral principles are not bothered by destroying one life to benefit another.

When we examine the obvious we cannot help but ask ourselves why anyone would dare to presume the role of God by controlling the creation and destruction of human life? The answer lies in the moral conscience of man for certainly, these are well-educated scientists who are fully aware that life begins at the moment of fertilization. And as such, these tiny human lives deserve to be fully protected from exploitation by others. It is a fundamental right of all human beings, regardless of their age or stage of life. To justify their own blind ambition, they instead pretend to question whether embryos are really persons, seeking an answer to a question that has plagued the minds of those ignoring the truth since the inception of Roe v. Wade. But when parents and lawmakers allow the rights of our unborn to be ignored, can we really expect researchers and scientists to do otherwise? When we accept the production of medical treatments or vaccinations derived from aborted fetal tissue, (Vaccine Info) we are sounding the welcoming golden dinner bell for such abuses to not only continue, but to increase with the advent of new biotechnology. We need to learn from the mistakes of our past and correct them now! After all, what better example do we have than the damage caused by the sins of pride, greed and disobedience committed in the Garden of Eden? Some things, no matter how tempting, should never be touched.