Gallery H
Rebuilding Ourselves
Page 2
Page 3

The Conflict Over Human Cloning


By James Donahue


Ever since scientists at Scotland’s Roslin Institute successfully cloned a Dolly, the sheep in 1996, the world religious community has been in a panic over the probability of someone taking the next step and producing a human clone.


Indeed, scientists have been busy cloning cows, goats, pigs, rats, mice, rabbits, cats, dogs, horses and mules but there has been no known record of a human clone. If it happened it would probably be kept very secret because in most parts of the world, the cloning of a human is not only illegal, it is considered by many to be immoral.


Among the biggest opponents of such a practice are the Roman Catholic Church and Islamic Clerics. This is somewhat understandable if you think of merely cloning in the reproductive sense. This involves the use of the cells of a person to reproduce an exact duplicate of that individual. When this happens in nature it is called twins. But the cloned twin has a much spookier potential. The clone could theoretically be the same person as the original because the genetic makeup would be identical.


But there is another aspect of cloning that scientists are experimenting with, because they believe they might have the potential for great strides in future medicine. It is called therapeutic cloning, which involves cloning cells and even body parts from an adult for use in replacement of such worn out parts as the heart, kidney, and liver.


Yet another theoretical form of cloning would involve the possible replacement of an extensively damaged or failing body followed by a whole or partial brain transplant, thus extending the person’s life in a new and youthful body.


Might we someday consider growing a cloned but brainless body of ourselves as a supply depot for aging and worn-out parts? Would it be possible to have a kidney, heart, liver or lung transplanted from a living but brainless clone of ourselves for an extension of our lives?


The possibilities of this exciting new field of science appear almost endless. But there is that problem of religiosity . . . the very kind of thinking that caused President George W. Bush to withhold federal funding for stem cell research in American labs during his eight long years in office. Bush, the mass human killer in Afghanistan and Iraq, considered a cell from a human embryo or placenta to be a potential living soul.


The political debate over banning cloning has been an international event. The United Nations General Assembly began considering such a law in 2001, but failed to reach a consensus on passing a binding convention against all forms of cloning. The assembly adopted a non-binding Declaration on Human Cloning, calling for a ban on all forms of human cloning, in 2005.


While U. S. legislators have wrangled over proposed bills that would ban all forms of cloning, to date there are no federal laws in the United States that ban cloning completely. Fifteen states, however, have adopted anti-cloning laws which vary from state to state.


Thus the question remains; will an ultra conservative court allow the use of our cells to clone body parts in our own bodies? For example, the concept of growing a cloned human heart in our own chest, next to a damaged heart, is a conceivable method of replacing hearts. But would those new growing cells in the body be given the same individual rights as a new fetus in those early months of a pregnancy?


Would such science be conceived by Christian judges and lawmakers as “the work of the Devil?”


When we have debates over the morality of medical research using the living stem cells of unborn and aborted babies, you can believe the courts will perceive something wrong with using human cells to grow new kidneys or livers, even if we plant them somewhere in our own bodies.


The belief that it is immoral to destroy a living human body, even a brainless and soulless clone of ourselves produced from a Petri dish, is a religious fallacy.


The insanity of the archaic world religious belief systems is entrenched to deeply in the minds of the masses that we fear that all of this marvelous research is going to be reserved for laboratories and tested only in animals.


The good side to this story is that scientists are an independent lot. No matter what lawmakers say, if the cloning of a human for medical reasons is possible, you can be sure that someone is going to do it. It may have already been accomplished, but under a cloak of secrecy.


Somewhere amazing things will be accomplished. And yes, some of the things we see will seem wrong. But the right and wrong of what we do is for each of us to determine for ourselves.