Cloning is a controversial term as it can refer to the various elements of cloning unless specified. The various elements include: somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), cellular cloning, molecular cloning and embryo twinning. SCNT is what the most people care about, as it takes the nucleus of a mature cell and lodges it in an egg cell whose nucleus has been retrieved. This forms the case of Dolly, where donor cells were put adjacent an enucleated egg and little electric current was used to fuse the two. This is a process known as fusion.
Myths about Human Reproductive Cloning
The following myths get associated with cloned persons.
The first myth postulates that cloning does not produce an existing person. This myth has it that reproductive cloning, brings into being the ancestor’s genes and not respective ancestor himself. The myth further explains that individual’s identity originates from the non-genetic origins, like growing up experience, while cloning helps to create the genetic base of an individual. This myth implies that no one can reproduce him/herself and any resultant child would never share memories with the adult ancestor. Cloning can only yield 99.8 % genes of the adult ancestor’s genes. The 0.2 % difference of conception and which may be significant results from genes of the mitochondria in the host egg.
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The second myth argues that cloned individuals would be persons and not drones. The argument behind this myth is that a child created through the reproductive cloning would require a nine-month gestation period by a woman like any other fetus. Further, he would not have any distinctive mark to trace his origin. He would hurt, think, sense and feel normally like any other child. Questions whether the cloned child’s origin could affect its status, as persons become apparent. Critics of cloning suspected that cloned children would be subject to discrimination, but this never came their way. There is a great likelihood that children created through cloning would enjoy all their rights like any other person. The critics implied that prejudiced individuals might handle cloned children as less than humans and this was thought to interfere with their normal lives. This logic also shed some discomfort to children cloned to an interracial couple, since other people would get prejudiced against such marriages and their children.
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Claim that Human Embryos Have the Potential for Personhood
Several scientists believe that before two weeks, human embryo contains no human form and cannot experience pain. They therefore widely hold that such should not be given a value. Jesuit Priest Richard McCormick in his response to whether the value should be allotted to the human embryo, says that regardless of the fact that various zygotes turn pathological tissues and others zygotes twins, the embryo is powerfully on track to develop as a person. Conservative believers disregard the possibility of an embryo to twin or never implant and view it as the part of the human family. McCormick goes further to quantify his argument. He says that human embryo preserves the potential to personhood, and as such commands profound respect. He concludes that any interference with potential future as such would not be an easy undertaking. There is actually a concern as to why human embryos get regarded as mere items of the research. In his empirical slippery slope hypothesis, McCormick predicts that the acceptance of embryos death would generalize to the acceptance of fetuses’ demise.
Reductio ad absurdum is a way of reasoning showing that consequences of the idea are absurd, and therefore doubt the idea itself. Several commentators think that handling the embryo valuably because it is a potential future may be refuted by a reduction ad absurdum. Keeping in mind the impact of overpopulation the conclusion that the embryo is potential to personhood becomes unrealistic. This is based on the argument that if a woman starts procreating at her teen, and proceeds through her fertile span, and if every potential future is valuable then she ought to conceive as many children as she can. If embryos have potential to personhood, then the following constitutes killing a person: Creation of embryos for IVF and freezing them for to use later, medical research or pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. In addition, Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) also amount to killing a person. If such implications are vague then the premise that human embryos are persons is false.
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The appropriate condition of having an interest is generally being able to desire something and one of the basic desires is to prevent pain. Since non-living things do not experience pain, we expect them to have no desires. Similarly, living organisms experience pain and they, therefore, have the interest to avoid such pain. It is commonly accepted for embryos that before they develop primitive streak at two weeks, there is no chance for the neural development to the extent that any being could be there to experience pain.
Hwang Woo Suk case
Hwang woo stunned American researchers after he announced that he had cloned stem cells and human embryos from them. The stem cells lines were genetically matched to the donors’ cells ushering in study cells of victims to specific diseases like Lou Gehrig’s disease. Richard Doeflinger termed Hwang Woo success as a present and clear danger to the human life dignity. In short Hwang Woo’s case received both applause and criticism. Champions of victims of disease of Parkinson termed it as a major breakthrough. This Korean research could not be easily verified since American researchers, who were federally funded, could not perform such a research and because no major institution of medicine furnished researchers with human embryos or eggs.
Queries soon arose about the photos of embryos on Hwang’s work which seemed to be the same ones and not different embryos. There were even some postings on the internet that Hwang faked his findings and his co-author of the research paper immediately withdrew his name. A thorough investigation of Hwang’s work by Hwang’s University and South Korea government followed. There were testimonies by the Hwang’s assistants to the effect that Hwang’ compelled them to fabricate findings and adjust pictures of embryos. The investigations showed that there were no productions of any stem cell lines from human embryos, no discoveries of easier cloning embryo techniques and no matching stem cell lines from donors that had been made by Hwang. Hwang was subjected to the trial for misusing the government money.
Critical Evaluation of the Claim that Human Embryos Have the Potential for Personhood
The potentiality for personhood of an embryo is a peripheral issue. Cloning has proved that anybody cell can become a person. Nucleus of a differentiated cell may be put into the enucleated egg of a human. The significant aspect of cloning is that it not only makes just embryos of the person, but any human cell. Bioethicist David Ozar held that though an embryo may not necessarily be a person, it is neither just a pebble nor a tissue. These notwithstanding embryos command the profound respect in the view of their likelihood to become persons in future. Respecting embryos implies more than a single issue.
First is that embryos should never be eaten or get encased into plastics as earrings. Secondly, a ban should be put on buying large volumes of bodily products like bones, blood and cartilage.