Human Cloning vs. Natural Child Birth:
Which would you prefer?
What is the true purpose of human cloning? According to the experts, cloning will help find cures for life threatening diseases and create human organs to save human life; however, this can only be achieved through human experimentation. It took scientists 277 times before they were able to duplicate Dolly, the first mammal clone. How many tries before they can accomplish cloning a human? Once they succeed in this endeavor, can the scientists guarantee the health and safety of the clone? When a woman gives birth, no one can guarantee the health or safety of the baby either. The only person who can play an essential role in ensuring her babys health is the childs mother as opposed to a group of scientists who play a huge part in creating a child with the high risk of genetic deformity. Careless mothers do exist, but there is a difference between an individuals choice and government control over the artificial creation of human life. After all the research read and studied, the only way human cloning can be somewhat justified is by helping infertile couples become pregnant. Thus while human cloning decreases the value of human life aesthetically and morally, natural childbirth enhances it. Through examining the process of Adult DNA Cloning, and by demonstrating the different views and opinions of those for it and against it, one can make a fair conclusion of what would they would prefer: a natural child or a human clone?
Adult DNA cloning involves removing the DNA from an embryo and replacing it with the DNA from another animal. Every cell in the body houses the genetic material needed in order to create an exact clone of the original body. Cells are only limited to perform certain functions and most scientists believe that these differentiated cells cannot reprogram themselves into acting like fertilized eggs. Then how was it done with Dolly? The nucleus, hence the DNA, of a donor egg is taken out and the egg is fused with a cell from the human being copied. Then an electric current is passed through the cell, which allows it to begin growing into a genetic duplicate. This is how Dr. Ian Wilmut, of the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland, cloned Dolly. The news of this achievement became public on February 23, 1997. Since then, the idea of human cloning has become so rampant. As a result of this heated debate so many groups of people have taken action and a stance of either supporting this phenomenon or rejecting it (Gibbs, 48, 50; Robinson, what is human Cloning?).
Most of its supporters are scientists from countries around the world who have embraced the idea and have started research on it. On July 22, 1998, Dr. Ryzo Yanagimachi from the University of Hawaii announced the cloning of mice. They were able to reproduce seven mice, which were clones of clones. In Japan, researchers from Kinki University cloned 8 calves from a single adult cow. On December 24, 1998, researchers at the Infertility Clinic in Korea at Kyeonghee University announced they had successfully cloned a human. Scientist Kim Seung-bo and Lee Boyeon took an ovum from a thirty-year old woman, removed its DNA, and inserted a somatic cell from the same woman. They were able to confirm division up to the fourth cell stage, but they decided to destroy it because their goal was not to clone a human, but to clone organs for human transplant. The other supporters are usually those who have lost loved ones or who are battling a fatal disease and who like to be cloned after they are dead or they die. (Gibbs, 50; Robinson, history).
President Clinton issued a national ban on the federal funding of human cloning in the United States on March 4, 1997. Some other opponents are those who believe the consequences of human cloning have a larger negative effect than a positive one. The most ironic opponent of the issue is Ian Wilmut. He feels the risk outweighs any justification that an infertile couple might have for experimenting with human cloning. Glenn McGhee who wrote the book The Human Cloning Debate based one of his arguments on Wilmuts idea. McGee makes this argument in "The Perfect Baby: A Pragmatic Approach to Genetics" by stating
As we have noted elsewhere, it is doubtful even in the long term that an individual or
couple will present a rationale for the use of human cloning technologies that is
compelling when balanced against the risks. (22)
It may be extremely devastating for couples in this situation; however, should x number of babies die in the process of trying to clone one just so that couples human need to have a child is satisfied? The negative repercussions are too high in order for scientists to take those kinds of risks. The consensus of most Americans is that they are against it. TIME/CNN took a recent poll which recorded 90% of the American public thought cloning human beings was a bad idea. Only 7% thought it was a good idea. Even when posed with difficult life altering situations such as using cloning to save the life of the person being cloned or helping infertile couples have children, an overwhelming number of Americans still did not accept these circumstances as enough justification to support human cloning. Now that the general consensus has been established, the social and ethical ramifications must be analyzed (Gibbs, 55).
With human cloning, there are many more negative effects than positive ones. The only positive one that can be considered would be for infertile couples wanting to have a child; (the other reasons all involve human experimentation, which for obvious reasons will not be considered.) One of the parents would be cloned and so their human need to reproduce will be satisfied. Some ethical questions posed would be: Who decides which of these couples will partake in this experiment? Should they be screened just as if they were adopting a child? What happens if the couple divorces? Does the mother still have the primary right? But what if the father was the one cloned (Gibbs, 49)?
With natural birth, all of these questions, all of these problems would be eliminated; not saying that they do not exist, but why bring about more social turmoil. Horrendous custody battles now exist and have been for many years. The children are the ones who suffer the most. If these couples who want these children really thought about it instead of thinking about their own selfish needs, the few percentile of this nation who is for it would probably be against it. Then there are those who would like to bring back a baby who was still born or a mother dying of cancer, but what would be the purpose of that? Just to satisfy ones selfish and narcissistic need to have a familiar face and body present. The clone might be genetically identical but that clone will not have the same personality. The memories gathered over the years cannot be reprogrammed into the clones mind and even so having knowledge of something is not the same as experiencing it first hand. Some might argue that having a child is a narcissistic act; however, it is not because there is no guarantee which parent the child will physically resemble or behave as. It is a combination of two individuals, not just one like it is with cloning. (Gibbs, 52; Steinbock, 33).
Human childbirth gives a couple or an individual the freedom to bring a child into the world without having to worry about all of the factors mentioned above. Infertile couples have the option of adopting any of the children in this world who cannot be taken care of by the biological parents. The woman may not experience giving birth but raising and loving a child establishes an emotional and spiritual attachment just as if they had given birth themselves. The adoptive parent will realize and praise the child individuality. Humans value their individuality. They value diversity and freedom. How free will a human clone really be? Through natural childbirth, this diversity and freedom is reached. Even identical twins have very different personalities. They each have their likes and dislikes. Cloning would take that away. The clone would be living in another person shadow, trying to fill that persons shoes.
The need for a loving heterosexual relationship is not required because as described above only one individuals genetic material is needed for the cloning to be complete. Women will continue to experience child bearing, but a man is not required. When a woman experiences natural as opposed to artificial pregnancy, the child inside of her is a combination of two individuals. Most partners choose who they want to be with and regardless of the reasons, they choose to give birth to a unique individual. Childbirth is extremely essential to the value of human life because of all the tough work that goes into having this child. Finding a mate, settling down, sacrificing by choice are all tough difficult situations to deal with. Falling in love or even deciding to have a child which didnt require all of that (e.g.: one-night stand, short-term relationship) still requires the person to struggle. Then the amount of work put into raising a child is priceless. You value something more when you have to work hard for it. For example when a person is working really hard on a research paper and it takes that person weeks to gather the research and all of the leg work and late sleepless nights that go into this paper, it means so much more than if someone else wrote the paper for that person. If that individuals computer froze and all the work was lost it would not be a big deal if someone else wrote the paper. It would cause a lot of crying, cursing and foul behavior if that person actually wrote the paper. This concept works the same for any action one is involved in. The harder it is to accomplish, the more value is attached (Howard, 50).
Human cloning will not eliminate the human desire to mate with another human; however, the generation, which is born into a society as such, will definitely be affected by it negatively. Eventually, it will become so passé that having a child will not be as special as it used to be. Scientists will find ways to nurture the embryo outside of the mothers womb. Women wouldnt lose their hourglass figures and the pain and suffering brought on by natural child bearing would be eliminated. In addition, the emotional and spiritual attachment a mother has for her child will lessen because unlike the past, humans will be able to be replaced.
There really is no need for human cloning. Natural childbirth has worked fine for human and animals for millions and millions of years. Why disrupt the natural order of life? If there is a way to create human organs without disrupting the standard of living that promotes human life, there would be more followers of human cloning and less opponents. However until then, through the respect humans have given each other by learning how to live with one another, this same respect must be given to those who have a right and freedom to live.
Statistics on Child Births
Birth rates have been steadily declining in the US since the early 1990s. Consider these statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
ð The year 1997 marked a record low in births in the US: 14.5 births per 1,000 population.
ð In 1997, 3,880,894 babies were born in the US.
ð The peak age for childbearing years remains in the 20s.
ð There is a slow increase in births to older mothers in their 30s.
ð More women than ever are receiving prenatal care in the US -- about 82.5 percent.
ð Fewer women are smoking during pregnancy -- about 13.2 percent in 1997.
ð Preterm birth rates (less than 37 weeks in the womb) increased dramatically to 11.4 percent (437,000 babies) in 1997, and the number of low birthweight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) increased to 7.5 percent (291,000 babies). The rise in both preterm births and low birthweight babies can be partly attributed to the rise in multiple births.
ð More pregnancies are resulting in multiple births. In fact, in 1997, twin births increased 3 percent to 104,137, and triplet births increased 16 percent to 6,148.
Brannigan, Michael C. Ethical Issues in Human Cloning: Cross Disciplinary Perspectives.
New York: Chatham House, 2001.
Gibbs, Nancy. "Baby Its You! And You and You ." Time 19 Feb. 2001: 49-57.
Howard, Ted, and Jeremy Rifkin. Who Should Play God? The Artificial Creation of Life and
What it means for the Future of the Human Race. New York: Delacorte Press, 1977.
McGee, Glenn. The Perfect Baby : A Pragmatic Approach to Genetics. Lanham: Rowman &
Littlefield Publishers, 1997.
Steinbock, Bonnie. "Respect for Human Embryos". Cloning and the Future of Human Embryo
Research. Ed. Paul Lauritzen. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Human Cloning: Introduction. Bruce A. Robinson. 26 March 2001. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance <http://www.religioustolerance.org>.