Cloning Humans

Here is the situation to which you are expected to respond: In January 2018, Chinese scientists revealed that they had successfully used somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to produce two identical, live monkeys named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong. The successful cloning of the macaques, Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, followed the cloning of Dolly the sheep more than twenty years earlier. In February 1997, the Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut announced that he had successfully cloned a lamb. “Dolly” was the first mammal to be cloned from adult body cells. A clone, by definition, is a genetic replication, by nonsexual means, of a single parent. In the years between Dolly and Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, more than twenty animals had been cloned. Dolly’s birth was the culmination of many years of research and many failed attempts (276, according to Dr. Wilmut’s report). Successful cloning of mammals has ushered in a new era of human manipulation of the natural world. If the same procedures used to create Dolly and Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong were followed with human material, cells taken from an adult person would be placed in a human egg from which the nucleus and DNA had been removed. Then, the egg would be implanted in a woman where a successful period of gestation and birth would result in a child being born with only one parent and genetic material identical to her or his one parent. In 1997, Dolly’s birth was so significant that scientists and laypeople reacted with a mixture of excitement and fear. At the time of Dolly’s birth, human cloning was banned in a number of countries such as Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, and Spain. In the United States, then President Bill Clinton took two steps: 1) He banned federal funding for attempts to clone human beings, and 2) He called on the National Bioethics Advisory Commission to review the issue and make recommendations. The Commission’s report included a number of conclusions and recommendations: 1. They concluded that “at this time it is morally unacceptable” to attempt human cloning. They recommended: a. The continued moratorium on federal funding for cloning projects. b. The request that private agencies voluntarily comply with the moratorium. 2. They suggested that Federal legislation be passed to prohibit attempts at cloning for a period of three to five years, after which the situation would be reviewed to determine whether the moratorium should be continued. 3. They warned against legislation that might interfere with another important scientific research. 4. They asked that people of “different ethical and religious perspectives and traditions” consider carefully the “ethical and social implications of this technology.” 5. They asked that government agencies be urged to keep the public informed of significant development. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission ceased to exist in 2001 when President Bill Clinton left office. Now, following the creation of Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, you have been chosen to continue its work of reviewing the issue of human cloning and making recommendations about how to proceed. I am sure you are very glad you have taken this ethics course because you have knowledge and experience to help you take on this important task! Following the birth of Dolly and, more recently, Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, it appears that human cloning can be done (or, at least, that it is realistic to envision the capability of human cloning in the future). The question remains, however, whether human cloning should be done. You are supposed to respond to the question: Should human cloning be allowed? As you respond, you should o take a position on this question, o demonstrate the ways you use sources for ethical reflection from the Quadrilateral we have discussed in this course (Reason, Religion or Higher Authority, Tradition, and Experience), o develop your answer using at least one of the three modes of ethical reasoning we have covered (Teleology, Deontology, or Areteology), and o describe ways in which your answer to this issue helps you “benefit from applying ethical reflection to real-world issues.” The final point calls you to address the “so what” question about the position you are taking. In other words, in what ways does your position on human cloning affect your life (and others’ lives)? Or, how might your ethical reflection on this issue help you reflect on other moral issues in the future?

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