Cloning: II. Reproductive
Reproductive cloning uses the technique of cloning to produce a child. Using technology to assist in "making babies" is nothing new. Artificial insemination has been available since the first part of the twentieth century. The first of many "test-tube babies" produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born in England in 1978. Newer technologies include the injection of sperm directly into the egg and the use of frozen and donated eggs and embryos. In 1985 there were thirty fertility clinics in the United States alone, but by 2000 this number had grown to more than 350. More then 1 million couples in the United States seek fertility treatment each year, some of which includes the use of assisted reproductive technologies.
Only recently has producing a child through the technique of cloning become a real possibility. Since the birth of Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, Scotland in March, 1996, people have wondered whether it would also be possible to produce humans by this method. Dolly was a clone, a genetic copy, of a six-year-old ewe. Rather than coming into being by the joining of sperm and egg, Dolly was created by inserting the nucleus of a cell from the udder of this ewe into a sheep egg from which the nucleus had been removed. After being stimulated to grow, the egg was implanted into the uterus of another sheep from which Dolly was born. Because Dolly was a mammal like humans, people concluded that it might be possible to clone human beings as well. Moreover, Dolly was produced from a body or somatic cell of an adult sheep with already determined characteristics. Because the cells of an adult are already differentiated, have taken on specialized roles, scientists had previously assumed that cloning from such cells would not be possible. After Dolly, it seemed, it might be possible to produce an identical, though younger, twin of an already existing human being.
Reactions to this possibility varied widely. Some hailed it as another marvel of science that could benefit many. Others were horrified at the prospect that this seeming science fiction might become reality. Some thought of it as just another form of assisted reproductive technology, while others viewed it as something radically different. This overview of cloning for the purpose of reproduction will address the following questions:
What is reproductive cloning?
What are the present capabilities in the area of cloning?
What are the proposed uses of this type of cloning?
What are the ethical considerations and objections to it?
What are the public policy implications?
Cloning: Its Nature and Capabilities
The type of cloning described above is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) because it transfers the nucleus of a somatic or body cell into an egg from which the nucleus has been removed. A different type of cloning is achieved through fission or cutting of an early embryo. Through this method it may be possible to make identical human twins or triplets from one embryo. These genetically identical embryos could then be stored for further tries at conception, thus saving a woman from undergoing repeated ovulation during fertility treatment. Here, however, the concentration will be on cloning through SCNT. Also, this entry treats only cloning for reproductive purposes, not what has come to be called research or therapeutic cloning. In the latter, the same process occurs but is not intended to lead to the birth of a child. Rather it is oriented, for example, to the study of the process of development or to the producing of stem cells that might be useful in therapies for Parkinson's, diabetes, and other diseases.
How close are we to being able to produce a human being through cloning? As of the beginning of 2003, to researchers' knowledge there have been no human beings produced through cloning. Clonaid, a company founded by a religious sect called the Raelians, has claimed to have produced five cloned babies. However, no DNA or other evidence has so far been provided to substantiate this. In November 2001, Advanced Cell Technology, a small biotech company in Worcester, Massachusetts, said it had succeeded in producing a human embryo through cloning. Scientists extracted human eggs from seven volunteer women and replaced the nuclei of these eggs with cells from an adult donor, some skin cells and some cumulus cells (the cells surrounding a maturing egg). While none of the eggs that used the skin began the cell division process, three of the eight eggs that were re-nucleated with cumulus cells began dividing. One developed to the two-cell stage, one to the four-cell stage, and the third to the six-cell stage, at which point it too died.
One can also judge something of the potential for human cloning from the progress of animal cloning. In just the past two decades a number of higher animals have been produced through cloning, including cows, sheep, goats, mice, pigs, rabbits, and a cat called CC for carbon copy or copy cat. Cloned animals themselves have produced offspring of their own in the natural way. Dolly had six seemingly normal lambs. Several generations of mice have also been produced through SCNT. Clones have been derived not only from udder cells, but also from cells from embryos and fetuses, and from mice tails and cumulus cells.
However, these experiments have been neither efficient nor safe. In the case of Dolly, 277 eggs were used to produce only one lamb. In March 1996, the Roslin Institute also produced two lambs from mature embryo cells, Megan and Morag. However, they were only two out of five who were born and survived in a project that used over 200 embryos. Alan Coleman, research director of PPL Therapeutics, the company that produced Dolly, reported having cloned five female pigs who were genetically modified to lack a gene that makes pig organs incompatible with the human immune system. However, here the success rate was again quite low. Scientists implanted 300 embryos, producing twenty-eight sows that gave birth to seven live piglets, only four of which survived. In another project involving rabbits, 371 eggs were implanted, using twenty-seven rabbits as foster mothers, but only six rabbits were born and only five of these survived to the state of weaning. CC, the cat mentioned above, was one of eighty-seven embryos implanted in eight surrogate mother cats, and was the only one of two resulting pregnancies that survived.
Cloned animals also have shown various abnormalities. In one study all twelve cloned mice died between one and two years of age. Six of the cloned mice had pneumonia, four had serious liver damage, and one had leukemia and lung cancer. On February 14, 2003, Dolly died. She was euthanized because she suffered from a lung disease that the owners feared would spread. At age five, Dolly had also been diagnosed with arthritis. Some suggest that this may be due to the fact that she was cloned from the cell of an already aged adult sheep. However, in late 2001 Advanced Cell Technology claimed to have cloned thirty cattle from skin cells, twenty-four of which were alive and healthy between one and four years later. Some say that the high failure rate and the prevalence of serious abnormalities in animals means that cloning humans is probably not possible. Others believe that with time the efficiency and safety of animal cloning will improve and then it may be possible to clone human beings as well.
Uses of Reproductive Cloning
What uses might there be, or what reasons might someone have, for producing a human being through cloning? What follows is a survey of a number of possible uses of this procedure, some of which are obviously more problematic than others. The ethical issues that have been or might be raised regarding the possible uses of reproductive cloning will then be discussed.
One of the probable primary uses, if cloning does become a reality, is for the treatment of fertility problems. For example, if the male or husband is sterile, or does not produce sperm, DNA from one of his cells could be inserted into a de-nucleated egg from the female or wife who would also bear the child. Both would then be contributing to the make up and birth of the child. Many have pointed out that there is a strong desire among people who want a child to have one that is biologically related to them. These parents also may wish to avoid the confusion that can result from the use of donor eggs or sperm. If the woman is infertile, another woman's egg could be used along with the DNA of the infertile woman or her husband or partner. Cloning might also be used to avoid genetic diseases.
Another possible use would be in the fertilization of a woman who wants to have children to whom she is related biologically, but who does not have a partner and does not wish to use donor sperm. The woman might be one who is single and who has not found a suitable partner, or who is divorced and still wants to have children. A cell from her body could be used. In this case the child would be a clone of the woman herself. Or in the case of a lesbian couple, a cell from the body of the other partner could be used. In this case both would have contributed to the make up of the child.
Someone might want to produce a child who is a clone of a much-loved spouse or child who has died. As noted below, while this would not bring back the loved one or duplicate them exactly, there would be some similarities and thus in a way the ability to keep some part of the person alive. One might even want to achieve a certain kind of immortality by cloning oneself. This would be similar in some way to living on through our children and their children.
Cloning could also be used to help ill family members. There have been cases in which parents have conceived a child in the hope that he or she could be a donor match for a sibling who had some serious disorder. A child who was the clone of such a sibling could also be a blood or bone marrow donor for the sibling. Although no one is suggesting that clones would be produced simply as the source of organs, some organ donation might not be objectionable.
Finally, cloned human beings could provide us with further information about the relationship between nature and nurture. A disabled person might want to show or see what he would have been like but for the disability, or someone might simply be curious to see how a clone of himself might grow to adulthood.
Ethical Objections and Arguments
Ethics judges or evaluates human choices and actions or policies as being, for example, good or bad, right or wrong, and just or unjust. Ethical or moral judgments (the terms being used synonymously here) require reasons that justify them. Many people have raised various ethical objections regarding human cloning. The arguments and the reasons given for them are summarized here as well as the responses of critics of the arguments. However, since what is presented is only a summary, it is not possible to give a full analysis of the kind of reasons that they exemplify and why these might or might not be well-grounded in generally-accepted values or in ethical theory.
It should also be noted at the outset that ethical evaluation is independent of social policy and law. Not everything that is morally bad or wrong ought to be illegal. It takes a separate set of reasons to conclude that because some instances of human cloning might be morally wrong that they should then also be illegal. Nevertheless many of our policies and laws do have ethical bases. First the ethical arguments will be treated and then finally some social policy issues related to them. Some suggestions regarding the relationship between these two domains will also be provided.
One of the objections to human cloning most often raised is that it would be Playing God. While it is not always clear just what is meant by this, at least three or four overlapping versions of this objection can be delineated. One is that only God can and should create a human life. This role is specifically reserved to God, such that when humans who try to do it take on a role that is improper for them to play.
Those who hold this view might use religious reasons and sources to support it. However, while this looks like a religious position, it is not necessarily so. For example, it might mean that the coming into being of a new person is a creation, not a making or production. A creation is the bringing into being of something the outcome of which is not known in advance. The coming into being of a human being or person is also a said to be a mysterious thing and something in the face of which humankind should be in awe. When producing a human being, as in cloning, people become instead makers or manipulators of a product that they control and over which they have power. Rather, this argument continues, those who bring a child into the world should do so with an attitude of respect for something wondrous, the coming into existence of a totally unique and new being.
A third version of this objection stresses the significance of nature and the natural. In producing a human being through cloning, scientists act against human nature. In humans, as in all higher animals, reproduction is sexual, not asexual. Cloning, however, is asexual reproduction. Leon Kass is one of the strongest proponents of this view. He alleges that in cloning a human being people wrongly seek to escape the bounds and dictates of their own sexual nature.
A fourth and related version of the "don't play God" argument holds that attempting to clone a human being would demonstrate hubris, thinking we are wise enough to know the effects of one's acts when in fact that is not the case. It is similar to the warning that it is dangerous to "mess with mother nature." When dealing with human beings one should be particularly careful. Above all each person should avoid doing what unknowingly may turn out to be seriously harmful to the individuals produced and to future generations.
Just as there are various possible interpretations of this objection, there are various responses to, or criticisms of, it. On the point that by interfering in nature people take on a role that belongs only to God, the response is to ask how this is any different from other ways that man interferes with or changes nature. One example is medicine. Here science fights off natural threats, disease, and disability, for example, with inoculations, insulin, blood transfusions and prostheses. Others argue that God gave us brains to use and God is honored by that use, especially if it is for the benefit of humans and society. Human intelligence, the argument continues, is in fact a part of nature, so that in using it people do not actually oppose nature but follow it. Critics also point out that in using technology to assist reproduction, one does not necessarily lose a sense of awe in the face of the coming into being, though with human help, of a unique new being. Objectors may point out, however, that cloning does not create a unique new being, but a copy of one that already exists or has existed. This objection thus overlaps with a second major objection, namely, that cloning is a threat to individuality.
Threats to Individuality
Some people object to the very idea of cloning a human being because they believe that the person cloned would not be a unique individual. He or she would be the genetic copy of the person from whom the somatic cell was transferred. He or she would be the equivalent of an identical twin of this person, though years younger. Moreover, since dignity and worth is attached to a person's uniqueness as an individual, cloned individuals would lose something that is the basis of the special value each person should have. Some go so far as to claim that each person has in fact a right to a unique identity. Others point out the difficulties that clones would have in maintaining their individuality. People often have difficulty distinguishing identical twins from one another. Sometimes they dress alike and often they are expected to act alike. The implication is that they do not have the freedom or ability to develop their own individual personalities.
This objection is sometimes expressed as the view that a cloned human being would not have a soul, that he or she would be a hollow shell of a person. This version of the objection is probably based on a religious belief that only God should be allowed to create a human being and in doing so directly acts to place a soul in that person. Thus if through cloning man produces a human being, God is prevented from placing a soul in that person.
Again, criticisms of these objections vary with the interpretation. One response is to review the facts about identical twins. Identical twins are more like each other than a clone would be to the person who was cloned. This is because identical twins shared the same nuclear environment as well as the same uterus. This would not be the case with clones. They would have had different mitochondria. This is important because the mitochondrial genes in the cytoplasm surrounding the re-nucleated cell do play a role in development. Clones would have developed in different uteruses and they would be raised in different circumstances and environments. Studies of plants and animals give dramatic evidence of how great a difference the environment makes. For example, plants and some animals vary significantly in structure and characteristics depending on the altitude of the land in which they develop. The genotype does not fully determine the phenotype. CC, the cloned cat mentioned above, does not quite look like its mother, Rainbow, a calico tri-colored female. They have different coat patterns because genes are not the only factor that controls coat color. At one year CC also has a different personality from her mother, being much more playful and curious. Even in the science fiction stories of creation of groups of clones, for instance of Hitler in the movie, The Boys from Brazil, the creators try to duplicate the environment. While genes do matter, and thus there would be similarities between the clone and the person who was cloned, the two would not be identical. Furthermore, these critics note, even normally-produced children may look like one or both of their parents and this fact does not prevent them from being individuals.
On the matter of soul, critics wonder why could God not give each person, identical twin or clone, an individual soul. Consider when the soul is supposed to be implanted in an individual. Some medieval writers, for example, held that the soul appeared or was implanted in the fetus when it had developed sufficiently so that it was fit for a human soul. Previous to that point, some held, the developing fetus had a vegetable and then an animal soul. Aristotle held that the soul or psyche was simply the form of the being, that which gave it unity as a particular living being, whether it be a plant or animal or person. Like any living human being, a cloned human being would on this view be a distinct being and so would have a human psyche or soul.
A Right to an Open Future
Some have argued that cloning a human being is objectionable because the clone is expected to be like the person from whom he or she was cloned and thus would not be free to develop independently. Joel Feinberg has written about what he calls the "right to an open future" and Hans Jonas "the right to ignorance." The idea is that each person should be free to construct his or her own life and develop a unique self. However, a clone would be expected to use the person from whom he or she was cloned as a model. His or her future would already be given and known. Even if such expectations for the clone were not generally accepted, people would be hard pressed not to at least entertain such ideas. The argument also points out that an essential feature of having a child should include accepting whatever the child turns out to be. This would mean accepting the child as a unique being. Children are not objects to be controlled, nor to mold in a particular image. They have their own lives to lead. Parents may try to influence them and teach them while realizing that the children may decide to do or be different, which is their right as individual persons.
Critics of this argument may admit that there might be some inclination to have certain expectations for the clone. However, they argue, this undue influence is a possibility in the case of all parents and children, and not limited to clones. Parents decide on what schools to send their children and what sports or activities they will promote. The temptation or inclination may exist to unduly influence their children, but it is incumbent on parents to control the extent of that influence. The goal is to provide children with opportunities of various sorts from which the children themselves eventually choose. It is not cloning, these critics contend, that would cause a threat to an open future for a child, but the attitudes and character of parents and others.
Related to the previous objection is one that holds that cloned children or persons would tend to be exploited. If one looks at many of the reasons given for cloning a person, the objection goes, they tend to be cases in which the cloning is for the sake of others. For example, the cloned child could be a donor for someone else. We might make clones that are of a certain sort that could be used for doing menial work or fighting wars. We might want to clone certain valued individuals, stars of the screen or athletic arena. In all these cases the clone would not be valued for his or her own self nor respected as a unique person. He or she would be valued for what they can bring to others. German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) is cited as the source of the moral principle that persons ought not simply be used but ought to be treated as ends in themselves.
Critics could agree with Kant, but still disagree that a cloned human being would be any more likely than anyone else to be used by others for their own purposes only. Just because a child was conceived to provide bone marrow for a sick sibling would not prevent her from also being loved for her own sake. Even a case in which a man would clone himself in order to see how such a being might grow could turn out to be a situation in which the clone would be much loved and respected for himself and his own unique characteristics. Furthermore, the idea that we would allow anyone to clone a whole group of individuals and imprison them while training them to be workers or soldiers is not living in the present world in which there are legal protections against such treatment of children or other individuals. So also, critics may contend, the possibility that some group might take over society and create a 'Brave New World' in which children were produced only through cloning is far-fetched and no more than fiction. So also is a world in which there would be widespread cloning of stars and pop idols. While eugenics as a social policy has not been unknown in modern history, it is highly unlikely in open societies. Moreover, cloning is not the only way that eugenics could be practiced, as is demonstrated by the existence of (little-used) sperm banks of Nobel prize winners.
Effect on Families
Some people believe that if human cloning were a reality, it would only add to the confusion already generated by the use of some other reproductive technologies. When donated eggs and surrogate mothers are used, the genetic parents are different from the gestational parents and the rearing parents, and conflicts have arisen regarding who the real parents are. Cloning, objectors contend, would be even more of a problem. It would add to this confusion the blurring of lines between generations. The mother's child could be her twin, or a twin of her own mother or father.
According to Leon Kass in "The Wisdom of Repugnance, " this would lead to a confusion of kinship relations. In natural reproduction, two lineages come together to form one new being. "The child is the parents' own commingled being externalized and given a separate and persisting existence" (p. 30). Genetically, the cloned child has only one parent, the provider of the somatic cell. The child is literally the child of only one of a couple. What happens, then, to the traditional relationships with the members of the other side of the family, grandparents, aunts, and uncles? Or to the relationship of the husband to the child who is the twin of the mother or the wife to the child who is the twin of her husband? The answer, according to this objection, is that normal and natural human family relationships would be seriously eroded and harmed.
Critics of these arguments respond that, although there is a traditional type of family that in fact varies from culture to culture, there are also many different kinds of nontraditional families. Among these are single-parent households, adopted families, blended families, and lesbian and gay families. It is not the type of family that makes for a good loving household, the argument goes, but the amount of love and care that exists there. Children can learn new or different ways of relating to others. For example, just as stepparents can find ways of being valued parts of their stepchildren's lives, so also the parent who is not a genetic parent of a cloned child could adapt.
The Yuck Factor
The argument that gives this section its title goes something as follows: Sometimes one has a gut reaction to something regarded as abhorrent. One is offended by the very thought of it and cannot always give reasons for this reaction. Yet instinctively one knows that what is abhorred is wrong. Many people seem to react to human cloning in this way. Such emotional reactions can be described as an expression of a kind of knowledge, as a kind of moral intuition. They could even be viewed as expressions of a kind of deep wisdom. The very idea of someone making a copy of themselves or many copies of a famous star is simply bizarre, revolting, and repulsive, and these emotional reactions tell us that there is something very wrong with it, even if there is no full explanation for what that is.
Any adequate response to this argument would entail an analysis of how ethical reasoning works when it works well. Emotional reactions or moral intuitions may indeed play a role in moral reasoning. However, most philosophers would agree that adequate moral reasoning should not rely on intuition or emotion alone. Reflections about why one might rightly have such gut reactions are in order. People have been known to have negative gut reactions to things that in fact were not wrong—interracial marriage, for example. It is incumbent on those who assert that something is wrong, most philosophers believe, that they provide rational argument and well-supported reasons to justify these beliefs and emotional reactions.
Some of the arguments about human reproductive cloning have relied on the use of the language of rights for their conclusions. For example, as noted above, some have objected to cloning on grounds that people have a "right to an open future." In contrast, some argue that human cloning should be allowed because people have a "right to reproduce." And again, because cloning is such a risky process, some argue that it ought to be prohibited because children have a "right to be born healthy." Some attention should be given here, then, to what is meant by a right and why and whether we have certain rights, including these particular rights.
A right is generally understood to be a strong and legitimate claim that people can make to certain things. If the assertion is based on moral grounds, we refer to the right as a moral right, whether or not it is reinforced by law. It is a negative right or claim if it is a claim not to be interfered with. This is sometimes called a liberty right. Thus a right to freedom of speech would be classified primarily as a negative or liberty right, that is, a right not to be prevented from speaking out. But a positive right is a claim to be given certain things. Thus a right to healthcare would be classified as a right to be given certain forms of healthcare. Since rights are legitimate claims, there must be serious reasons or grounds given for their assertion. One view is that only persons have rights (not rocks or plants, while animals are a disputed case) for only persons are moral agents who can be held responsible for their actions. There are certain things that are essential in order for a person to function well as a human being, and these can be legitimately claimed as rights.
Given these clarifications about rights, which of the above mentioned claims might be legitimate claims and of what kind? Being able to produce a child of one's own might well be so important for a full human existence (with certain exceptions perhaps for celibates or others who serve higher or other causes) that one might well be said to have a legitimate claim or right to do so. It would first of all be classified as a negative or liberty right, in other words a right not to be prevented from producing children, and perhaps also producing them through cloning, at least when no one is harmed. Whether it is also so important that it could be considered a positive right such that society ought to provide the means or aids for those who are having trouble reproducing in the natural way due to infertility problems is another matter. While it may not at first seem reasonable to assert a right to reproduce in this or that way, it may make sense if one thinks of it as one thinks of eyeglasses or wheel chairs, namely as necessary aids to seeing and mobility, things that are essential for a satisfying human life and thus legitimate claims that people can make. A right to an open future could most reasonably be claimed as a negative right, namely a right not to be prevented from choosing a life for oneself. Things that would seriously interfere with this would then be morally problematic as threats to that right.
A right to be born healthy would most reasonably be thought of as a negative right. No one should deliberately do what will result in harm to a child, or do what poses an inordinate or undue risk to its life or health. It would be more problematic to claim that a being that does not exist in some requisite sense has a right to be given a life. However, if it is to have a life, then one might well argue that it should if possible have a life with decent chances for development and happiness. One might ground this in notions of equal opportunity and justice, that each person should have a fair chance to develop and to compete for access to life's goods. Given the risks that are associated with animal cloning, grave questions can be raised about human cloning in this regard.
Safety and Harms
Given the abnormalities so far associated with animal cloning, there is a high likelihood that similar risks would accompany human cloning, at least at present. As described above, animal clones are at a rather high risk for a short life and a life with various diseases and abnormalities. Some have argued that since the alternative for the cloned child is not to exist at all, one cannot claim that giving birth to a child with abnormalities harms that child. One could only say the child was harmed if it were brought into existence with such difficulties that its life with these conditions would be worse than having no life at all. However, others have questioned this sort of reasoning. They believe that it does make sense to say that doing what one knows will bring into existence a child whose life will be short and encumbered with serious ills is to harm that child. Since the harm is serious and the risk is high, they argue, one would be wrong to take it. However, this is not the same as arguing that the law ought to prevent people from taking such risks for others. This is discussed below.
Other harms to consider relate to the number of oocytes or human eggs that thus far must be used to achieve one cloning success. These eggs would presumably have to be obtained from women volunteers. Care would have to be taken that these donors are not coerced or simply used as egg providers. So also care would have to be taken, as in other cases, that women into whom the enucleated eggs were placed for gestation would not be harmed or unduly influenced into performing that service.
Some people have objected to human cloning on the grounds of possible harm to society. One argument is the possible threat human cloning might pose to genetic diversity. If the human gene pool were seriously restricted, we would be less able than otherwise to adapt or respond to environmental changes and threats. However, this would be a possible problem only if human cloning were widespread. Since the normal method of reproduction is so much more enjoyable and desired, this would be very unlikely.
Often, when the issue of human cloning is addressed, there is a confusion about whether what is being asserted is that human cloning is morally right or wrong or whether it ought to be legally permitted or prohibited. These two realms are distinct. In particular, not everything that is morally wrong ought to be legally prohibited. Many examples can be provided, such as spiteful thoughts about others. So also, where a particular case of cloning a human being might be morally objectionable, there may or may not be grounds for it to be legally prohibited. This is partially dependent on the relationship between the realms of morality and the law.
Although not all the views on this relationship can be analyzed here, the most generally accepted view is governed by what has been called the harm principle. This is the view that the law ought to restrict people's liberty only to prevent them from harming others. The purpose of law is not to see that people do the morally right thing or that they do not do what causes harm only to themselves (if they are adults), for example. On the basis of the harm principle, the possible harm done to those cloned would be particularly relevant. This is why the safety aspect of human cloning is particularly important with regard to what the law should do. Both the degree and certainty of the harm would be important. If the risk were high and the harm serious, there would be grounds to restrict the cloning of human beings by law, at least until it were safe.
One could also argue that people can be harmed by having their basic liberties restricted (where they are not harming others) or their privacy invaded. Those arguing for procreative liberties may also use this principle in support of their views. However, there would still remain a provision that their liberty or privacy could be restricted to protect others from being seriously harmed.
Some have argued in favor of allowing human cloning to proceed on grounds that science cannot and should not be legally regulated or restricted. However, this view would surely need to be tempered at least by the harm principle. Many laws and policies do restrict science on this ground, including food and drug safety regulations. Moreover, while technology has many benefits, it can also be misused. Concerns regarding the misuse and dangers of technology have probably given rise to objections to human cloning of the "Frankenstein" type. Some fear that the results of human cloning could not be controlled. Why cloning would be less controllable than other technology is an open question. But some argue that it is better to permit certain practices and technologies to develop and even to fund them with public money because of the increased publicity and monitoring that this provides.
At present there are no U.S. federal laws prohibiting human cloning, though a few states have passed such legislation, among them California, Louisiana, Michigan, and Rhode Island. Internationally a number of countries and international groups have banned the cloning of humans, including Great Britain, the European Union, and the General Assembly of the United Nations. In early 2003, the recommendations of the U.S. National Bioethics Advisory Commission in their 1997 Report are still being considered by the U.S. Congress as it addresses the issue of human cloning, both reproductive and research/therapeutic. A key recommendation of this report was that at present human reproductive cloning ought to be prohibited because of the safety issues. Congress may also consider the July 2002 recommendations of a divided Presidential Council on Bioethics for a four-year moratorium on both therapeutic and reproductive cloning. The Council rejected these terms in its report, opting instead for "cloning-for-biomedicalresearch" and "cloning-to-produce-children." However, there are also more general existing laws that could govern human cloning such as those protecting human research subjects, especially non-consenting subjects.
This summary of the issues surrounding human reproductive cloning has considered the nature of human cloning, its present capabilities, and some possible uses for it. It has focused on the ethical objections to cloning, responses to them, and has concluded with some discussion of the relation between ethics and public policy.
SEE ALSO: Christianity, Bioethics in; Embryo and Fetus; Genetic Engineering, Human; Harm; Human Dignity; Natural Law; Reproductive Technologies; Research Policy; Sikhism, Bioethics in; Technology; Transhumanism and Posthumanism;Utilitarianism and Bioethics; and other Cloning subentries
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