Chapter Four ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS The prospect of creating children through somatic cell nuclear transfer has elicited widespread concern, much of it in the form of fears about harms to the children who may be born as a result. There are concerns about possible physical harms from the manipulations of ova, nuclei, and embryos which are parts of the technology, and also about possible psychological harms, such as a diminished sense of individuality and personal autonomy. There are ethical concerns as well about a degradation of the quality of parenting and family life if parents are tempted to seek excessive control over their children s characteristics, to value children according to how well they meet overly detailed parental expectations, and to undermine the acceptance and openness that typify loving families. Virtually all people agree that the current risks of physical harm to children associated with somatic cell nuclear transplantation cloning might justify a prohibition at this time on such experimentation. In addition to concerns about specific harms to children, people have frequently expressed fears that a widespread practice of such cloning would undermine important social values, such as opening the door to a form of eugenics or by tempting some to manipulate others as if they were objects instead of persons, and exceeding the moral boundaries inherent in the human condition. Arrayed against these concerns are other important social values, such as protecting personal choice, maintaining privacy and the freedom of scientific inquiry, and encouraging the possible development of new biomedical breakthroughs. As somatic cell nuclear transfer cloning could represent a means of human reproduction for some people, limitations on that choice must be made only when the societal benefits of prohibition clearly outweigh the value of maintaining the private nature of such highly personal decisions. Especially in light of some arguably compelling cases for attempting to create a child through somatic cell nuclear transfer, the ethics of policy making must strike a balance between the values we, as a society, wish to reflect and the freedom of individual choice and any liberties we propose to limit. * * * * * *
One of the key challenges for the Commission has been to understand many of the moral and religious objections to creating human beings using somatic cell nuclear transfer as well as to investigate and articulate the widespread intuitive disapproval of cloning human beings in this manner.1 This challenge included an initial attempt to examine the plausibility and persuasiveness of these objections and of the counter arguments or especially compelling and specific cases for deploying this technology. As with the concerns offered in opposition to cloning, those offered in its defense also must be examined for their plausibility and persuasiveness. Religious perspectives
In support of its analysis, NBAC commissioned a paper written by Dan Brock, Brown University, titled “Cloning Human Beings: An Assessment of the Ethical Issues Pro and Con.” Some of the material in this chapter is derived from that paper.
were presented in the previous chapter. This chapter focuses on ethical principles not tied to any particular religious tradition, although these broad principles may be incorporated in the teachings of many religions. The task is made quite difficult by the fact that neither moral philosophers nor religious thinkers can agree on the "best" moral theory; indeed, they often cannot even agree on the practical implications of any single theory. For example, some people base their arguments on an assessment of the particular harms and benefits that would flow to individuals and to society if somatic cell nuclear transfer techniques were to become commonplace. Others express their views by arguing about overarching rights—the child’s right to individuality and dignity versus the nucleus donor’s...