Stem Cell Research Paper

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On July 5, 1996, Dolly, a domestic sheep, was born at the Roslin Institute, a research center in Scotland. The birth, however, was far from normal. Dolly had been produced by cloning methods and was born to a surrogate mother (“Cloning Fact Sheet”). The methods used to clone Dolly were once considered to be biologically impossible (Wilmut and Highfield 12). Thus, once Dolly’s birth was announced to the rest of the world, an immediate debate over the ethics of cloning began. In particular, reproductive cloning was widely discussed because it could possibly be accomplished through somatic cell nuclear transfer to clone entire humans (“Cloning Fact Sheet”). For medical, social, religious, and political reasons, there are both proponents and opponents of reproductive human cloning and its ethics. Currently, the best way to deal with reproductive cloning is to ban its use because there are many negative consequences that could arise from using cloning technology.

There are two different types of human cloning: therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. The goal of the former is to obtain stem cells from embryos that can be used to study the growth of the human body and to find possible cures and treatments for various diseases (“Cloning Fact Sheet”). The purpose of the latter, on the other hand, is to create a whole human being through cloning. Specifically, reproductive cloning is done using somatic cell nuclear transfer and can theoretically produce a human that has the same exact nuclear DNA as another individual. Currently, though, this technology has only been used to clone animals and has not yet been successful in cloning humans (“Cloning Fact Sheet”). The process constituting somatic cell nuclear transfer begins with the extraction of nuclear genetic material from the cell of an adult donor. Then an egg is deprived of its nucleus, and the DNA taken from the donor cell is placed into the egg. Afterwards, the egg is stimulated by either electric current or chemicals so that it will start dividing into more cells. Eventually, an embryo forms from the cell division, and this embryo is implanted in a host uterus, where it develops until birth (Morris).

The arguments for and against reproductive cloning are diversified. There are more people who oppose this form of cloning than those who support it because of the unknown implications of cloning in general (Morris). Even when applied only to animals, the technology for reproductive cloning is still immature. Nevertheless, proponents of reproductive cloning claim that reproductive cloning should be permitted due to a wide variety of reasons. One of these is freedom of choice, which supporters argue should not be taken away from those who want to procreate by methods of cloning. Persons who might want to procreate via cloning include same-sex couples and persons with infertility (Morris). Another common argument is that the process of cloning entire humans can provide insight into how certain genetic diseases can be cured (Morris). In addition, clones could be used as replacements for lost family members, and they could be used as replicas of persons with high intellectual ability or social status, like science geniuses and celebrities (Wilmut and Highfield 36).

Opponents of reproductive human cloning base part of their argument on the low success rate of animal cloning. On average, the success rate for somatic cell nuclear transfer is between a low of 0.1 percent and a high of 3 percent, and critics point out that human cloning may yield similar success rates (“Risks of Cloning”). Opponents also note that cloned animals often have many health problems during their lives, including deformations, immune system deficiency, and various other disorders, which could also be present in human clones (“Risks of Cloning”). In addition, it is argued that if made reality, reproductive cloning will challenge the individuality of each clone and will put “undue pressure [on the...
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