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What is the Deal?

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December 29, 2002

What is the deal with Human Cloning?

By Jan A. Larson

Some loonies that happen to believe that life on Earth was created by extra-terrestrials claim to have cloned a human baby.  At the time of the announcement, Clonaid CEO Brigette Boisselier did not present evidence indicating that the baby was a genetic match to her mother.  Supposedly that evidence will be forthcoming.

For some, the idea of human cloning evokes ghoulish images of hundreds of identical, zombie-like creatures pouring from the laboratory of a mad scientist onto the streets, bent on the destruction of the human race.  Others shudder at the thought of soulless creatures being used for nothing more than a ready storehouse for replacement organs for their wealthy and ruthless “masters.”  Yet others fear that a madman in the mold of Adolf Hitler will attempt to use cloning to create a master race.

These same folks may be surprised to learn that identical twins (or triplets, quads, etc.) are essentially clones.  That is, each individual shares the identical DNA with another individual.  I’ve personally known identical twins and, as far as I’ve been able to tell, they are neither ghoulish nor soulless.

The religious argument against human cloning that takes the position that clones do not have souls really doesn’t stand up.  Why would the Creator allow a clone to be alive in the first place if it did not have a soul?  It would be easy for an omniscient Creator to “prevent” cloning from ever being successful.

From a personal standpoint, I really don’t see the benefit of human cloning being used to create fully formed individuals.  It isn’t as if someone could decide that they would like to have a twin.  That twin would be at a minimum nine months younger and, depending on how old the person in question was, could be many years or decades younger.  It might be somewhat of a novelty to have a genetically identical person around, but I’m not sure it serves any real purpose other than to provide, as previously mentioned, a source for organ transplantation.  This, obviously, opens up a very large number of ethical questions.

There is also the issue of obtaining successful human cloning.  The cloning of other species has resulted in various abnormalities in the clones.  Do we really want to intentionally produce individuals that have a high risk for abnormalities?

In general, I favor the advancement of science and medicine and believe that cloning, particularly the cloning of stem cells does have the potential for legitimate scientific and medical benefits.  However, I have serious questions about the wisdom or necessity for the cloning of human individuals.  Are the risks worth the reward?


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The opinions expressed in "What is the Deal?" guest columns reflect those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Pie of Knowledge.  The owner and staff of the Pie of Knowledge accept no responsibility for the content or accuracy of submitted commentary.  (c) Copyright 2002 - The Pie of Knowledge (Jan A. Larson).  All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.