Ethical Rights

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Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cells

5. Reasons and arguments for human cloning

1. Arguments supporting human cloning should not ordinarily be required. If people intend to conceive a child through any means, and they intend to love the child and provide it with a good upbringing, society should not need to approve how they conceive the child. If cloning were safe, and permitted, it would not be cheap. Couples would not make a frivolous decision to clone a child, just as they do not make such decisions about undergoing IVF treatment. Indeed there are many situations where children are conceived sexually, accidentally, and without due consideration of the child’s future development or well-being. Society should instead focus its efforts on these situations.

2. There are many arguments for human cloning, reproductive and non-reproductive. There is a strong case for reproductive cloning when it is accepted as safe. Gregory Pence’s book, ‘Who’s afraid of human cloning?’, makes a case for cloning technologies, when accepted as safe. Reproductive cloning provides options for people with mitochondrial disease and for couples where the male has no viable sperm to create a child genetically related to himself. Cloning could also be used by IVF couples to create more embryos for IVF procedures, and to create embryos, or help create a child, to be a donor of stem cells for a sick sibling or relative, and create children for homosexual couples that are genetically related to one or both of them (the latter situation would apply to female homosexuals). Cloning allows one to propagate one’s genes, and Richard Dawkins would argue that we create a greater bond to those genetically related to us—in this way cloning may be preferred by some couples over adoption. Cloning should become just another reproductive technology when it is accepted as safe.

3. With regard to human tissue cloning, Gregory Stock, a US biophysicist, states ‘what real-world dangers do we face that might warrant so premature a repudiation of the therapeutic possibilities inherent in these scientific breakthroughs?’. With regard to human reproductive cloning, what is so abhorrent about it that would be an imperative duty for a government to regulate against it?

4. Gregory Pence refers to the work of Harvard philosopher John Rawls. Rawls posits that the first principle of civilised life is the protection of our basic civil liberties. Rawls would claim that any attempt to impose a procreative program on us violates such liberties. When a government says we cannot reproduce in certain ways, these liberties are being violated.


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