Thursday, 4 June 2009

Therapeutic Cloning vs Reproductive Cloning

Cloning is the act of making a genetically identical organism. This paper will address whether the cloning of humans should be legalized in the United States. There are several different kinds of cloning; however, I will be addressing two of them, therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. Therapeutic cloning of humans should be legalized, but reproductive cloning of humans should not be legalized.

If someone was to need an organ transplant then there are two major obstacles which they need to negotiate. One, they would have to wait for an organ donor. Two, their body's immune system would have to accept the donated organ. If the immune system does not accept the organ right away, the patient would need to go on antibiotics to suppress their immune system. The danger in this is that the patient would be vulnerable to many diseases that a normal immune system would have no problem fighting off. A common cold or ear ache could become fatal to the patient. If this person got infected, they would have to be taken off the antibiotics long enough for their immune system to overcome the infection. The exclusion of the antibiotics would then cause the immune system to reject the organ. Therapeutic cloning of humans is the use of cloning to produce new body tissue from stem cells-a cell that can be made into other cells of the same type indefinitely-for use in the treatment of disease or injury. With therapeutic cloning scientists could clone specific tissues of the patient and grow a new organ for the patient in a laboratory. This would eliminate the waiting for an organ because one will be grown for them in the laboratory. This could also eliminate the possibility of the immune system rejecting the organ because it is from the patient's own body; therefore, the immune system would not recognize the new organ as a threat.

Another example would be if someone needed an arm. If someone were to get seriously hurt in war or a car accident, then therapeutic cloning of humans could give them an arm or leg. Again, the body would not reject it because it is coming from the body's own cells.

Along with organ transplants, therapeutic cloning can help with advances in curing vital diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Scientists can take just a few skin cells from a patient with diabetes, let it grow for 14 days, and then its stem cells would be extracted. Scientists would then try to find a cure for the disease. This takes many human embryos because it is a trial and error process to find a cure for such intricate diseases. It takes many tests to see if the cure is effective, and if the rest of the human body will be able to handle the cure without any side effects.

Reproductive cloning of humans is using cloning to produce a new genetically identical human from the cells of another human. Reproductive cloning should not be legalized because it is morally and ethically wrong that children are being born in laboratories with a group of scientists for parents and a patent on them. Scientists are said to be “playing god”, and that is morally and ethically wrong. Sexual reproduction has worked for thousands of years so why should we change that now? For some scientists the answer is selective traits, or choosing what traits they want to see appear in the new born baby. They believe they can give wanted traits like strength, speed and desired looks to humans like they do with plants. This is like “playing god”. The human is no longer a unique individual, but rather a piece of property with a patent on it. This is similar to what Hitler wanted to do. He wanted to make a “super army” by selecting traits, this way he could have an unlimited amount of big, strong, and fast men. This is not only unethical, but dangerous! Reproductive cloning of humans is not all bad. There is an advantage to it. The advantage is: if an infertile couple wants to pass on their family genes, then cloning themselves would pose as a great way to create children. Sure, that would be great for that family, but how many times would scientists fail in finding that perfect way to clone humans? How many babies would be successful in birth, but then have mental and/or physical defects for the rest of their life. We cannot take the risk of having that happen to hundreds or even thousands of children. As you can see, reproductive cloning of humans is much different than therapeutic cloning of humans.

The difference between therapeutic cloning of humans and reproductive cloning of humans is that in therapeutic cloning the embryos never come to term. Reproductive cloning is just the opposite: To have a clone of an original individual. Therapeutic cloning can help in several medical advances such as cures for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and diabetes. Reproductive cloning is used primarily to have another human in the world that looks like another. An identical twin is the same idea. With the population rising drastically, why do we need extra people? The only benefit is to allow an infertile couple the passing on of their family genes. Though this is good for them, the risk factor in finding exactly how to clone a healthy human is too high because in finding how many fetuses will die before birth or will be born with mental and/or physical defects for the rest of their life. Therapeutic cloning has many more advantages than reproductive cloning and is worth making legalized for the medical advancements. No humans suffer in therapeutic cloning of humans.

I believe a solution is to make laws stating specific rules on each type of cloning and whether or not they are legal. Reproductive cloning will be continually banned, and therapeutic cloning will be allowed with tight rules. Many people are afraid of what the future will hold if therapeutic cloning is legalized. Those people have a right to be scared. New things are scary, but can we seriously let the advantages go to waste because new things are scary? Obviously, fright is no reason to back down. In other efforts to keep reproductive cloning research to a minimum and to help therapeutic cloning of humans we can fund human therapeutic cloning in hopes that those scientists will be driven towards the legal research rather then trying to legalize or illegally research reproductive cloning of humans. Reproductive cloning will never be dropped completely, and will always be an issue in the future, but for now it is just an effort to look away from it.

Another solution could be to do something similar to what the United Kingdom did. An embryo is the early form of a human. We could make a law that an embryo can only be grown for a two week period and then must be disposed. In this case it is known that until the embryo has reached the fetus state (two weeks of growth) it is not considered a human. This would ensure that it could not be grown into a human, and because it has that two week period to grow they can still extract the cells they need to grow an organ for organ transplants or even an arm for someone.

In conclusion, therapeutic cloning should be legalized due to the medical advances in curing serious diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Therapeutic cloning does not involve bringing embryos to term, or the expected time for birth of a child. Reproductive cloning is unethical and morally wrong because we are making humans in a laboratory where they are not meant to be born. Reproductive cloning of humans should not be legalized in the United States. A possible solution for this is to enact laws against reproductive cloning of humans. Therapeutic cloning of humans will not be banned, but funded, which will also help minimize the want to practice reproductive cloning research of humans.