Cloning has been a subject of fascination for scientists and researchers for decades, starting with the fruition of the term in 1938 when Hans Spemann proposed an experiment involving the replacement of one nucleus with another. Since then, the term cloning has come to represent making an exact replica of an organism by using a cell from one organism and implanting into another with the purpose of growth and birth of a replicate or clone. The long history of cloning has been one of many failures, and few successes.
Dolly the Sheep was the first “success” in the research, but to date there has been no successful human cloning. Since the concept of cloning was introduced, a long-standing argument among the philosophical community has been the morality of cloning, specifically cloning humans.
The endeavor to clone humans has proven to be a financial issue with a low success rate and high time consumption that can only be deemed a morally impermissible science.
Arguments made for the acceptability of human cloning involves the new access to organs if the donor needs an organ transplant. This idea stems from the ever-growing list of people in need of a heart transplant or a new kidney, but the complete lack of organ availability. By creating a clone of oneself, if an accident was to occur, or a person is in immediate need for an organ, a clone can be extremely helpful. However, if the science is taken out of the equation, the clone is a person.
A human being developed in the womb, grew up with emotions and hopes and dreams. They feel pain and happiness, just like their donor.
What makes it morally permissible to remove a healthy organ from them for someone else? If one were to volunteer to give a kidney, it could be acceptable, because it occurs all the time, but not giving someone an option is where the fault lies. According to Immanuel Kant, humanity should focus on a central moral principle in which you “act so that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end, never as a means only” (Kant). The concept presented by Kant is that a person should not use another as an instrument or machine in a manner to achieve one’s own, selfish goals. By creating a clone of oneself for the purpose of organ donation, not only is the clone’s moral rights being impeded, the donor is now acting on their own selfish goals at the expense of another. To work around the organ donation argument, there is no need for a clone for an organ with the same DNA as the recipient because there has already been successful growing of organs in research labs.
The organs can be grown by using cells and DNA of the person in need of the organ, and by using a special 3D printer and other technology, an organ can be specially made, without risking the life of another. Organ donation is not the only reason that a person may wish to make a clone. There has been debate over the possibility of cloning people with genius IQs, such as Stephen Hawking, for recreating the person behind scientific discoveries that cultivated change in the science community, or cloning someone who died, such as a child or a parent. Cloning someone because of their accomplishments, or to get back a loved one seems to be permissible, however the clone could suffer from any medical ailments that were present in the donor. For example, Stephen Hawking may have been a genius, but cloning his DNA would mean cloning the DNA containing the markers for Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The same could be said of cloning a teenager who has the markers for kidney disease, or of a mom who will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in twenty years. When a clone is made with DNA the markers present at the time of collection will carry over to the clone, resulting in the clone having the same medical issues as the donor. Not only are the ailments going to be copied, the age of the cell is also identical to the donor, meaning a seventy-year-old being cloned would result in a baby with cells that are seventy-years-old. Subjecting a clone to medical issues with no cure, such as ALS, or to shortened lifespan because of older DNA being implanted into an egg, is a morally impermissible act. The effect was seen when Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996 and as a newborn had genetic markers of a six-year-old sheep.
On average, a sheep has a twelve-year lifespan, and by cloning a six-year-old sheep, Dolly was born with cells of a six-year-old and a life that was cut in half. In theory, this will occur to any human clones because there has been no known technique to regenerate telomeres of an adult cell to “revert” the cell back to a new (baby) cell, and thus eliminate the shortened lifespan. One may argue the genetic markers, carrying diseases and medical ailments, can be removed or turned off in a cell. This act of genetic modification is possible, and is known as “designer babies,” but it is not a method of cloning. By manipulating the genetics of the donor, the reproduction is no longer a genetic identical of the donor, and thus is not considered a “clone”. This idea is brought up in the novel Never Let Me Go in which the children are all incapable of conceiving or reproducing children.
The reason behind the incapability to reproduce is never specifically mentioned, but it is likely the society developing clones and removing the reproductive faculties. This process by the scientists becomes a violation of the Natural Law Theory, which states the items that ought to be naturally good are human life, human procreation, human knowledge, and human sociability. Any act of creating a clone, with the ability to think and feel emotion, is the act of creating a person and a life. Removing the ability to procreate on a large scale and keeping knowledge from them, like in Never Let Me Go, violates natural law theory and thus the act of cloning becomes a universal evil, and cannot be morally accepted.