What is human cloning?
Although there have been no confirmed cases of cloned human beings,
cloning in theory allows scientists to create a genetic copy of another
human individual. The clone would not be an exact physical copy and
he/she would have his/her own individual personality and unique
fingerprints and toeprints in spite of sharing DNA with the person from
whom he/she was cloned.
What is the difference between so-called therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning?
Both types of cloning are reproductive as they both reproduce human
individuals. The only difference is in the way the cloned individual
would be treated. In so-called therapeutic cloning scientists would aim
to create a cloned embryo who is then used in research and destroyed.
In reproductive cloning the embryo
would be placed into a woman's womb and allowed to continue development and be born.
Is human cloning legal?
It is illegal in Britain for a cloned human embryo to be transferred to
a woman's womb. However, the British government and the English courts
have approved the creation of cloned human embryos and their use in
destructive stem cell research. Anyone who wishes to carry out human
cloning must apply
to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for a
licence. However, opponents of cloning argue that the HFEA was never
given authority to regulate human cloning. Such research may soon be
banned or restricted by the European Union.
Can the goals of human cloning be achieved?
Recent research suggests that creating cloned embryos who can continue
developing or who can provide functional stem cells may not be
possible. It may therefore prove to be impossible for scientists to
create and use cloned embryos in the way that they wish.
Human cloning: ethical or not?
Human cloning violates the dignity and respect due to every human
individual as it undermines the rights, identity and welfare of any
child created in this way.
Human cloning for so-called therapeutic purposes is completely
unethical. Such research creates life with the purpose of destroying it
and therefore fails to respect the right to life of the human embryo.
The human embryo in such circumstances is treated as resource material,
rather than as a human individual with inherent dignity and fundamental
Many people opposed to cloning consider therapeutic cloning to be even
more objectionable than reproductive cloning. Reproductive cloning at
least envisages allowing the embryos to live, whereas therapeutic
cloning means creating embryos in order to destroy them and use their
SPUC believes that resources should be directed towards adult stem cell
research and research using placental and umbilical cord stem cells.
These alternatives not only avoid the ethical problems inherent in
using human embryos but have also been more successful to date.
Most scientists argue against reproductive human cloning on the grounds
that it is not safe. If made safe, some scientists believe it would be
acceptable to use such techniques to help infertile couples. However,
even if it was made safe, reproductive cloning could never be
Human reproductive cloning blurs and complicates human relationships
and the parentage of the child created who might have one legal parent,
(the person from whom he/she was cloned) who could also be his/her
biological brother or sister since they share genetic parents. The
clone may also have a surrogate
All human cloning is not only dangerous in terms of human health and welfare, it is also entirely unethical.
Other SPUC webpages
There is a page about cloning in our ethical issues section