Cloning allows scientists to create a genetic copy of another human individual. The clone is not an exact copy, in spite of sharing DNA with the person from whom he/she was cloned.
There are two types of cloning: 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 is treated. In so-called therapeutic cloning, scientists to create a cloned embryo who is then used in research and destroyed. In reproductive cloning, the embryo is to be placed into a woman’s womb and allowed to continue development and be born.
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
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.
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 human rights.
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 cells.
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 considered ethical.
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 mother. All human cloning is not only dangerous in terms of human health and welfare, it is also entirely unethical.