The Pros and Cons of Human Cloning

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The cloning of humans is now very close to reality, thanks to the historic scientific breakthrough of Dr. Ian Wilmut and his colleagues in the UK. This possibility is one of incredible potential benefit for all of us. Unfortunately the initial debate on this issue has been dominated by misleading, sensationalized accounts in the news media and negative emotional reactions derived from inaccurate science fiction. Much of the negativity about human cloning is based simply on the breathtaking novelty of the concept rather than on any real undesirable consequences. On balance, human cloning would have overwhelming advantages if regulated in a reasonable way. A comprehensive ban on human cloning by a misinformed public would be a sorry episode in human history. This essay will discuss both the advantages and the alleged negative consequences of human cloning.

What is a Human Clone?

A human clone is really just a time-delayed identical twin of another person. Science fiction novels and movies have given people the impression that human clones would be mindless zombies, Frankenstein monsters, or "doubles." This is all complete nonsense. Human clones would be human beings just like you and me, not zombies. They would be carried and delivered after nine months by a human mother and raised in a family just like everyone else. They would require 18 years to reach adulthood just like everyone else. Consequently, a clone-twin will be decades younger than the original person. There is no danger of people confusing a clone-twin with the original person. As with identical twins, the clone and DNA donor would have different fingerprints. A clone will not inherit any of the memories of the original person. Because of these differences, a clone is not a xerox copy or "double" of a person, just a much younger identical twin. Human clones would have the same legal rights and responsibilities as any other human being. Human clones will be human beings in every sense. You could not keep a clone as a slave. Human slavery was abolished in the United States in 1865.

It should be emphasized that all human cloning must be done on an individual voluntary basis. The living person who is to be cloned would have to give their consent, and the woman who gives birth to the clone-twin and raises the child must also be acting voluntarily. No other scenario is conceiv...

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...Ramses II reposes in excellent condition in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. This is the Pharaoh of the Old Testament. A technology for human cloning would allow a modern Egyptian woman to give birth to the twin of this great historical figure. Who would not want to see the living image of Ramses II and hear the same voice that spoke to Moses over three thousand years ago?

It is clear that human cloning has enormous potential benefits and few real negative consequences. As with many scientific advances of the past, such as airplanes and computers, the only real threat is to our own narrow mental complacency. In the areas of scientific advancement and cultural achievement, human clones can make major contributions. In specific cases where abuse of cloning is anticipated, these abuses can be prohibited by targeted legislation. With a little common sense and reasonable regulation, human cloning is not something to be feared. We should look forward to it with excited anticipation, and support research which will hasten its realization. Exceptional people are among the world's greatest treasures. Human cloning will allow us to preserve and eventually even recover these treasures.

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