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The Ethics of Human Cloning

written by: MandaSpring•edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 3/18/2012

The possibility that there may one day be human clones raises some serious ethical issues that society must embrace, discuss and understand.

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    What are the Ethics of Human Cloning?

    There is a vast array of ethical questions when it comes to cloning humans. Reports and articles from The American Medical Association, The President's Council on Bioethics and many other respected sources have some of these issues in common as primary concerns.

    If we think on a purely spiritual sense, for example the belief in a soul, we must then wonder if a cloned human would possess a soul. Spirituality is a complex belief system. If a cloned person becomes a spiritual individual later on in life and believes in a creator then he or she will face a harsh reality of being man-made not God made. Questions of whether or not they have a soul, or if they will have eternal life, or if they would be embraced by God even though they are not His creation could weigh heavily on their psyche.

    There is concern amongst some that human clones might created so that their organs and tissues can be harvested. Being ‘made’ simply to act as a biological junkyard of spare parts would raise serious humanitarian issues. Surely a human clone would enjoy the same rights and privileges as all humans and not be treated merely as a ‘thing’ that is not entitled to its own life. What are the legal rights of a cloned human? Should they have rights? Are they considered their own person or the property of another?

    There are some people who think that human cloning is a great idea, believing the technology could be used to replace their deceased loved ones. The question of whether it is ‘healthy’ to replace someone that is now dead opens the door to deep religious and philosophical debates. Not to mention the impact on the clone of knowing they merely exist to fill a void, that there purpose alone is just to replace a dead person. This could lead to psychological problems as the cloned person struggles to create their own identity to prove they are not just a mirror image of someone else.

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    Human Cloning Safety

    And then there is the safety aspect. Cloning of higher animals is a technically complex and risky procedure and there are still a great many questions about how cloning affects life spans. According to the Human Genome Project, “Not only do most attempts to clone mammals fail, about 30% of clones born alive are affected with "large-offspring syndrome" and other debilitating conditions. Several cloned animals have died prematurely from infections and other complications. The same problems would be expected in human cloning. In addition, scientists do not know how cloning could impact mental development.”

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    Human Cloning and Society

    That cloning is technically tricky now, does not necessarily mean that it's an immovable obstacle. As we move ever closer to the day when human clones might walk the Earth the debates and discussions will get louder. The potential for physical, emotional and mental distress is huge, not only for cloned individuals but for society as well.