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Human Reproductive Cloning

Essay by   •  September 13, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  2,101 Words (9 Pages)  •  149 Views

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ATS1263
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Tida Phommasone
ID: 28894731

Word Count: 1950 Words

Assuming that techniques for human reproductive cloning eventually become safe and effective, should human reproductive cloning be considered an ethically acceptable way for infertile, homosexual, and/or lesbian couples to reproduce? Why or why not?

Cloning is not another form/method of assisted reproductive technology. The ethics of cloning humans and particularly reproductive cloning has been the centre of much debate in recent years. Would the processes of cloning be just as physically and emotionally tolling as other successful methods of reproductions such as IVF, surrogate pregnancy and adoption? We can only speculate as this technology hasn’t been developed yet. However using the information available currently, I will focus on the right of infertile, homosexual, and/or lesbian couples to have biologically related children. The three arguments I will discuss are the moral reproductive rights and the right to an open future, ethical issues involving society and identity as well as the most convincing, slippery slope argument and commodification. By examining these ethical arguments for and against the use of reproductive human cloning, I could come to the conclusion that no one, not even infertile, homosexual or infertile couples should be able to reproduce.

First I will dispute some claims against arguments human cloning as it is a violation of an individual’s reproductive rights and their right to an open future. One issue regarding human cloning that is widely debated is the fact that cloning violates the right to autonomy. Cloning does not abuse or violate any rights to reproduction. Not one individual can choose their genetic inheritance, un-cloned children are not able to choose characteristics for themselves. Half of our genes are from our mother, half are from the father and even then our genes are determined randomly, we have no power over selection and thus any combination of our parents genes will be expressed. Cloning is just the copy of outward appearance. Thus, the outcome of an individual’s personality is depended on its genes interacting with its environment. This means that building one’s own personality involves real life experiences, growing and gaining knowledge as time goes on. Michael J. Sandel shares this view as he states that “The alternative to a cloned or genetically enhanced child is not an autonomous one, but a child at the mercy of the genetic lottery” (Sandel, 2005)[1] Thus not only is there uncertainty to a clone’s future but also regarding an un-cloned individual.

Dena S. Davis has claimed that reproductive cloning violates the cloned child’s right to an open future. This is significantly unethical in cases when the child is brought to life with an intention of creating someone to resembles a pre-existing person as much as possible. The cloned person would be condemned to live “a life in the shadow” of the pre‐existing twin (Davis, 2001)
[2]. Even so I believe that the claim that an open future is a reason to permit reproductive cloning is unjustifiable. This is because genetics wont determine someone’s future. It is up to the environment and the people surrounding them that shape’s an individuals future. Mameli published in 2007, “there is no evidence that cloning and genetic engineering would inevitably or even in general rob the child of the possibility to choose from a sufficiently large array of life plans” (Mameli 2007)[3].

The fact that two individuals who have the same genome cannot imply that they are destined to live the same or similar lives. Even if we are genetically identical to someone else, there is much more to identity than genome. Individuality is shaped through experience. Dan W. Brock brings to light the example of identical twins. Even though genetically identical, there are no issues regarding identity as each twin has the opportunity to grow up independently and the ability to shape their own future. (Brock, 1998)[4] This can also be applied to a clone because though they may be genetically identical to someone previously, the chance to make their own decisions and have their own beliefs and morals is very much available. Therefore this claim of violating a right to an open future is not a valid one.

Building on these issues surrounding individuality, the social harms that clones are likely to face are important as to why reproductive cloning should not be ethically acceptable. In society, inequality is already a prominent issue as racism, sexism and ableism already allowing reproductive cloning would further create a social divide. Doing this may create psychological harm such as depression amongst the clones as they may be subjected to bullying or treated as second class to naturally conceived children. The introducing of cloning practices regardless of the safety, would create a disjunction of those cloned individuals in society. This can have a major impact on their mental welfare and well-being. A clone may suffer from a diminished sense of individuality and identity that every human would normally have. They may be considered outcasts by society. Society is a construct so the question is where will these clones fit into our society? We are already very prejudice and not particularly welcoming to change, so the majority reaction to this integration of clones I can’t imagine will be very positive.


Leon R. Kass brings up this idea of repugnance surrounding human cloning as a reproductive method in 1997. Our first instinct is important as it is representative of our intuition. Repugnance is morally significant especially in the case of human reproductive cloning as it is an advanced form of technology not yet available to us. These early responses are a part of human nature and  should not be discarded. However these emotional reactions must be within reason and backed up with evidence. Allowing cloning as a method of reproduction can open doors to more severe ethical issues. Kass brings up the slippery slope argument, that our intuitive repugnance regarding cloning is grounded in good reason.
[5] If we think one type of cloning is ethical and allow that one form, then it would make it more difficult to control and prohibit unethical cloning. Kass argues that no forms of cloning should be accepted even therapeutic cloning for research processes as there is a large concern that acceptance would lead to allowing the far more problematic reproductive cloning. In doing so, going by a basis of case by case is too much of a risk. So even infertile or same sex couples who have exhausted all other methods of assisted reproduction should not be allowed to use cloning technology to reproduce.

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