Skip to comments.Human Cloning
Posted on 04/24/2003 3:40:42 PM PDT by MHGinTN
Cloning, defined according to STEADMANS MEDICAL DICTIONARY, 24th edition, page 289, is: The transplantation of a nucleus from a somatic cell to an ovum, which then develops into an embryo; many identical embryos could thus be reproduced by asexual reproduction.
Higher mammal cloning attempts have been costly and difficult, however, human cloning does represent a challenge that has never been faced before by society, and this challenge needs truthful airing, before the science is applied broadly for any and all medical marvels which may be implied from the techniques. The term cloning may also be used to identify the process whereby only molecules are reproduced, such as DNA, as when criminologists replicate the DNA of a victim or a criminal, for molecular matching purposes; or used to describe research biologists reproducing a nearly limitless supply of a specially engineered micro-organism.
Michael Shermer, writing in his column, Skeptic, in the April 2003 edition of Scientific American magazine, offers Three Laws of Cloning: 1. A human clone is a human being no less unique in his or her personhood than an identical twin; 2. A human clone has all the rights and privileges that accompany this legal and moral status; 3. A human clone is to be accorded the dignity and respect due any member of our species.
Hold on now! Isnt the cart before the horse? Mister Shermers three laws dont address the when in a clones assumption of rights. When is the clone to be considered an individual human so that the laws can be applied from that day forward? The answer to that question may be both a scientific as well as a moral question, but our modern society is not ready to address those questions until the full truth about human cloning is revealed.
Is human life a commodity to be experimented with?
Some uses of cloning are actually cannibalism dressed up to seem like enlightened medical advances. Isnt conceiving designer individual humans, then killing those individuals to get their body parts for medical treatments, in actuality cannibalism?
Its not a stretch to say that the acceptance of in vitro fertilization has propelled us down the slippery slope of dehumanizing the earliest age in the continuum of individual human beings, manipulating the amazing processes of conception and life support in order to assist in pregnancy. This earlier medical marvel often creates extra individual embryonic human lives to be discarded, or worse, used for experimentation. Should we deconstruct such a beautiful gift by taking full technological advantage of it? Scientists involved with cloning share different viewpoints about this god-like ability weve developed. Many find it highly unethical, while others find moralizing the sanctity of individual human life to be only amusing.
Robert Gilmore McKinnell, a professor of genetics and cell biology, wrote that, Scientists use the cloning procedure to gain insight into biological phenomena such as differentiation, cancer, immunobiology, and aging. [So far, so good, but the genie is not so benign when the issue of human therapeutic cloning arises.]
The life level of that which is cloned is important to understand: a whole organism may be cloned, or only the DNA found in a part of the organism may be cloned.
With DNA cloning, the tissues need not be alive in order to harvest and replicate, or clone, the DNA of the tissue. Such molecular level cloning (called PCR) does not clone an individual (the whole organism), merely the molecular identification of the individual organism. Put another way, the term cloning can be used to describe replicating the DNA of alive or dead tissue being tested, as with techniques used in criminology.
When criminologists do DNA replication, they are reproducing a nearly unlimited supply of the exact DNA within the tissue found at the crime scene, in order to match that DNA to the DNA of a criminal or a victim, or exonerate an accused. When Laci Petersons body and the body of baby Connor (found in the same waters) were tested with DNA marker technology, the goal was to discover a close DNA identification between Laci Petersons body, the body of the baby, and Scott Petersons DNA, to connect them through DNA matches, for criminal inferences.
Cloning of bacteria and fungi is used to identify characteristics of the microorganism, to amplify good characteristics or eliminate bad characteristics produced by the DNA commands on the organisms growth and development. DNA replication and testing can identify what about a microorganism gives that particular organism the disease causing power it has in humans, in order to devise treatments for the diseases.
In modern Embryology textbooks, you will discover that the first principle of the Science of Embryology is that every individual life is a continuum of unbroken processes whereby an individual alive organism is expressing its life, and that continuum has a beginning, a starting point that is that individuals conception.
Manipulations such as in vitro fertilization, somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning), embryonic stem cell research, amniocentesis, and tests for genetic anomalies like Downs Syndrome, all are based upon this first principle of Embryology. For these processes to have meaning, first the scientists and technicians must hold that the processes are dealing with an already alive individuals characteristics, else the tests would be too non-specific to form medical assumptions regarding the alive individual organism tested.
Human whole organism cloning is accomplished by somatic cell nuclear transfer, taking a living cell from a donor human, removing the nuclear material--the DNA/genes--and inserting that nuclear material into an enucleated (nuclear material removed) female gamete, or sex cell, ovum, then zapping that combination with an electrical charge that stimulates cellular replication, expressing an individual human organism. The female ovum from which the 23 chromosome nuclear material has been removed, receives the 46 chromosome nuclear material for a complete human organism, thus the newly conceived individual life has the theoretical ability to then go through the entire series of cellular divisions (mitosis) which give rise to the amniotic sac and the growing individual human body, complete with all the normal organs and tissues.
Reproductive cloning conceives via somatic cell nuclear transfer and sustains that individual being all the way to 40 week developmental age and birth.
So called therapeutic cloning utilizes in vitro conception and growth of an individual human being, but the new individual will not be allowed to live and grow to the full 40 weeks and be born. Instead, the newly conceived individuals will be killed and their body parts--from cells to organs--will be harvested for use in treating diseases of or injuries to older individual humans (older than embryos). In truth, both types of cloning are reproductive, but the end use of the newly conceived individual human determines which name to give the process.
Will individual human life continue to have sanctity or be reduced to mere utility?
Perhaps some believe it isnt so wrong to conceive embryos and kill them for their body parts, their stem cells, but the processes will not stop there, with that level of cannibalism. There is ongoing effort--well underway--to build an artificial womb, and then conceive and gestate an individual alive human being all the way to the full 40 weeks of development and birth. This marvel will also allow the scientists to stop at any age along the continuum of the lifetime begun at conception and harvest the individuals body parts and it will be the owner of the conceived individual and the life supporting machinery that will determine when to kill and harvest, or support for birth!
Why is human cloning bad? There are many reasons cited by opponents, but it is wrong primarily because the manipulation of individual humans in their earliest age as individual embryonic beings is dehumanizing dehumanizing for the individuals so conceived for their utility and dehumanizing for the society, which embraces such cannibalism.
The moral line in the sand ought to be determined by whether an individual human being is maimed, killed, or discarded in the process of manipulating that individual human lifetime begun at conception. Answer to that question is what our society is not being given in the current debates. And when some portion of the truth regarding these manipulative processes arises, the deeper truth--that even the embryo is an individual human being at its earliest age along its unique continuum of life--is obfuscated, dismissed, ignored, or denied.
Science may one day be able to reproduce a part of the whole organism, as in growing only a kidney that is a perfect tissue match for the individual from whom the genetic nuclear material is taken; that would be an embraceable medical miracle. But as its now undertaken, with therapeutic cloning, an alive individual being very closely matched genetically to the donor of the nuclear material is given life support until the organs of that individual (embryonic stem cells are the organs of the embryo) differentiate sufficiently to be harvested for use with an older individual being treated for a disease or injury. That is, in all truth, cannibalism as surely as if the medical personnel instructed the person being treated to eat the parts taken from the clone in order to treat the disease or injury.
[ To cannibalize, according to NEW WEBSTERS DICTIONARY, is : to repair (vehicles or aircraft) by using parts from other vehicles, instead of using spare parts.]
Are humans now to be reduced to the utility of aircraft or vehicles, to be cannibalized for their living parts?
I don't understand why this is even needed, but why would anything after it be necessary ?
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Thanks for this. It will be an important reference.
My perspective on all of this is real simple: One man and one woman get married, THEN they cooperate with Gods design for procreationperiod, end of story. If you cant conceive naturally and you really believe you should have children, ADOPT. Everything else is tantamount to building a new tower of Babel. Eventually (I hope soon) Gods Mercy will be tested one too many times and His Justice will be upon us.
I always thought this was funny - like a peanut sized lung would help someone who smoked too much...
You seem to know what you are talking about, but are endocrine chemicals presently rejected because of DNA differences ?
You say "It would be possible to treat ... " you don't say anything about if this type of treatment would have any possibility of success.
- again, is brain tissue presently rejected because of DNA problems and have experiments shown that the procedure you are expecting to be performed would be successfull if the DNA matched ?
Could you name some of the "many" ?
Tissue rejection usually is caused by the body's imune system attacking the foreign tissue because of the 'proteins' mismatch. With a clone, the idea is to duplicate the proteins of your body, in the clone, thus the tissues of the clone will not be recognized as foreign when implanted. Some bone transpalnts are now accomplished without the anti-rejection drugs so heavily used with typical ransplant therapy. The technique involves freezing the bone to a very low temp before thawing and transplanting. Again, hocndoc can give you much better information here.
Adult or fetus, my point was that they were both dead for reasons other then to harvest the needed parts, therefore there is no tie in either case to any objection to cloning.
( which appears to be the focus of this thread )
Bears repeating, and needs repeating.
You'd think the difference between an egg and an embryo would be clear as a bell. But, pro-choicers love to confuse the distinction, especially those scientists who have an interest in creating a human life for the purpose of destroying it. They will be the first to jump on pro-lifers who don't have tiny facts close at hand, but they, themselves, have constructed an entirely unrealistic overview of conception.
As I wrote in another thread, even intelligent, renowned scientific writers are guilty of espousing this unbelievably shoddy thinking when it serves their purposes.
I really get mad when people who want to mold opinions say that apples are oranges. They try to win an argument, that they are afraid they will lose, by changing definitions.
Like when an unfertilized egg is suddenly defined as an "embryo"?
Sorry, couldn't resist ;)
Now, for me, an embryo is something that at least has the potential to become a fully-fledged human being - by that standard, clones, for example, would fit the definition of "embryo", since it's entirely possible that we could develop a fully-fledged human being from a clone. But if the chances of human parthenotes developing into actual human beings are so remote as to be essentially non-existent - or just plain non-existent, period - then there's not even the theoretical potential for new life. So what purpose does it serve to call something that has basically a zero chance of ever becoming human an "embryo"?
And the second problem - with my own rendering of "potentiality", no less ;) - is that if cloning advances to the point where we can create clones from any given adult cell, then clearly any given adult cell has the "potential" to become a new life, in the same sort of theoretical way that a parthenote might be considered a new life. But does that mean that my liver cells have to be held as sacred, and rendered off-limits to medical investigation?
This deserves a bit more elaboration, so bear with me. Yes, I might have to reconsider if it turns out that human parthenotes could potentially become an actual new, independent life. Of course, as in my other post, the notion of theoretical possibility has its own problems - like I said, if it becomes theoretically possible to create new life by cloning my liver cells, my liver cells become off limits to investigation if this is our standard.
Now, on the other hand, what if the opposite turns out to be true, and it can be shown that for some reason no parthenote can ever be born as a human - perhaps because there is some universally unavoidable and fatal developmental flaw at some point in their division and differentiation, or something along those lines. Would that cause you to revise your opinion on the use of parthenotes in research? Clearly, this is still a hypothetical question at this point, but I'm curious to discover if there is some way where you might ever consider the use of human parthenotes to be acceptable...
Close to it. ;)
Let's suppose for a moment that we're not talking about constructs that are intentionally screwed up such that if they are allowed to develop, they become horrendously deformed monsters for us to experiment on. Suppose for a moment that it turns out that there is something wrong with parthenogenesis in humans, such that any parthenote that is implanted in an attempt to develop is so developmentally flawed that it is spontaneously aborted. IOW, there is no chance, zero chance, that a parthenote can ever be born, due to some inherent problem (not one that was intentionally introduced) within parthenotes. Does that still make them human embryos, if that turns out to be the case?