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The pros and cons of human reproductive cloning

The idea of human reproductive cloning produces a strong response from many people. Producing new genetically identical human beings is a very different proposition to therapeutic cloning.

Arguments for …
Some people argue that cloning is the logical next step in reproductive technology. Identical twins are natural clones, so reproductive cloning can be regarded as a technological version of a natural process. If a couple are infertile, why shouldn’t they be able to produce clones of themselves? If a couple have lost a child, why shouldn’t they be able to replace that loved individual with a clone if that is possible? Equally if someone has made a great contribution to science, music, the arts or literature, it seems like a good idea to produce more of them in the hope that we might benefit even more from what would effectively be a much longer working life. What is more, cloning a child could produce a tissue match for treatment of a life-threatening disease.

… and against
Others feel equally strongly that human cloning is completely wrong. With the state of the science as it is at the moment it would involve hundreds of damaged pregnancies to achieve one single live cloned baby. What is more, all the evidence suggests that clones are unhealthy and often have a number of built-in genetic defects which lead to premature ageing and death. It would be completely wrong to bring a child into the world knowing that it was extremely likely to be affected by problems like these. The dignity of human life and the genetic uniqueness we all have would be attacked if cloning became common place. People might be cloned unwillingly – we all leave thousands if not millions of cells around everyday as we go about our normal lives shedding skin! Who will control who gets cloned? Companies are already making money storing tissue from dead children and partners until the time that human cloning becomes available. How much scope will there be for unscrupulous dealings if human cloning becomes a reality?

einsteinWhatever your view, all the evidence is that a clone would not be identical to the original because it would have a different womb environment and would be brought up differently. For example, it would be very galling to clone Einstein and find that the new version didn’t like maths!

 

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