Philosophical Essay

The following is an essay I wrote for Medical Ethics concerning human reproduction, specifically human cloning.

Presbyterian College                                                                                    Brittany Kirkland

Phil 315: Medical Ethics                                                                                19 October 2012

                                               Essay Two: Human Reproduction

Among the issues we have studied in the birth and reproduction section of this course, I find the controversy of human cloning for reproduction to be of the most interest to me.  In support of reproductive cloning, many argue that this is a way for infertile and homosexual couples to have children with whom they are genetically tied to, children that are healthy and free of disease, as well as a way to advance knowledge about human development.[1]  Those who oppose cloning as a means of reproduction believe that the process would be defying God’s will,[2] withholding the right to a unique genetic identity from the clone,[3] as well as in the case of parents who don’t have the child’s best interests at heart, leave the clone feeling inferior to natural born humans.[4]  Overall, I think society could benefit from reproductive cloning, however, I don’t think our society would ever be open to accepting the process or the products of cloning.

Many reasons exist that validate the use of cloning for scientific advances and in order to increase the overall quality of life for all involved.  First, there are scarce options for infertile couples to have children.  Besides in vitro fertilization, surrogacy motherhood, and adoption, there aren’t many possibilities for these couples to conceive.  Cloning is a way that infertile couples, single people who wish to be parents, as well as homosexual couples who want to be parents, can get what they’re looking for: their own blood, their very own child.[5]  Many infertile couples desire to not only be parents, but want to be parents to children with a genetic connection to themselves.  With cloning, these parents can finally achieve their desire to produce a child genetically related to themselves.  This wish is often underestimated and somewhat overlooked in society today because there are extremely limited options with highly difficult processes for infertile adults to obtain or create a child with genetic similarities.  It has been proven that this urge is so strong, that even people with little income, such as struggling college professors, are willing to make sacrifices including forsaking cars and houses in an effort to have a baby genetically related to themselves.[6]

In addition to helping couples who are unable to conceive, reproductive cloning would allow for healthy children to be born.  Babies could be born who would be guaranteed a long, happy and healthy life because most likely, an adult with a congenital disease or disability would not be cloned.[7]  This selectivity of who would be cloned could possibly even eliminate genetic diseases and life-threatening disabilities acquired at or before birth, in which case, cloning would undoubtedly benefit our society as a whole.  In addition to happy and healthy babies, can you imagine what society would be like if we were able to clone influential individuals, such as Albert Einstein or Martin Luther King?[8]  We could tremendously benefit as a human race from the ability to clone human beings who have been influential and innovative in the past.

Lastly, cloning would allow for advances in psychology and human development, findings from which would reveal how much development is genetically predisposed and how much is due to the environment.  This would make raising a child much easier because parents would be able to understand the child’s needs and natural abilities at an earlier period and be capable of promoting the child’s potentials to full capacity.[9]  Cloning could benefit society in various ways.

There are, as can be expected, numerous arguments against the reproductive cloning of humans. There is the religious argument that by using reproductive assistance, humans are interfering with God’s will and plan.  The people who agree with this statement believe that God’s plan for humanity consists of a woman bearing children, as shown in Genesis when Eve conceives.  However, the Bible never explicitly says, “Thou shalt not clone humans.”  Further, when people argue that God’s plan for us to populate consists solely of a woman bearing a child, they are speculating about what God’s plan entails.[10]  I believe God wants His people to be happy, and is not primarily concerned with how a child comes in to existence, instead He is more concerned about how they are raised and the person they become.  The lack of explicit evidence in scripture about cloning, as well as the inference made about God’s will are two reasons why this argument can easily be refuted.

One of the biggest concerns with cloned humans is their deprivation of the right to have a unique genetic identity.  Some argue that by not being genetically unique, one can’t be their own person and therefore is wrongfully deprived of a right everyone in the world has.  This is not necessarily true because what about the case of identical twins?[11]  I can’t speak for twins because I am not one, however I highly doubt they feel violated of a right to be unique.  In addition, genetics do not discern one’s entire identity.  Personality traits are, to some degree, predisposed in the genetic makeup of an individual.  However, a person’s personality is majorly derived from their environment.  There have been a number of studies done on environmental learning in the field of psychology, most of which reflect some significance on the individual by the environment, proving an identity isn’t strictly due to genetics.[12]

Another reason reproductive cloning is opposed is the assumption that parents who would use this process to have a child don’t have the child’s best interests at heart.  There are many ways parents can take the cloning process for advantage including having unrealistic expectations for the child, choosing superior genes and pushing the child to take advantage of their genetic strength.   Some believe the parents of a cloned child would have extremely high expectations for the child in areas such as athleticism, talents, and intellectual capacity due to the fact that the parents would be aware of the possibility of such abilities before the child was cloned.  There is also the assumption that such parents would push these children to extremes because the parents would know what the kids were capable of and want them to take advantage of their strengths.[13]

There are those that believe being a clone is somehow less than being a

person.  The fear exists that the child could possibly be harmed in knowing they were a clone and not a natural born child.  Many worry that children who are clones will be discriminated against as the minority and will be victims of prejudice, as well as feel unwanted by their parents.[14]  This is actually a realistic concern, especially after viewing the film Gattica, and understanding the prejudices that existed in that society due to genetics.  However, in my opinion, children would hardly feel like they are not wanted by their parents simply because they are a clone.  If anything, they would feel the complete opposite way, knowing they are in existence solely because their parents wanted to create them and raise them because their parents had them made.  In fact, clones would feel more wanted than the normal child, created by sexual intercourse, because there is no evidence that these children were actually planned.  Rather, their parents had sex and upon discovering the pregnancy, decided not to abort.[15]  I would hardly say this child was planned.  However, in the case of an infertile couple that wanted a beautiful little girl and had a clone produced to fulfill their wish to have a baby girl, this child would most definitely be planned and wanted by the parents.

Both of these scenarios involving the parents’ high expectations and cloned child’s promoted use of his/her genetic strengths, as well as the child’s feelings of unrest about being a clone, can be disputed by considering the impact of the role supportive parents play in children’s lives.[16]  Parents won’t have unrealistically high expectations for children who they love no matter their achievements.  Parents won’t push children past their limits if they truly care for the child.  Parents won’t push their own wishes and wants onto their child, thereby forcing the child into a life they don’t actually want if the parents understand their child.  Similarly, if parents are supportive and encouraging toward their child, the child will be less likely to feel inferior to natural born children because they will probably be happier knowing they are loved.

As I have demonstrated in the above essay, there are contradictory opinions about the benefits and drawbacks of human reproduction by cloning.  In my opinion, there are only benefits to be created from allowing human reproduction by cloning.  Advantages such as allowing infertile and homosexual couples to not only have children, but children they are genetically connected to, producing happy and healthy children free of congenital diseases, and the advancement of scientific studies are all tremendous pros that should be heavily considered when discussing this means of reproduction.  The oppressors of reproductive cloning argue that producing children this way is not God’s will, doing so could deprive the clone of a genetically unique identity, and could leave the clone susceptible to bad parenting.  All of these arguments I have refuted, and further believe they are not applicable to such a topic where sole, clear advantages are present.  However, my decision and opinions on this topic have come after a very close study of cloning and philosophical essays on the issue.

Cloning is a very controversial matter because many people are extremely opposed to the possibility of reproducing another human that already exists.  It is difficult for people to open up to the possibility of cloning simply because it is such a foreign idea with regard to reproduction.  Most people are wary of the very process of cloning anything, especially a human.  I think it would be very difficult for society to accept the cloning process as a norm, and it would be nearly impossible for them to accept clones living among us.  Even with as many advantages as I have described in this essay, society’s normal way of life trumps this possible innovative and beneficial way of reproducing.

Works Cited

Pence, Gregory, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” in Medical Ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases, 6th. ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2011), 131-138.

Michael Tooley, “The Moral Status of Cloning Humans,” in Bioethics: An Anthology, 2nd. ed., ed. Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 162-177.

[1] Gregory Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” in Medical Ethics: Accounts of Ground-Breaking Cases, 6th. ed. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2011), 130-137.

[2] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 130.

[3] Michael Tooley, “The Moral Status of Cloning Humans,” in Bioethics: An Anthology, 2nd. ed., ed. Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 170.

[4] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 132.

[5] Tooley, “The Moral Status of the Cloning of Humans,” 172.

[6] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 136.

[7] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 134.

[8] Tooley, “The Moral Status of the Cloning of Humans,” 171.

[9] Tooley, “The Moral Status of the Cloning of Humans,” 170.

[10] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 130-131.

[11] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 131.

[12] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 131.

[13] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 132.

[14] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 130.

[15] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 134.

[16] Pence, “Embryos, Stem Cells, and Cloning,” 132.


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