Cloning is no longer a science fiction concept ala the 2nd Star wars prequel. Despite what society at large may have thought, “Cloning has been going on for Decades.” Dolly the sheep brought cloning to the mainstream world. She was born, “on 5 July 1996.”(cloning) In and has now already left it, “she was euthanized on 14 February 2003, aged six and a half” middle aged for a sheep, because she, “suffered from arthritis in a hind leg joint and from sheep pulmonary adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumor.” (cloning) Dolly was a rare success as the process was called “inefficient” (Beckwith Pg. 207) by author Francis J. Beckwith when explaining the process that lead to her birth. “Out of 277 cell fusions 29 began grown in vitro. “ (Beckwith Pg. 207) all of the ones that grew where then, “Implanted in receptive ewes.” (Beckwith Pg. 207) Out of those only, “13 became pregnant, and only one lamb was born as a result.”(Beckwith Pg. 207) Beckwith noted that this was, “a success rate of only 3.4%. In nature, somewhere between 22 and 50% of all fertilized eggs develop fully into newborns.” (Beckwith Pg. 207)
All clones may thought to be the same, but all cloning techniques are not (and the clones aren’t either but we will get to that next.) One form of cloning is embryo Cloning. “Hall and Stillman employed this type of cloning in their 1993 ground breaking experiment, in which they cloned a human embryo.” (Beckwith Pg. 207) This process occurred, “in a laboratory, they produced human embryos in a petri dish by taking ova and fertilizing them with male sperm.” (Beckwith Pg. 206) Dolly was produced by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) cloning. In this process a scientist begins by, “extracting the nucleus of a cell from the human body, fusing that cell with an ovum that has had it’s nucleus remove, and then electrically stimulating this fused entity.” (Beckwith Pg. 207.) This is very different from Embryo Cloning, which simply recreates a natural process in a lab, here one set of genetic patterns are used rather than two. Despite what movies have told us, the clone will not age quickly and match the donor of their DNA. They will always be younger, but have the same DNA.
Although various problems arise from cloning, I will address two of the most damaging ones. “Cloning – whether embryonic or SCNT – could serve as a nearly unlimited resource for embryonic stem cells” (Beckwith Pg. 211.) Bodies could be created to be harvested for parts or destroyed after experimentation, similar to the plot of the Michael Bay film, “The Island” Imagine the same issues had with Dolly, many would die as the process was used, not just the “Successful” ones which manage to be implanted. This practice could even further cheapen the view of the zygote and early embryo.
The other concern that immediately sprang to mind had a personal connection. Two friends of mines (Pastor’s kids of course) got charged with a crime during a rebellious drug phase. It was clear only one of them did the crime but neither would rat out who it was. Because of the high level of reasonable doubt, neither of them paid the price and went to jail. DNA is a marker in our criminal justice system, SCNT cloning could take that away and cause massive changes and more doubt in in criminal trails. The DNA could point to 2 or 3 individuals at once! (for my friends it was just a visual issue.) While the first is a clear cut moral issue, the second is a practical issue that should be a concern, even our atheists friends share and may serve as a persuasive way of swaying them to our side, even if only enough to stop the death of the cloned babies.
Beckwith, Francis J. Defending Life a Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice Cambridge University Press New York, NY 2007
Cloning Dolly the Sheep, Animal Research.info http://www.animalresearch.info/en/medical-advances/timeline/cloning-dolly-the-sheep/ (Accessed 9/25/15)