The Ethical Issue Of Cloning
The purpose of this assignment was to choose a contemporary ethical issue and analyse it using an agreed ethical framework, the ethical framework being Groom’s model (APPENDIX A). Groom’s model is used when discussing ethical and moral concerns. It will be used throughout this research assignment when analysing the ethical issue of human cloning. The three main authorities on cloning are Legal authority, Medical authority and Religious authority. These authorities have different attitudes, values and beliefs in relation to the subject of human cloning and will be used to shed light on the subject. It is shown by extensive research that cloning is not suitable in today’s society as there are too many ethical and moral codes attached to it. Ian Wilmut, the scientist who stunned the scientific world by leading the effort that produced Dolly the lamb, said in an interview: “To try cloning on humans today would be criminally irresponsible. The problems are far too serious.” (Palmer, P 2001, ‘Dolly’s Doctors Hit Cloning of Humans’, London Daily Telegraph) This quote, from debatably the most experienced cloner in the world, highlights the disapproval that society has of human cloning.
The issue of cloning is one that is debated around the world and has been since the cloning of dolly the lamb. Human cloning is seen as: “The process of making a genetically identical copy of a living organism.” (Author Unknown 2007, ‘Definition of Cloning’ from http://www.medterms.com) It is seen by many as an ethical issue because it means creating a child in an unnatural and unorthodox way. To have a stance on human cloning one must understand the considerations that need to be made to ensure a conclusion is arrived at, these being, technological considerations, economical considerations, social considerations and a consideration of ulterior motives. There are both positive and negative aspects to human cloning, but according to a report entitled The Ethics of Human Cloning, produced by the American Medical Association, “the potential harms of human cloning appear to outweigh the potential benefits at this time.” (APPENDIX B)
Before the commencement of research and study, the researcher had no direct experience in regards to human cloning. The researcher had heard some general stories on the topic, but had not heard enough to form opinions on the subject.
After research and study was completed, three articles from three different authorities were found outlining their views on human cloning. The legal authority: “Nissen, D 1998, ’Federal Government Against Human Cloning’; Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Media Releases, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.healthconnect.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-archive-mediarel-1998-mw298.htm” (APPENDIX B), the medical authority: “American Medical Association 1999, ‘The Ethics of Human Cloning’; Report of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/369/report98.pdf” (APPENDIX B), and the religious authority: “Archbishop of Sydney 2007, ‘Cardinal Pell’s Response to Parliamentary Inquiry’; Zenit: The World Seen From Rome, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.zenit.org/article-20567?l=english” (APPENDIX B).
After the researcher had read the articles, a stance on the issue was attained. The researcher believed that human cloning was not a good idea as it was too dangerous for the time period. The three articles helped to mould the viewpoint as they all show a negative representation of human cloning.
Analysis of Authorities:
Throughout this investigation, the researcher considered all of the three authorities equally to avoid bias in each situation.
The legal authority, being the Federal Minister for Health and Family Services, Dr Michael Wooldridge, has always had the same view on human cloning. This authority states that human cloning should not be carried out because it is unethical. Wooldridge stated in a press conference on the January 14, 1998 that, “Any genetic manipulation which can be passed on to future generations is unethical,” (APPENDIX B). This illustrates an ethical concern for future generations, which thus proves their point about human cloning being unethical.
The medical authority is one of varying opinions and judgements when considering human cloning. Some doctors believe that human cloning should be legal while many disagree. This is why the researcher was forced to use the testimony from perhaps the most powerful medical body in the world, the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA believes that human cloning is not a good idea at this point in time because of two factors: the physical harms attached to it and psychosocial harms attached to it. They stated that “techniques used for cloning humans could potentially endanger the developing individuals” and that, “Human cloning may diminish, at least psychologically, the seemingly unlimited potential of new human beings and may exacerbate disturbing motivations for having children” (APPENDIX B). This shows that the AMA, and in turn, the entire medical body, is against human cloning because of the ethical issues, such as the physical and psychosocial harms, tied in with it.
The religious authority, being the church, has an extremely strong view on human cloning. Cardinal Pell put forward the Church’s views on human cloning at a press conference on June 5th, 2007. Their views came across powerfully through his speech and it was apparent that they believe cloning is an act of evil. He stated, “The Church’s teaching on cloning states that the cloning of a human being is wrong and cannot be justified by any known or imagined effects.” He went on to say, “The Church also teaches that destructive experimentation on embryonic human beings – cloned or otherwise – is an intrinsically evil act, because experimentation involves their dismemberment and therefore mutilation and death” (APPENDIX B). Hence, the Church is shown to believe that cloning is bad because of the moral and ethical codes, such as physical harm, involved with it.
Out of the three authorities chosen, the legal authority demonstrates the weakest viewpoint on human cloning. It does state that cloning is bad and should not be carried out, but, it does not do this with enough conviction. For example, the article states, “The Commonwealth does not have complete power to legislate on human cloning – it’s a matter for the States and Territories.” This statement shows that the Federal Government, although they disagree with human cloning, would pass the problem off onto State Governments rather than handling it themselves. From the article, it can be shown, that certain ethical considerations surface. Dr Wooldridge stated in the article that, “The Australian Government agrees strongly with the UNESCO Declaration on the human genome and human rights.” Article eleven of this declaration states that, “Practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, shall not be permitted”. The fact that the Australian Government will not permit “Practices which are contrary to human dignity”, shows that they consider human cloning an ethical breach of human rights.
The medical authority has the second strongest viewpoint of the three authorities. The AMA released an article that stated four main ethical considerations in relation to human cloning. These ethical considerations are; physical harms introduced by cloning, psychosocial harms introduced by cloning, the impact of cloning on family and society and the effects of human cloning on the gene pool. These four ethical considerations put across a very strong point about the negative effects of human cloning. When compared to the legal authority, it is shown that the medical authority has a much stronger viewpoint. This viewpoint, even though the same as the legal authority, has a lot more emphasis and formation to it. For example, “Until the benefits of human cloning are thought by society to outweigh the harms, it would be inappropriate for physicians to participate in human cloning.” This statement, while putting across the AMA’s strong point of view, also outlines their viewpoint on the topic of human cloning. It shows that they believe cloning, under no circumstances, to be undertaken at this point in time.
The authority with the strongest viewpoint on human cloning is the religious authority. Throughout the entire press conference, Cardinal Pell stated the Church’s view on human cloning in a way that reflected the passion that they have for the topic. In relation to the others, the religious authority has more than they do. Cardinal Pell’s speech had emotive words, ethical considerations and an extremely strong stance on the issue. All this is shown through one statement in his speech,
“My task as a Catholic Archbishop is to point out that God judges human conduct, as well as pointing out the importance of Catholics following Church teaching on matters of faith and morals. The vast majority of political matters are for the prudential judgement of each individual Catholic, but the Church is unambiguous that there are certain choices which are intrinsically evil and cannot in good conscience be condemned or promoted by faithful Catholics – the evil being known through right reason itself, as well as through Catholic faith.”
This statement shows just how powerful this authority is in comparison to the others. Neither of the legal or medical authority use as powerful language or delve as deeply into the ethical consequences as this one does. It shows the concept of morality in a way that the others don’t by highlighting the concept of human cloning as an act of evil/immorality.
After research and study was completed, the researcher reached a decision about which viewpoint they would accept and defend. Having researched all three authorities; legal, medical and religious, the researcher believes that human cloning is a procedure that should not be undertaken until the ethical considerations raised by the three authorities no longer exist. Pope John Paul II stated that, “Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, for example, risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life and death to order, as it were!” Pope John Paul was right. Would anyone in their right mind reduce themselves to that because they believe in cloning one human being? Is it really worth it to break all ethical and moral codes for something that is dangerous and benefits society in no way at all?
Researched Reference Notes
1. “To try cloning on humans today would be criminally irresponsible. The problems are far too serious.” (Palmer, P 2001, ‘Dolly’s Doctors Hit Cloning of Humans’, London Daily Telegraph, Retrieved May 10, 2008, from http://www.deepscience.com/articles/cloning.html) – This was used in the research assignment to support the hypothesis.
2. “The process of making a genetically identical copy of a living organism.” (Author Unknown 2007, ‘Definition of Cloning’, Retrieved May 10, 2008 from http://www.medterms.com) – This was the definition of cloning that helped characterize the topic chosen for the assignment.
3. “Nissen, D 1998, ’Federal Government Against Human Cloning’; Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Media Releases, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.healthconnect.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-archive-mediarel-1998-mw298.htm” – This is the legal authority, it is also located in Appendix B.
4. “American Medical Association 1999, ‘The Ethics of Human Cloning’; Report of the Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs of the American Medical Association, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/369/report98.pdf” – The medical authority, located in Appendix B.
5. “Archbishop of Sydney 2007, ‘Cardinal Pell’s Response to Parliamentary Inquiry’; Zenit: The World Seen From Rome, vol. 1, Retrieved May 15, 2008, from http://www.zenit.org/article-20567?l=english” – The religious authority, located in Appendix B.
6. “Abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, for example, risk reducing the human person to a mere object: life and death to order, as it were!” (Pope John Paul, 2003, ‘Speech’; Rome, Retrieved May 18, 2008 from http://www.notable-quotes.com/c/cloning_quotes.html) – This was used in the research assignment as a quote in the conclusion.