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There have been many advances in medicine over the past century. These along with greater access to food and clean water have combined to result in a noticeable increase in the lifespan of most people as well as the global population. Among these advances is the ability to produce a replica of a living organism from the original’s genetic material. This process, known as cloning, has been hotly contested by people within the sciences and lay people alike. This essay seeks to delve into the positives and negatives associated with the practice.
While many medical conditions have been completely eradicated or at least significantly reduced in severity, many others continue to wreak havoc on the most vulnerable. There are babies who are born with severe deformities or chromosomal abnormalities that doom them to a very brief life full of suffering. There are adults who may wait in vain for an organ donation that may never come. Through cloning, scientists would be able to conduct tests that are even more informative than those currently conducted on animals. These could yield more effective cures. Organs could be grown independently from bodies which would be available on demand to people in need. Although this is rarely considered, even transgendered people could potentially have the organs they lack grown in laboratories to create more complete bodies. Opponents to the process rarely if ever suggest alternative means to achieve these benefits.
The most frequently cited problem with the process of cloning is the moral implication of creating a person in a laboratory. The first children who were born through in vitro fertilization faced similar backlashes. People who were opposed stated that fertilizing an egg in a test-tube violated the divine plan. Still, that method resulted in the creation of biological children for parents who might not otherwise have conceived. The larger problem here comes from the desire to use cloned individuals for their parts. A heart may be grown in isolation but it is not a huge leap to believe that scientists would create an entire cloned human for research purposes. What rights would he or she have? Who would ensure that those rights were protected and respected? Would the very wealthy begin to keep clones for the sole purpose of harvesting their organs?
The issue of cloning will only grow more pressing as the technology becomes more cheap and accessible. Any moral quandaries it raises should therefore be dealt with now.