Cloning: A no brainer

by FatLip

It was my visit to trauma ward at Saint Mary’s hospital that ultimately elucidated the true fragility of the human body. I watched the mobs of gurneys scream in and out, ushering some very depressed and despondent looking faces. Amidst the confusion I caught sight of a girl and her parents, patiently awaiting the service of the greatly coveted doctors. The girl was twelve and she wore a milk-white band of gauze across her abdomen. “We’re back here again”, exclaimed the girl’s mother, explaining that her daughter’s kidneys have been dysfunctional since birth. Hearing her words I began to empathize with what such a hardship could present to a normal lifestyle. Her exasperated stare gave way to a single tear which ran the breadth of her cheek. “It’s not fair”, she sobbed, “Julie has had more surgeries than birthdays”.

A solution exists that might give Julie a second chance at life. When asked whether or not we, as humans, should engage in the cloning of other beings, many will instinctively and undoubtedly respond that we, invariably, should not. To do so would violate the very essence of individuality and human dignity. Ostensibly this seems to be the kind hearted sentiment firing the anti-cloning cannons. Television and movies have bred ignorance of the issue and branded cloning with a virulent destructive stigma. Many who seek to condemn cloning are themselves often hypocritical, irrationally endorsing dehumanizing practices.

  • Priest Joseph James at Saint Paul’s Cathedral is adamant about the inhumanity of human cloning. “It’s not the way God meant it to be” he remarks. Apparently the church would not condone such “inhumane” acts. However, those who thump to the sound of the book still frown on ordaining a woman.
  • A husband and wife trying desperately to have a baby meet with repeated defeat. Having refused the adoption of a black orphaned child, they chose to attempt in vitro fertilization, or IVF, a procedure that benefits greatly from cloning research. They conceive.
  • John Dimwit of Sacramento, California recalls his experience with cloning. As an avid action movie fan, John has seen many movies depicting cloning in its natural and unbiased form, through the eye of a Hollywood camera lens. When asked if cloning should be pursued as a viable means to advance humanity, John declines, citing the armies of evil clone-drones in the last Schwarzenegger flick.

As we progress throughout the years it becomes harder and harder to navigate the maze of socially acceptable do’s and don’ts. Yes to abortion, No to capital punishment, Yes to life incarceration, the list grows perpetually. Under the gaze of a mindful eye we see that cloning of human tissue is not so black and white, but exists in many forms, some of which could be quite humane. Cloning individual organs and not entire people could be beneficial while maintaining ethical acceptability. Julie, the girl in the hospital, was born without a fully functional set of kidneys. If we could grow her new organs shouldn’t we do so? Of course, the true humanitarian would turn a deaf ear to her story of woe. Researchers at the University of Boston, in an effort to provide a viable medium for organ replacement, grew a human ear on the back of a mouse. These researchers indicate this could “open the door to a more humane approach to medical research.” This has led to hope that scientists will one day come up with the scientific breakthrough that would enable them to regrow noses and ears for humans.

As I have tried to show, the concept of humane conduct is subjective and rather transient. There exists no uniform standard about what is acceptable and what is not, even when it comes to human life. Cultural norms dictate what is appetizing and what is not. After all, the Wari tribes of the Amazon eat people! Not to worry, one need not swallow cannibalism quite yet.

We must concede that the growing of an entire human being for the purposes of harvesting does seem a bit callous. Obviously it is difficult to gauge the significance of one person over another. However, what if we weren’t comparing two identical persons. I propose we sidestep the ethical issue by replicating Mother Nature herself. Occasionally a child, conceived like any other, will grow to suffer from a naturally occurring birth defect, the absence of a brain . Anencephaly, as it is termed, might be just the brainchild we’re looking for. Without a noodle our clone might not think twice about lending us an organ or two. If we could induce our clone to develop in this way, our payoff is sure to double.

Our genetic copy, being clinically dead, would be beyond the focus of any ethical dilemma. We could liken this to the taking of organs from those recently deceased, a mainstream and accepted practice. In light of such a development Kahn’s arguments for human dignity are moot. “What medical and scientific ‘justification’ might there be for cloning?” I need think only of Julie, the poor girl who was unfortunate enough to have been born with underdeveloped kidneys. Should we find a way to clone anencephalic bodies we will have irrefutably increased human dignity, not regressed from it. There you have it; Cloning, a no brainer. Think about that one for a while …

  • Cloning: A no brainer
  • by FatLip
  • Published on December 1st, 2001

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