Beneficence – The Bioethics of Human Cloning

Human cloning (HC) could provide great benefit to families and individuals who have lost the hope of ever having children to whom they have a genetic bond. HC could also substantially benefit those who have lost loved ones through disease or accident. Also, HC could provide cures for those suffering an incurable disease. Thus, there is considerable ethical justification for going forward with research in this contentious field.

HC could make it possible for infertile couples to have genetically related children in a wide set of circumstances. Many solutions already exist for couples who are able to provide neither viable sperm nor viable eggs. These couples may choose from a range of assisted reproductive technologies and sperm/egg donor options. But the children who are born via current methods of have no genetic connection to either parent.

With human cloning, sperm are not necessary and eggs do not need to be capable of fertilization by a sperm. Adult somatic cells (usually skin cells) serve as sperm substitutes. The nucleus is removed from the adult somatic cell and injected into an enucleated egg. The egg is manipulated by physical or chemical means to launch its fertilization program. Embryo creation occurs in the laboratory, bypassing defective physiologic systems of the mother, father, or both which have caused fertilization and development to fail in the past.

HC can result in the birth of a child who is genetically related to the mother and/or the father for couples who are both infertile. If both members of a male same-sex couple are infertile, HC would enable the birth of a child who is genetically related to one father. If both members of a female same-sex couple are infertile, HC would make it possible for them to have a child who is genetically related to both parents. HC significantly expands the capability of assisted reproductive techniques.

Additionally with the availability of HC, tragic circumstances can be mitigated to a certain extent. If a child is fatally killed in a car crash or dies after sustaining a head injury in football or ice hockey, parents would be able to clone the child using DNA from a somatic cell. The new child would not necessarily be identical to the deceased child in terms of personality, interests, and abilities, but he would be a genetic copy and that fact might ameliorate a great deal of the parents’ pain and suffering.

A third scenario involves cloning a child with a potentially fatal disease. The clone would be a histocompatible match and be able to provide replacement tissue for her older sibling.

In these diverse situations HC would confer substantial, lifelong benefits to all parties involved in the rearing of a child who is a clone. The parents, the child herself, extended family, friends, and the community all would all benefit from this breakthrough technology.

Source by David Lemberg

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