Bioethics Essay, which is the study of value judgments pertaining to human conduct in the area of
biology and includes those related to the practice of medicine, has been an important aspect of
all areas in the scientific field (Bernstein, Maurice, M.D.). It is one of the factors that says
whether or not certain scientific research can go on, and if it can, under which rules and
regulations it must abide by. One of the most recent and controversial issues facing our society
today is the idea of cloning.
On February 23, 1997, Ian Wilmut, a Scottish scientist, along with
his colleagues at the Roslin Institute and PPL Therapeutics, announced to the world that they
had cloned a lamb, which they named Dolly, after Dolly Parton, from an adult sheep (Mario,
The two share the same nucleic DNA, but differ in terms of their mitochondrial DNA,
which is vitally important for the regulation of the cell. The media and the press ignored this fact,
and thus claimed that Dolly and her “mother” were genetically identical, which sparked a fury of
outcry all around the world. The technique of transferring a nucleus from a somatic cell into an
egg cell of which the nucleus had been removed, called nuclear transplantation, is an extension of
research that had been ongoing for over 40 years.
Up until now, scientists thought that adult cells could not be “reprogrammed” to behave
like a fertilized egg and create an embryo, but the evidence obtained by Dolly’s success prove
otherwise. The issues of cloning have been around for a long time, starting with the publication of
Joshua Lederberg’s 1966 article on cloning in the American Naturalist, and the publics interest
has been perked by many sci-fi books, films, and movies including Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel
“Brave New World,” 1973’s “Sleeper,” the 1978 film “The Boys from Brazil,” and most
recently, the movie “Multiplicity” (Mario, Christopher).
The ethical, legal, and moral issues
aroused by cloning have been raised by previous projects, and are now simply emerging again,
with its focus on three major points: the shift from sexual reproduction with that of asexual
replication of existing genes; the ability to predetermine the genes of a child; and the ability to
create many genetically identical children (Report/Recommendations of the NBAC).
The public responded to Dolly with a mixture of fear and excitement, questioning the
benefits and the disasters that could happen in the future if research was to continue. From a poll
taken by Maurice Bernstein, M.D., the results showed that 72% of the votes said that cloning
should be prohibited by law. They believe that cloning for any reason would be an unethical and
immoral thing to do.
A common misconception of cloning is that it is the instantaneous creation
of a fully grown adult from the cells of the individual. Also, that an exact copy, although much
younger, of an existing person could be made, reflecting the belief that one’s genes bear a simple
relationship to the physical and psychological traits that make up a person. This is one point that
those against cloning are often worried about. That the clone would have no soul, no mind, no
feelings or emotions of their own, no say in how their life will be with their destiny predetermined
for them, and that each individual clone would not be unique. They are also afraid that the clone
will not be treated like a person, more like a worthless second copy, or a fill-in for what was
there but now is lost. Although the genes do play an important part, its the interaction among a
person’s genetic inheritance, their environment, memories, different life experiences, and the
process of learning that result in the uniqueness of each individual (Mario, Christopher).
People think that by cloning, we are taking the creation of life into our own hands, giving
us all the control over something never before in our power, and in essence “playing God”
(Mario, Christopher). But what they don’t realize is that for hundreds of years, humankind has
been controlling nature with the domestication of plants and animals, which is a violation of the
natural order of things as God has put them .