In 1996 in Scotland, Dr. Ian Wilmut, a Scottish scientist, “took an ovum from an ewe [sheep], sucked out the nucleus with its unique DNA, and then fused the ovum with a cell (with its own DNA) from the donor,” (Fr. William Saunders). From this technique, it created an ewe called Dolly, who was an exactly identical to the original donor. After she made headlines, people were curious and the question arises, “If this can be done with animals, why not with human beings?” (Fr. William Saunders). The Catholic Church believes human cloning is wrong because it is immoral and it undermines the dignity of a human being. By using human cloning it violates the fundamental principles of on which human rights are based on and it violates the principle upon which the sacrament of marriage was build upon. It denies the dignity of the person subjected and the dignity of human procreation. However, human cloning developments raises hope in new treatments.
By definition, human cloning is “the creation of a genetically identical copy of a human.” The Human Genetics Advisory Commision has also defined human cloning as “[creating] a cell or organism with the same nuclear genome as another cell or organism,” (Human Cloning, Jane Perrone). Through the process of human cloning, it takes an egg from the the woman’s ovary and removes the DNA taken from the egg and discards it. Once that has been done, they obtain a cell from the person to be cloned and remove the DNA from that cell as well, but they do not discard it. Afterwards, one must insert the DNA from the donor cell into the egg which replaces the egg’s DNA. From there they use “electrical pulses to cause cell division and a cloned embryo has been created,” (Archdiocese of Baltimore). This process that is used for cloning that scientists are trying to attempt to use for human cloning is known as nuclear transfer. The earliest events that is seen of cloning in general dates back all the way in 1885 with the first even demonstration of artificial embryo twinning of a sea urchin.
A more recent study in the 21st century has been conducted in 2007 on “primate embryonic stem cells created by the somatic cell nuclear transfer” (University of Utah). This recent study was tested and experimented on a Rhesus monkey. Because this experiment was done on a primate, an animal that shares a common ancestor to humans, it opened the door to new possibilities of human therapeutic cloning. A most recent study with human cloning was shown in 2013 when scientist Shoukhrat Mitalipov and other colleagues were the first to “create a human embryo that could be used as a source of embryonic stem cells” through the use of “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (University of Utah). Although this experiment, and probably a few others involving similar experiments to Mitalipov, have been conducted, what stops others from actually cloning a human being is the arising question if whether or not it is morally ethical or morally mandated to create a clone of a human being.
Because of recent studies that have been done with human cloning, the new developments of human cloning is raising awareness to those who have a trust in new technologies. The reasoning scientist have to answer the question “why clone human beings in the first place” is that the it provides a benefit as having clones can mean having “a supply of donor organs” (Jane Perrone). There is also the statement that having human cloning can provide the pathway to those who are seeking “eternal life” because they can make clones of themselves in their youth as old age is approaching them. Others say that a benefit human cloning can provide is it gives infertile couples a way of reproducing. The director of Manchester University’s Institute for Science, Ethics, and Innovation, Professor John Harris is one who see positive benefits for human cloning and is for the idea of it. He states that if one would “take a healthy adult’s DNA and use it to create a new person – by cloning – you are essentially using a tried and tested genome, one that has worked well for several decades for the donor,” (Robin McKie). He also includes the states that a child who is born has an “8% chance of [yielding] to a serious genetic abnormality because of the random selection [that is] of their DNA” (Robin McKie). Harris says that these problems can be avoided through a clone.
Harris also find it reasonable to ethnically question the idea of the an example of woman wanting a child of her own. But because some of society bans human cloning, she must instead conform to the idea of accepting 50% of another stranger’s DNA, and then having to mother ‘his child.’ Physiologist Professor Colin Blakemore of Oxford University claims that many people react in fear of a human clone, but are comfortable with the fact that “ [three] out of 1000 babies born today are clones – in the form of identical twins.” He also points out the fact the these twins not only share the same DNA, but they have also grown up in the same uterus and have had the same parenting features that only just intensifies their similarities. Professor Harris also includes that human cloning can be used as a medical advantage in many helpful ways.
For example, if there is a couple that are carriers of not only a harmful, but possibly fatal recessive genetic illnesses, there is a possibility of a one and four chance that if the couple decides to produce a child, their offspring will die of that condition. Because this is such a big risk, human cloning would be able to provide an alternative by cloning one of the parents so that they if they did do that, the parents would know the child they were producing would be unaffected by the illness down in their later life. However Ian Wilmut, led the team in the Dolly Sheep experiment, gives a word of caution that although their new work may be encouraging others to try and aim for human reproductive cloning, “the general experience is that it still results in late foetal loss and the birth of [something that is] abnormal” (Robin Mckie).
At one point, “the medieval church, in line with the Aristotelian doctrine, believed that an embryo acquired a soul only when it took recognizable human form,” (Giovanni Frazzetto). However, this point of view changed in 1869 when Pope Pius IX declared that “an embryo bore full human status from the time of fertilization” and since then, the Catholic Church has been stuck to this position and “damned the destruction of an embryo after conception as murder…and in addition, most church leaders are against human cloning..” (Giovanni Frazzetto). From this, the Catholic Church continually has asserted that a human being must be respected as a person from the very first instance of existence, which is the moment of conception; and human cloning diminishes and reduces the dignity of what a person is.
In Donum Vitae, it expresses a negative judgement regarding advanced certain methods of biomedical manipulation, human cloning being one that is looked at in a negative standpoint. It takes a negative stance because human cloning violates the principle of equality among human beings and the principle of non-discrimination, which are the two fundamental principles in which all human rights are based on. If taken into a deeper look, it violates the principle of equality among human beings because it gives the impression of man’s dominion over man and the discrimination comes through “ the whole selective-eugenic dimension inherent in the logic of cloning,” (Donum Vitae). It must also be seen as negative in regards to the dignity of a human person because the clone that enters this world is essentially a ‘copy’ (even though it is a biological copy) of another being; “this practice paves the way to the clone’s radical suffering, for his psychic identity is jeopardized by the real or even by the merely virtual presence of his ‘other,’ ” (Donum Vitae).The mere act of generating a clone, those ‘human beings’ will be treated no more than an object, not as people with their own rights or their own identities.
Human cloning also shows disrespect to God because through human cloning, it tells God that humans now have the capability to create and bring life without him. This false, for in the Old Testament, it the Book of Job declares that “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind,” (Job 12:10, Bible RSV). Although, if one were to create a clone, they cannot create a soul. Only God is capable of creating souls, for he designs them personally and creates them in his own image and likeness of himself. However, the reasoning for the rejection of human cloning is not because it is an extreme form of artificial procreation (in comparison to other legally approved forms), it is because “it denies the dignity of the person subjected to cloning and the dignity of human procreation” (Donum Vitae).
Richard M. Doerflinger, Associate Director for Policy Development at the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, voices that although human cloning shows disrespect for life because here “human life did not rise from an act of love, but it was manufactured in the laboratory to present specifications determined by the desires of others,” (USCCB). It undermines the dignity of a human being because instead of agreeing and cooperating with “God’s will to procreate through the conjunctional act of marriage, cloning involves the creation of human life [in the hands] of the scientist’s will and predetermined specifications,” (Archdiocese of Baltimore). This reduces human procreation/life to essentially a ‘manufacturing process.’ It puts woman in a situation where they are radically exploited and reduced merely for the use of their biological functions, using it as a research tool instead of viewing it as a vessel created by God. Coinciding with this, the Catechism states that the act of bringing a child or life into existence must be through “which two persons give themselves to one another… [not one in which it] entrusts the life and embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human persons,” (CCC, no. 2377). In other words the offspring has the right to be procreated, but in the way God has intended for it be. The children and the parents are presented equal before God because He created the child and the parents, and both parties both obey Him and respect Him out of reverence for their creator. It is “only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjunctional act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person,’ (CCC, no. 2377).
Although the Dolly experiment opened the door to possibilities of cloning human beings, it is the question whether or not it is morally the right thing to do or try to accomplish. It is not morally ethical to clone human beings because it defeats the purpose of the foundations the sacrament of marriage was built upon, as stated in Genesis 1:28, “And God bless them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it..” (Bible, RSV). The whole intention of marriage was the union of man and woman to come together to make life. Through human cloning, it gives man the power to control life and to control destiny, allowing man to play and taunt God in a way that is disrespectful and unnatural.