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The Cloning Dilemma

INTRODUCTION:

Ever wondered what is the effect when a bolt of lightning strikes the ground? Human Cloning has the same kind of intensity like a bolt of lightning on the world. Cloning is an interesting and new technology that has been developed in the fields of science, but Cloning and Human Rights are like parallel lines, they move alongside each other but never meet.

WHAT IS HUMAN CLONING?

Human Cloning refers to designing an exact copy or clone of humans which is identical to the donor. This type of creation is usually done from artificially made human cells, tissue reproduction, etc., it does create identical twins as if it was conceived naturally. It is an asexual process of reproduction of an organism that is an exact genetic copy of another. This means that every single bit of DNA is the same between the two. The concept of Human Cloning looks good theoretically but in the aspect of trials and tests, it is attached with a lot of controversies. The first time Cloning was tried was back in the 20th century with a famous sheep named Dolly. Earlier cloning of animals was a common process, Dolly, a cloned sheep was the first of the lot. In July 1996 a scientist named Ian Wilmut used a technique named Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) to get Dolly back to life. Dolly was a famous symbol of the magic of science. After the success, discussions were done to regulate cloning laws which might differ from nation to nation.

 IS HUMAN CLONING AN ETHICAL CONDUCT?

Human cloning continues to be a significant issue throughout the world, despite years of endless debate there is no such clarity on if Human Cloning is harmful to Human Dignity? Usually, the term Human Dignity is used to justify cloning laws, but in this case, some agree, and some don’t. If we investigate the ethical conduct of cloning, it does have many positive aspects to consider, unless it is misused for one’s advantage which in turn could lead to human destruction.[1] Every coin has a flip side, it is one’s perspective on which side do they look into. There are a lot of studies that lack a thoughtful analysis of how can cloning be beneficial to the role of Human Dignity, but what exactly is this Human Dignity? And why is the relation between these two given so much importance? No one seems to know why. However, it’s time we throw some light on how Human Cloning does not infringe Human Dignity. 

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There are a few policies from the Giants of the world that state how Human Cloning at some level infringes Human Dignity. One of the prominent examples is of UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights which recommends a ban on practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning. Similarly, in 1998, the World Health Organization reaffirmed that cloning for the replication of human individuals is ethically unacceptable and contrary to human dignity and integrity. Besides the disagreement of these giants there is some kind of agreement academically.[2]

They say that cloning takes away the uniqueness by copying someone else’s genome, but how is uniqueness related to someone’s genome? Let’s assume that the genome is the main source of a person’s dignity then how is copying the genome an infringement of Human Dignity? Our genome plays a key role in how we develop, but it does not define our uniqueness or who we are as an individual. Ever wondered why instrumentalizing the clone is a bigger issue, is it because it is creating another soul through artificial means? Or is it because that individual comes out through Cloning will not be accepted in the society. Here the Human dignity is not infringed but the dignity of the clone is being infringed. If one accepts that genes do not define our life, then why is there a problem with Human Cloning? If one accepts all other artificial means of giving birth to children like IVF, Surrogacy, etc., then Human Cloning should have the same acceptance too.[3]

In this process of ‘copying’ the genes, the asexual process is unnatural, and this process is “replication” and not “reproduction”. Individuals may not feel completely comfortable with the asexual process but how is the process of getting a child into this world against human dignity. If we lived in a society that accepted Human Cloning, then individuals who are a product of cloning would be treated as more human and cloning would be a far-off pressing issue.

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HUMAN DIGNITY AND CLONING LAWS:

If one would be sceptical, it would be easy to conclude that Human dignity is used to cover Cloning laws. When discussion on cloning laws happen, it becomes difficult to find an open mind as everyone is of the notion that it’s an infringement of Human Rights and Dignity. This fits well with the concern of the public as their only worry is how can they come up with some less articulate reference to Fundamental Rights. In the end everything is about the textbook language we have been taught no one thinks beyond that. For most of the public, Human Cloning is not accepted due to religion and they will do anything to protect their religion even though it has nothing to do with it. The use of Human Dignity allows policymakers to avoid the appearance since they are seeking to regulate morality but in the eyes of law moral belief is not enough to outlaw an important matter like Human Cloning.[4] Even a country like India has encouraged thorough research on Human Cloning and the government has no objections to the use of embryonic stem cells and does allow research on what is called therapeutic cloning, a technique that offers hope for organ replacement. Well, there is room for errors but does not mean you ban it completely on the failures that have been caused.

The author too has concerns regarding Human Cloning but believes that it will have good practical use, the health and safety measures will have some enhancement. It will be beneficial for science and research yet Human Cloning is a problem. Is the problem of general cultural anxiety the reason for the ban? Policymakers should not always add Human Dignity as the main problem they should be transparent of what the real issue is.

CONCLUSION:

Finally, we are in danger of degrading the value of human dignity in the name of protecting it. Science and technology are rapidly increasing and with every new technology, there will be challenges and will raise issue associated to Human Dignity. The ad hoc application of human dignity about human cloning will undoubtedly impact how it is applied to future technologies. Ironically Human Cloning is less about embracing the future but about fixing human experience. Medical and life extension will preserve the person who is alive right now. Well this could be the time where Humans get a chance to play god.

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[1] Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Achieving National Regulation Of Human Cloning, BIOETHICS (March. 2001), http://www.bioethics.org.au/Resources/Online%20Articles/Opinion%20Pieces/1301%20Achieving%20national%20regulation%20of%20human%20cloning.pdf.

[2]  As per United States bill, H.R. 3498, dated 11 Sep 2015, human cloning is banned in United States but research not prohibited including research in the use of nuclear transfer or other cloning techniques to produce molecules, DNA, cells other than human embryos, tissues, organs, plants, or animals other than humans.

[3] Dr John I Fleming, Cloning: Sometimes ‘NICE’ and sometimes ‘NASTY’?, BIOETHICS (June. 1999), http://www.bioethics.org.au/Resources/Online%20Articles/Opinion%20Pieces/1102%20Cloning%20sometimes%20nice%20and%20sometimes%20nasty.pdf.

[4] Ira H. Carmen, Bioethics, Public Policy, and Political Science, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS (May. 17, 2016), https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences/article/bioethics-public-policy-and-political-science/1E7EC2E44A07FBD4519177AFA1D47E31.


Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Priyanka Shahani, The Cloning Dilemma, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (November 14, 2020), https://exgratialawjournal.in/blawg/human-rights/the-cloning-dilemma-by-priyanka-shahani/.

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Author

Priyanka Shahani
Student - K C Law College, Mumbai