Before any arguments can be discussed, we have to understand certain terminology involved in cloning. There are essentially three types of cloning techniques, DNA cloning, Reproductive cloning and Therapeutic cloning. While DNA cloning has been used in the laboratory for many years as an essential tool in Molecular Biology, it is Reproductive Cloning (Dolly the sheep was created using this technique) and Therapeutic Cloning (technique used to create stem cells) that are really the problem children of cloning.
First let us look at therapeutic cloning which basically involves creating human embryos for use in research. The process involves the extraction of stem cells from blastocysts (fertilized eggs that have undergone divisions for around 5 days). From these blastocysts, scientists extract Embryonic Stem Cells which are Pluripotent i.e. they have the ability to form any type of cell given the right set of conditions.
Many opponents to cloning say that the embryo represents a human being and that if it had undergone complete development, it would have produced a life, and thus the extraction was akin to murdering the unborn. The question here is, should the embryo be considered as a human being even though technically it is just a collection of cells And if not, then at what stage in its development can we consider that the embryo has life
Then there is reproductive cloning which is the most debated of all cloning topics. Through reproductive cloning there is the possibility of creating human clones. Many arguments against human cloning involve the fact that the process of cloning has a low success rate. And should a clone be produced, then can the birth of such an individual be considered as unnatural Of course one could also argue that IVF is an unnatural form of reproduction, but then it has helped thousands of infertile couples.
Another issue to be looked at is that the majority of animal clones that are created today have very low survival rates, with many of them having poor health and thus leading a short and compromised life. So if one were to create a human clone, that individual need not necessarily lead a normal and healthy life and instead may end up living a short and maybe agonizing life. Who should then be held accountable for the individual
Also the concept of creating human clones for human farms where organs can be harvested for transplant patients is another area that has to be looked at. Can we really create human beings whose sole purpose in life is for their organs Don't these clones as individuals also have the right to live
But the buck does not stop there; today rudimentary genetic screening is used on fetuses to determine whether they have any of the identifiable incurable genetic diseases and whether to abort the pregnancy. Though this technique has many benefits, one can also say that as individuals, do we have the right to decide who has to right to live and who doesn't And with such technology getting more sophisticated, where can we draw the line Very soon parents may look at other genetic traits and determine whether to abort a pregnancy, leading to a whole new form of discrimination.
The thoughts put forward here are just some of the many topics that have to be debated by society as such to determine what is acceptable to the society