Legality of human cloning

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Discussion by: DiscoDad

I was reading on New Scientist about the ethics of cloning in light of the possible breakthrough in creating totipotent stem cells. There are of course laws and international treaties against reproductive cloning of humans, but it wasn't clear from what I have been able to find online what the penalties would be.

Given that maverick scientists are almost certain to try and clone a human as soon as it is possible, shouldn't we be thinking about the possible scenarios and how we, as a society, would respond?

For instance, if it were discovered that a child, age 10, was a clone, should the child be taken away from her/his parents?

36 COMMENTS

      • In reply to #3 by Roddy:

        In reply to #1 by Roddy:

        Over my dead body.

        The resurrection of Adolf Hitler?

        Think religion has got more to do with the Nazi party than any particular genes of Adolf Hitler.

        Following are a couple of his many statements “GOD WITH US” type statements…

        “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”

        “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

        -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

  1. Attempting to clone humans is currently illegal because the technology and science is in its infancy and the clones would almost certainly have dire defects that would lead to short and or horrible lives.

    If cloning can create a healthy normal person I don’t see why it would then be illegal.

    • In reply to #2 by canadian_right:

      Attempting to clone humans is currently illegal because the technology and science is in its infancy and the clones would almost certainly have dire defects that would lead to short and or horrible lives.

      If cloning can create a healthy normal person I don’t see why it would then be illegal.

      well I can’t see any good reasons for it and quite a few bad ones

      • In reply to #11 by nick keighley:

        In reply to #2 by canadian_right:

        well I can’t see any good reasons for it and quite a few bad ones

        Would you please share the reasons for making cloning humans illegal? I can’t think of any reason to make it illegal. It would be like making having identical twins illegal – they are clones of each other.

  2. “For instance, if it were discovered that a child, age 10, was a clone, should the child be taken away from her/his parents?”

    This child’s ‘parents’ would be precisely one stem cell and one male/female scientist/mass production line operative/packer.

    • In reply to #6 by Ospreywing:

      We don’t need to clone humans. There are already too many people in the world to provide a wholesome life for them. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it.

      Then we should reduce the number of humans being created naturally. And if we do that enough then your objection to cloning would be moot. To be clear, I’m only pointing out that your objection to cloning is not logically an objection to cloning.

  3. Sorry no comment on the topic of cloning but would mention that I tried reading a couple of articles from New Scientist. One of them was talking about how Homo Sapiens evolved from Neanderthals!!!!!! Am not kidding this was clearly stated in the article. Other article was about discovery of the missing link! Basically they will print anything to increase circulation and the content is completely unimportant to them. The fact they have “Scientist” in the title does not mean they are any more committed to accuracy than any other tabloid. I think you have to choose your science reading by reputable authors to be sure of any credibility. A credible science author will normally have relevant qualifications and experience as well as being authors (eg. Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Robert Wright, etc).

    • In reply to #8 by Catfish:*

      Sorry no comment on the topic of cloning but would mention that I tried reading a couple of articles from New Scientist. One of them was talking about how Homo Sapiens evolved from Neanderthals!!!!!!

      “I was reading on New Scientist about the ethics of cloning in light of the possible breakthrough in creating totipotent stem cells.”

    • In reply to #8 by Catfish:

      One of them was talking about how Homo Sapiens evolved from Neanderthals!!!!!!

      Genetic evidence suggests that non-african humans have some neanderthal ancestry. That’s quite a bit different from saying homo sapiens evolved from homo neanderthalensis. If New Scientist published humans evolved from neanderthals they should be ashamed. If they published something about limited interbreeding that would be reasonable.

      Other article was about discovery of the missing link!

      That’s pretty vague. There are many missing links and many recently found links. Tiktaalik roseae springs to mind.

      Publishers love a good Man Bites Dog headline. But this is an ethical what-if scenario anyway.

  4. The most immediate ethical dilemma would be whether or not this clone is a human being. It seems pretty obvious that it would be, not much of a dilemma really. But there would certainly arise arguments of intellectual property and ownership vs custodianship vs guardianship vs parental care. If it is human then it is due all rights and considerations of any other autonomous competent human being. But as we are not autonomous or competent for 18 years we are subject to intercession from the state if we are mistreated or neglected. There’s no reason it should be different for a cloned child. The law also regards family and a stable home as high priorities.

    So in answer to the question “If it were discovered that a child, age 10, was a clone, should the child be taken away from her/his parents?” the answer is no. Cloned origin, while illegal, would be insufficient reason to remove the child from the parents.

  5. The most immediate ethical dilemma would be whether or not this clone is a human being. It seems pretty obvious that it would be, not much of a dilemma really. But there would certainly arise arguments of intellectual property and ownership vs custodianship vs guardianship vs parental care. If it is human then it is due all rights and considerations of any other autonomous competent human being. But as we are not autonomous or competent for 18 years we are subject to intercession from the state if we are mistreated or neglected. There’s no reason it should be different for a cloned child. The law also regards family and a stable home as high priorities.

    So in answer to the question “If it were discovered that a child, age 10, was a clone, should the child be taken away from her/his parents?” the answer is no. Cloned origin, while illegal, would be insufficient reason to remove the child from the parents.

    • In reply to #15 by Akaei:

      The most immediate ethical dilemma would be whether or not this clone is a human being. It seems pretty obvious that it would be, not much of a dilemma really. But there would certainly arise arguments of intellectual property and ownership vs custodianship vs guardianship vs parental care. If it…

      A lot of people don’t seen to realize that all natural identical twins are clones of each other. No one thinks we need to punish their parents, or think they are sub-human. Clones started in a test tube would be like an identical twin that is a lot younger than usual.

      The only ethical dilemma I see is how you can develop human cloning without harming humans during its development. Will it be possible to perfect cloning in animals then apply the technology to humans without unacceptable risks of purposely creating a person that will suffer?

    • In reply to #18 by veggiemanuk:

      Just watch the film ‘MOON’ for a complete No from me, especially if we manage to do it as in that film.

      The ethical issue in MOON is that the clones 1. thought they were the original, 2. Perceived an ostensible goal they were working toward (going home and getting paid) and 3. were unaware of the environmental conditions they were working under. I don’t remember if it was known to the original that the clones existed and were being exploited. It is the deception and exploitation that were ethically abhorrent rather than the existence of the clones or the cloning process.

    • In reply to #18 by veggiemanuk:

      Just watch the film ‘MOON’ for a complete No from me, especially if we manage to do it as in that film.

      I like SF and I’ve watched and enjoyed the movie Moon, but a clone will NOT have your memories any more than your son or daughter does. This is a silly objection to cloning.

      • In reply to #23 by canadian_right:>

        Just how do you propose to clone evil? We were discussing cloning humans, not ideas.

        If you cloned me then you would be cloning evil because I am evil. Because I am human. If you did clone me then you would likely be a billionaire and I would be a clone of you. And when you died I would inherit your money and spend it in a way that you had brainwashed me to do i.e. primarily, make sure I remain a billionaire and then have myself cloned again. I’m OK with cloning sheep but not with humans. Because of WWII. And WWI. And Syria.

        • In reply to #24 by Roddy:

          In reply to #23 by canadian_right:>

          If you cloned me then you would be cloning evil because I am evil. Because I am human. If you did clone me then you would likely be a billionaire and I would be a clone of you….

          The objection is about scenarios, not cloning itself.

          I agree that in all likelihood those who could afford it would use cloning to bring themselves a little closer to immortality. Wouldn’t I? I think I would. But I also recognize that resulting entity(s) would not be as much me as I would hope. A highly similar initial neural structure and a highly similar endocrine system would mean a high potential for generating a very similar person. But so much of what happens to us shapes the clay we’re made from. Just as twins can grow up to be very similar or very divergent, so too could a clone. Despite my best despotic wishes, my clone legacy would not be me.

          • In reply to #25 by Akaei:

            resulting entity(s) would not be as much me as I would hope. A highly similar initial neural structure and a highly similar endocrine system would mean a high potential for generating a very similar person.

            Interesting. I’ve only watched Hollywood films on the subject.

      • In reply to #23 by canadian_right:

        Just how do you propose to clone evil? We were discussing cloning humans, not ideas.

        Evil instinct like Adolf Hitler’s will be cloned by mad scientists and groomed by megalomaniac billionaires over my dead clone’phobic body.

  6. Any living clones should be given the same rights as all other people. They are living people after all. Cloning functional humans should not be permitted. We don’t need clone armies. But host clones with no brain function should be promoted heavily. Great for organs, parts or a whole body transplant. I’m all for it.

  7. Well one would have to realize that a clone of someone would only be an exact replica physically. The way our brains process information from the time we are born, throughout our lives, dictate “who we are”. Think of it as a computer that starts to work a specific way because of how it was able to process data. Its going to take some crazy brainwave research to learn how to map ones conscience. Being that we cant isolate it, because its not a thing. Its a constant series of reactions based of of a combination of sensation and memory. ,,,Crazy stuff.

  8. In reply to #6 by Ospreywing:

    We don’t need to clone humans. There are already too many people in the world to provide a wholesome life for them. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it.

    Then we should reduce the number of humans being created naturally. And if we do that enough then your objection to cloning would be moot. To be clear, I’m only pointing out that your objection to cloning is not logically an objection to cloning.

  9. In reply to #8 by Catfish:

    One of them was talking about how Homo Sapiens evolved from Neanderthals!!!!!!

    Genetic evidence suggests that non-african humans have some neanderthal ancestry. That’s quite a bit different from saying homo sapiens evolved from homo neanderthalensis. If New Scientist published humans evolved from neanderthals they should be ashamed. If they published something about limited interbreeding that would be reasonable.

    Other article was about discovery of the missing link!

    That’s pretty vague. There are many missing links and many recently found links. Tiktaalik roseae springs to mind.

    Publishers love a good Man Bites Dog headline. But this is an ethical what-if scenario anyway.

  10. In reply to #18 by veggiemanuk:

    Just watch the film ‘MOON’ for a complete No from me, especially if we manage to do it as in that film.

    The ethical issue in MOON is that the clones 1. thought they were the original, 2. Perceived an ostensible goal they were working toward (going home and getting paid) and 3. were unaware of the environmental conditions they were working under. I don’t remember if it was known to the original that the clones existed and were being exploited. It is the deception and exploitation that were ethically abhorrent rather than the existence of the clones or the cloning process.

  11. In reply to #24 by Roddy:

    In reply to #23 by canadian_right:>

    If you cloned me then you would be cloning evil because I am evil. Because I am human. If you did clone me then you would likely be a billionaire and I would be a clone of you….

    The objection is about scenarios, not cloning itself.

    I agree that in all likelihood those who could afford it would use cloning to bring themselves a little closer to immortality. Wouldn’t I? I think I would. But I also recognize that resulting entity(s) would not be as much me as I would hope. A highly similar initial neural structure and a highly similar endocrine system would mean a high potential for generating a very similar person. But so much of what happens to us shapes the clay we’re made from. Just as twins can grow up to be very similar or very divergent, so too could a clone. Despite my best despotic wishes, my clone legacy would not be me.

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