Ethics regarding cloning

Are clones property, or human beings? What rights do clones have? And what rights do others have over clones?

Cloning is something that I think we need to discuss more. I agree with you that healthcare professionals are constantly challenged. Saving lives and making lives better are not easy tasks. The idea of cloning humans raises so many questions in my mind. Why should humans be cloned? What purpose does cloning humans serve? Why would someone want to produce individuals, entities or populations, identical to the parent or original organism from which they were obtained or derived (Iqbal et al., 2020)?

I agree that the idea of saving stem cells from umbilical cords can be useful and ethical, but how many people can afford to store the stem cells once they are harvested? Cloning organs this way is probably the most ethical way to clone organs, and it is certainly better for the patient receiving identical body parts. Are scientist considering cloning people for their organs? That is scary! I would hate to know that the only reason for me being on earth is so that someone could harvest my organs.

Cloning can be useful and improve some people’s lives, but there are still so many unanswered questions about it that I hope the experiments would be limited to plants although I have read about experiments using animals. Legal and ethical issues arising from the human genome project at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington in 2001 included discussions about the methods used to clone, whether or not cloning is feasible, and property rights issues (Hilmert, 2001).

There are two methods used in cloning; blastomere separation which involves splitting an embryo soon after fertilization and the somatic nuclear technique (SNTC) that was used to clone Dolly (Collins, 2006) which is a technique that removes the egg cell and replaces it with the nucleus from a somatic cell (Hilmert, 2001). Both methods are capable of creating clones.

Back in the early 2000s when lawmakers were making legislation to ban cloning, a former ethicist for the NIH, John Fletcher, commented, “the reasons for opposing this are not easy to argue.” (Hilmert, 2001). We are now twenty years down the road and scientists are cloning organs. Therapeutic cloning, which is also known as organ cloning, is the process of creating new human organs and tissues, never newborn babies, from the cultivation of stem cells. As such, the resultant organ has an identical gene structure as the recipient such that there are theoretically little chances for rejection (Surfcrs, 2011).

We have a moral obligation to cure diseases when we can, and to save lives when we can, but it is still unclear what rights a clone has and who owns the rights to a tissue. Could a clone ever be developed for the well being of the clone?  Cloning plays an important role in the development of stem cell research for embryonic stem cells transplantation into patients because the stem cells would be a genetic match for the donor patient. There would be no risk of rejection and for xenotransplantation which is the cloning of organs using animals that has a higher rejection rate.

Who owns the clones? Courts already recognize a property interest in living material.” Several different parties may potentially claim cloned organs or tissues: the DNA/tissue donor, the clone, and the scientist who developed the cloned tissue/organ or transgenic animal (Hilmert, 2001). Property law governing renewable and nonrenewable body parts addresses ethical and moral questions. The DNA donor to has an interest in his or her own DNA and any claim over the organs of the clone. In the cloning case, Moore v. Regents of the University of California, the court determined Moore had a cause of action for breach of fiduciary duty, but the court declined to find a cause of action for conversion.’ To bring an action

for conversion, Moore had to “establish an actual interference with his ownership or right of possession” (Hilmert, 2001). In other words, he had to have retained ownership of his cells after they had been removed. The court in Cornelio v. Stamford Hospital” followed a similar line of reasoning. However, other cases indicate that there may be property interest in cryopreserved pre-zygote and the Hecht v. Superior Court that involved property rights concerning sperm(Hilmert, 2001).

Patentability of living things is addressed in the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case where the respondent filed a patent application for a genetically engineered bacterium capable of degrading oil, something which no naturally occurring bacteria is known to do. The patent examiner rejected the claim on the grounds that “micro-organisms are ‘products of nature,’ and… as living things they are not patentable subject matter.” But the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, Supreme Court found the bacterium is  patentable subject matter under § 101 of the Patent Act and reversed the decision (Hilmert, 2001).

Patent US 6,211,429, granted to the University of Missouri on April 3, 2001 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) was written so broadly that it appears to include human cloning and products of cloning in its protection (Cunningham, 2002). Cunningham’s vision of public policy concerning humans either conceived or created through science entails; a right to autonomy, i.e., that his or her bodily integrity must not be invaded or compromised by others; No person or entity has the right to enslave, own, or control any human being, regardless of stage of biological development; Any organism that is genetically human is a human being; A cloned embryo is distinct and separate from the person donating the genetic material, and therefore is a unique being protected in law; No person or institution has the right to control or profit from any process designed to clone a human being.

Related Articles: BioEthics of using Stem Cells, Cloning, Genetic Enhancements, Brain Machine Interfaces, and rapidly growing technological advances in science.

References

Collins, F. S. (2006). The language of God: A scientist presents evidence for belief. New York,          NY: Free Press. ISBN: 9781416542742.

Cunningham, Comstock, (2002), The Right to Patent a Human Being: Fact, Fiction, or Future Possibility?, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, https://cbhd.org/content/right-patent-human-being-fact-fiction-or-future-possibility

Hilmert, Laura, J., (2001), Cloning Human Organs: Potential Sources and Property Implications, J.D., Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington 2001; B.S. Biology, Indiana, University, 1998, Retrieved from, http://ilj.law.indiana.edu/articles/77/77_2_Hilmert.pdf

Pozgar, G. D. (2019). NVPMD: Legal aspects of healthcare administration. 13E-Liberty Custom. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett. ISBN: 9781284170931.

Surfcrs, (2011), Organ Cloning Ethics, http://www.cloneorgans.com/organ-cloning-ethics/18/

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Patty

I love life and people. I am a daughter, mother, and a grandmother.

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