Uses of Reproductive Cloning

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What uses might there be, or what reasons might someone have, for producing a human being through cloning? What follows is a survey of a number of possible uses of this procedure, some of which are obviously more problematic than others. The ethical issues that have been or might be raised regarding the possible uses of reproductive cloning will then be discussed.

One of the probable primary uses, if cloning does become a reality, is for the treatment of fertility problems. For example, if the male or husband is sterile, or does not produce sperm, DNA from one of his cells could be inserted into a de-nucleated egg from the female or wife who would also bear the child. Both would then be contributing to the make up and birth of the child. Many have pointed out that there is a strong desire among people who want a child to have one that is biologically related to them. These parents also may wish to avoid the confusion that can result from the use of donor eggs or sperm. If the woman is infertile, another woman's egg could be used along with the DNA of the infertile woman or her husband or partner. Cloning might also be used to avoid genetic diseases.

Another possible use would be in the fertilization of a woman who wants to have children to whom she is related biologically, but who does not have a partner and does not wish to use donor sperm. The woman might be one who is single and who has not found a suitable partner, or who is divorced and still wants to have children. A cell from her body could be used. In this case the child would be a clone of the woman herself. Or in the case of a lesbian couple, a cell from the body of the other partner could be used. In this case both would have contributed to the make up of the child.

Someone might want to produce a child who is a clone of a much-loved spouse or child who has died. As noted below, while this would not bring back the loved one or duplicate them exactly, there would be some similarities and thus in a way the ability to keep some part of the person alive. One might even want to achieve a certain kind of immortality by cloning oneself. This would be similar in some way to living on through our children and their children.

Cloning could also be used to help ill family members. There have been cases in which parents have conceived a child in the hope that he or she could be a donor match for a sibling who had some serious disorder. A child who was the clone of such a sibling could also be a blood or bone marrow donor for the sibling. Although no one is suggesting that clones would be produced simply as the source of organs, some organ donation might not be objectionable.

Finally, cloned human beings could provide us with further information about the relationship between nature and nurture. A disabled person might want to show or see what he would have been like but for the disability, or someone might simply be curious to see how a clone of himself might grow to adulthood.

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  • asphodel
    Does the donor have to be alive for reproductive cloning?
    2 years ago

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