A REPLICA OF ONESELF
Human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical copy of a human being (not usually referring mono-zygotic multiple births), human cell, or human tissue.Although the possibility of cloning human beings has been the subject of speculation for much of the twentieth century, scientists and policy makers began to take the prospect seriously in the 1960s. Nobel Prize winning geneticist Joshua Lederberg advocated for cloning and genetic engineering in a seminal article in the American Naturalist in 1966 and again, the following year, in the Washington Post. He sparked a debate with conservative bio ethicist Leon Kass, who wrote at the time that "the programmed reproduction of man will, in fact, dehumanize him." Another Nobel Laureate, James Watson, publicized the potential and the perils of cloning in his Atlantic Monthly essay, "Moving Toward the Clonal Man", in 1971.
Advocates of human therapeutic cloning believe the practice could provide genetically identical cells for regenerative medicine, and tissues and organs for transplantation. Such cells, tissues and organs would neither trigger an immune response nor require the use of immunosuppressive drugs. Both basic research and therapeutic development for serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as improvements in burn treatment and reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, are areas that might benefit from such new technology. New York University bioethicist Jacob M. Appel has argued that "children cloned for therapeutic purposes" such as "to donate bone marrow to a sibling with leukemia" might someday be viewed as heroes.Proponents claim that human reproductive cloning also would produce benefits. Severino Antinori and Panos Zavos hope to create a fertility treatment that allows parents who are both infertile to have children with at least some of their DNA in their offspring.
Some scientists, including Dr. Richard Seed, suggest that human cloning might obviate the human aging process. Dr. Preston Estep has suggested the terms "replacement cloning" to describe the generation of a clone of a previously living person, and "persistence cloning" to describe the production of a cloned body for the purpose of obviating aging, although he maintains that such procedures currently should be considered science fiction.
There have been no documented cases of a living human being produced through human cloning. However, the most successful (though inefficient) common cloning technique in non-human mammals is the process by which Dolly the sheep was produced. It is also the technique used by Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), the first company to successfully clone early human embryos that stopped at the six cell stage. The process is as follows: an egg cell taken from a donor has its cytoplasm removed. Another cell with the genetic material to be cloned is fused with the original egg cell, transferring its cell nucleus to the enucleated donor egg. In theory, this process, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, could be applied to human beings.
ACT also reported its attempts to clone stem cell lines by parthenogenesis, where an unfertilized egg cell is induced to divide and grow as if it were fertilized, but only incomplete blastocysts resulted. Even if it were practical with mammals, this technique could work only with females. Discussion of human cloning generally assumes the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer, rather than parthenogenesis.
On December 12, 2001, the United Nations General Assembly began elaborating an international convention against the reproductive cloning of human beings. Lawrence S. B. Goldstein, college professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California at San Diego, claims that the United States, unable to pass a national law, forced Costa Rica to start this debate in the UN over the international cloning ban. Unable to reach a consensus on a binding convention, in March 2005 a non-binding United Nations Declaration on Human Cloning was finally adopted.
In 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007, the United States House of Representatives voted whether to ban all human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic. Each time, divisions in the Senate over therapeutic cloning prevented either competing proposal (a ban on both forms or reproductive cloning only) from passing. Some American states ban both forms of cloning, while some others outlaw only reproductive cloning.
Current regulations prohibit federal funding for research into human cloning, which effectively prevents such research from occurring in public institutions and private institutions such as universities which receive federal funding. However, there are currently no federal laws in the United States which ban cloning completely, and any such laws would raise difficult Constitutional questions similar to the