Common Sense: Panieri: ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ becoming a reality?
By Justine Panieri March 21, 2013 9:50PM
Updated: April 23, 2013 1:19PM
When people think of cloning, they think of science fiction books and movies. They may even think of “Dolly the sheep” and various other animals that have been created by cloning. In the darkest recesses of our minds, we associate cloning with the moral of “Frankenstein’s monster” — and what happens to humans who attempt to play God.
It’s difficult to believe that a scientist would attempt to step into the shoes of “The Creator.” But, don’t kid yourself, human cloning is possible, and will become a reality soon (if it hasn’t already). I’m thinking that society should not allow that to happen, provided it can be stopped.
Cloning involves extracting an ovum and stem cell from a healthy specimen, removing the nucleus and placing it into the ovum. The nucleus of the cell is removed and put into the ovum, and electrically stimulated to simulate fertilization. The results are implanted into the uterus of a living specimen, and if all goes well, you end up with a “mini me” specimen.
At the moment, human cloning is not legal anywhere. Ah, but beware of the loopholes that do allow the cloning of body parts. Before you know it, you end up with a hodgepodge of parts that morph into Frankenstein’s monster.
Human rights groups rally against cloning of any part of the human body, and with good reason. The idea of creating “body part farms” for the rich, who can afford to replace an ailing heart, opens the doors to all sorts of ethical nightmares.
Besides, a lot can go wrong. Foremost, it appears cloning increases the risks of certain congenital conditions and abnormalities. If the donor is prone to congenital heart disease, his clone will likely be twice as likely to develop the condition.
Even in clones that have been successful, such as Dolly the sheep, scientists have found the majority of clones to have severe abnormalities that do not show up, or the clone doesn’t live very long.
On the other hand, cloning would benefit infertile couples or someone dying of a genetic disease. And, imagine a clone of Albert Einstein or Ludwig Van Beethoven sharing their brilliance with the world, once again.
Ah, but if a clone of Albert Einstein can be manufactured, so could a clone of Adolf Hitler. And, using clones to find cures might lead to using human guinea pigs to test such cures. Or, what would stop certain governments from cloning armies of perfect soldiers or obedient wage slaves?
Both the religious and non-religious have issues with cloning. The major world religions believe it is God’s place to create. Even those with no moral objection to cloning find the idea of a “created human” a bit too creepy to contemplate.
Despite the many potential legal, moral and medical issues related to cloning, it’s just a matter of time before some “mad scientist” clones a human being. Here’s the question: Will it be a step forward — or a step backward — for the human race?
Email Justine Panieri at email@example.com.