Ever since the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, people everywhere have questioned the morals and ethics of creating living creatures from non-living things. This novel was very controversial as Shelley was way ahead of her time. Such attempts at playing God created more bad than good in this story, as it would today. What would she say if she were here to see the sheep named Dolly who was cloned in Scotland in 1997? Since Shelley’s startling novel, people in society have had to deal with many scientific discoveries, the most recent being human cloning.
Would Mary Shelley have advocated human cloning? The theme of her novel focused on a scientist who was forced to deal with the horrible consequences of what he had created. If we allow human cloning, we as a society may have to deal with the repercussions of our own curiosity.
In recent news, the House passed a bill that put a ban on all human cloning but would not restrict the use of cloning technologies to produce molecules, DNA, tissues and cells other than human embryos. It would even allow the use of stem cell research because it does not require the cloning of humans. Anyone who violates this bill is forced to pay civil penalties of $1 million and could face up to 10 years in prison.
In the past, certain medical breakthroughs such as heart transplants and small pox vaccinations were seen as being an attempt for scientists to “play God” and were very controversial. Many who are in favor of cloning use this argument to support their claim that cloning seems risky now, but in the future it could help human society just like open-heart surgery and small pox vaccines.
Heart transplants do allow a doctor to put a beating heart into a person’s body in order to allow them to live a better life. When that person wakes up from the surgery, they will still be the same individual they were when they went to sleep. After that surgery there won’t be another person on this earth who has the same genetic code, the same feelings, or emotions, as the person who awoke from the surgery. With cloning, our individuality is in danger.
Some argue that cloning should be allowed for medical purposes. For example, if a person has cirrhosis of the liver, why not just clone a healthy liver cell, grow a liver in a jar and implant it into the sick patient. All will be well. Or will it?
Let’s go back to Dolly the sheep for just a moment. Dolly was born in 1997. Is she still alive? No, she died in February of 2003 at the ripe old age of six. Say we create a liver in a jar and give it to the patient suffering from cirrhosis of the liver, does that mean they only have six years to live? Even if they were given a healthy liver, would it be compatible, or would their body reject the foreign organ? Would their quality of life have to take a back seat to quantity of life?
Scientists will acknowledge that what I have said is true. Human cloning has not yet been perfected, and therefore, flaws will arise creating complications in patients. They will use that as an argument for more research and more testing. My question is how many people and animals have to suffer to help us reach the goal of cloning life, which can be created through sexual reproduction? We were given a natural way to recreate humans, why not just let nature take its course?
Mary Shelley may have been way ahead of her time. It is now our turn as a society to weigh the pros and cons of something as controversial as human cloning. If we give science an inch, it is sure to take a mile and wipe out our individuality we hold so dear.