Cloning is a term derived from a Greek word "clone". Clone refers to a twig or a branch in Greece. Cloning is a process whereby an identical copy of something is created to look exactly like the original. In biological terms, cloning is the process by which copies of DNA or cells are created and in the end a complete copy of the organism is reproduced. Cloning processes are carried out in the laboratories where a nucleus, which bears the genetic material of an organism, is removed from a cell and is then fused together with an empty egg cell. This process is done using electricity and the fused cell is ready to develop and grow into an embryo. This embryo will then develop to become a baby in the labs (Lebacqz & Zoloth, 1985).
In the year 1997, the first ever successful process of cloning took place in Scotland. A group of scientists based at the Roslin Institute cloned an adult cell from a sheep. This sheep was called Dolly. After their announcement of their successful project, it drew various reactions from members of the society. Many people questioned how ethical this process was, from the scientists, the religious leaders and even the legal bodies in the society. This was the very first time such a process had been tried and turned out successful using an animal that was also a mammal. Some people hoped that the same could be done from a mature cell of humankind while others were frightened by the thought of this happening as man was trying to make himself God. Human cloning is not a new thing in the medical world and in the science world. A number of institutions are already making cloning part of their businesses in matters regarding health. However, a majority of the members of the community still oppose this new technology deeming it as unethical (Kilner, 2009).
According to the scientists, human cloning is seen as a major achievement in the world of technology. The scientists see nothing wrong with this and consider it a blessing in disguise. The diseases science has not yet discovered the medicine to cure them can be tackled using cloning. An example to this is the heart problem. If an individual has got a heart problem, there will be no need for that person to spend huge amounts of money in order to find himself a donor for the organ. All he will need to do is donate a cell from his body and cloning for his heart will be done. This will have saved the patient a lot of money. Scientists tend to think that God gave us brains in order to come up with such ideas. According to them, this means that God does not forbid us from creating using innovative processes like cloning. However, some scientists still oppose this process. They describe it as being an equal to killing the unborn babies. J. William Langston, the president of the Parkinsons Institute stated that the research was only being put forth by using the huge numbers of embryos that had already been obtained from fertility treatments. He said "These would ultimately be disposed of in any event, it would be better to allow them to serve some function rather than be destroyed. In addition, bans on government funding for stem cell research because of the opportunities for public review afforded by the process of securing government grants" (Parkinson, 2005)
In defending the ethical basis of the cloning process, the scientists offer a number issues where cloning could come in handy. Cloning can be done for the purpose of creating copies of people who are dead. It can also be done to engineer better genes of the offspring of the humans and the animals. This process could also come in handy when in terms of providing cure for diseases. The scientists also believe that the endangered species in the environment can be protected from extinction by cloning them and increasing their population. In terms of procreation, they argue that the members of society who would like to have children could benefit from this process. Couples who have always wanted to have children but are not so lucky because of being infertile will find this process so relieving for them. In addition to this, there a re a lot of women in the society who have chosen to remain single for the rest of their lives, but they want to have children. Cloning will be of benefit to them. According to the scientists, this process could also prove important for the couples whose child had died and they wish to have him back. They could choose this process instead of the in-vitro fertilization. Children who are sick and are in need of organ transfers but cannot afford the payments will also benefit from this process. Based on these arguments, the scientists show why they believe cloning is ethical (Kenton, 1998).
The members of the legal board tend to disagree with what the scientists. In countries around the world, laws prohibiting this process have been enacted to prevent the human cloning process from being practiced. In 2001, the United Nations put forth an international convention to look into this issue. The convention was against the cloning of the human beings. Costa Rica commenced this debate in the UN to ban international cloning. A college professor of cellular and molecular medicine at the University of California, Lawrence S. B, believes that the United States forced them to do this. According to him, the U.S was unable to pass a national law (Jackson, 2008). The UN was however not able to agree on this convention. In 2005, the U.N adopted a non-binding declaration on human cloning. In Australia, this scientific process has been banned and it is illegal. However, in December 2006 a bill was passed. This stated that within certain limits, an exception is made and therapeutic cloning is allowed. The member countries of the European Union have prohibited human cloning. This is based on the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. However this has only been ratified in Greece, Spain and Portugal. The E.U charter prohibits human cloning for reproduction although it is has got no legal standing yet (Logston, 1999).
In the United States, the House of Representatives debated on this issue in 1998, 2001 and 2003 . They voted on whether to ban both the reproductive and therapeutic process. Some of the American states allow therapeutic and reproductive cloning. However, others allow only the therapeutic. The current regulations do not however allow funding for any form of research regarding the human cloning. Ironically, no laws ban this process completely. Though not defined properly, the general overview of this is that cloning is not supported by many people in this nation and is deemed unethical. In the United Kingdom, the British government had brought to the table a legislation that stated human cloning is ethical especially when relating to therapeutic purposes (Robinson, 1997). This was in January 2001. However, this legislation was quickly overridden by another which prohibited any form of this process. In the present day, therapeutic cloning is allowed. The first license was to allow them to investigate treatments for diabetes. It was also to look into Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. The majority of these legal bodies in these countries have opposed the legalization of the human cloning. This is because they deem it to be unethical (Snow, 2002).
The religious views on this process differ from those of the scientists. According to the religious leaders and the believers, the human cloning is seen as a mockery to God. The scientists are seen to be comparing themselves to God and measuring their abilities to create human beings too. Islam believes that the God is the only creator. In this religion, the belief is that humans must respect God as the only creator and do nothing to try and ape Him. Some of the Muslims consider reproductive cloning as a way to modify what is not meant to be. However, some of them see this as a way from God. This is because they believe God gave us the brains so that we could think and find ways to our problems. Dr. Abdulhaziz Sachedina (University of Virginia) said from an Islam view that "Nevertheless, the Qur'an takes into account the problem of human arrogance which takes the form of rejection of God's frequent reminders to humanity that God's immutable laws are dominant in the nature and human beings cannot willfully create "unless God, the Lord of all Being, wills." (81:29) "The will of God" in the Qur'an has often been interpreted as the "processes of nature not interfered with by human action." Hence, in Islam human manipulation of genes made possible by biotechnical intervention in the early stages of life in order to improve the health of the fetus or cloning in the meaning of embryo splitting for the purpose of improving the chances of fertility for a married couple is regarded as an act of faith in the ultimate will of God as the Giver of all life."10 (Holland, 2001).
According to the Jewish ethicists, their opinions on the cloning process vary differently. There is a fairly big common thought that the process is justified and it is ethical. Most of the Jewish believe that the embryo is not similar to the status of the human being. There is a commandment in the bible that seeks to encourage healing. Some of the Jews believe that therapeutic cloning is deemed ethical in the sense that it protects human life and acts in protecting God's creation. The catholic are one of the oldest religions in the world. This religion banned cloning. It described it as being unethical and stated that the benefits of this process are still not clear. The Catholic Church teaches that this cloning process is immoral regardless of the said benefits it brings along. Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua had sought to urge the House to put in place the Human Cloning Prohibition Act. He criticized the cloning bill saying it degraded the human beings.
The human cloning may have a lot of benefits to offer in what it entails. However, this process has been seen by many as being unethical as it destroys the true meaning of life. This thoughts and arguments about this program to reproduce life has been the main point of contention with many seeing this human cloning as being unethical and a law to prohibit it should be put in place.