Cloning Humans

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his
nostrilsthe breath of life; and man became a livingsoul . . . and He took one of
his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord

God had taken from man, made He a woman and brought her unto man." -Genesis

2:7 21-22 Human cloning is becoming one of the most controversial topics of our
time. With recent technological breakthroughs, whole new fields are opening with
amazing possibilities. Despite the great advantages that cloning can offer
humanity, there are just as many negative aspects of the technology, which have
given way to large anti-cloning groups who are gaining ground as to the future
of this awesome power. In truth, cloning could very well be the best, or worst
thing ever to happen to mankind. The possibilities of human cloning are vast
indeed, but research in the area has been dramatically restricted in the United

States and in some other countries. Pro-life groups that oppose free access to
abortion have considerable political power, and were able to have all human
embryo research banned by the Reagan and Bush administrations in most of the

1980’s and the 1990’s (religoustolerance). Although the ban was lifted
during the first days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, in 1997 he sent a bill to
congress marked "immediate consideration and prompt enactment" stating that
it would be illegal to create a human clone whether in private or public
laboratories. Along with the US ban, nineteen European countries including

Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg,

Moldova, Sweden, Macedonia, and Turkey, signed a protocol that would commit
their countries to ban by law any intervention seeking to create human beings
genetically identical to another human being, whether living or dead. It rules
out any exception to the ban, even in the case of a completely sterile couple.

Britain and Germany however, did not sign this agreement. Germany claims that
the protocol would be weaker than the anti-research laws they already have,
while Britain strongly supports their decision to enforce freedom. French
president Jaques Chirac stated that "Nothing will be resolved by banning
certain practices in one country if scientists and doctors can simply work them
elsewhere." Despite all these obstacles, Dr. Richard Seed, a strong supporter
of human cloning, caused uproar when he announced his plans to set up a clinic
to clone human babies for infertile couples (CNN). We may not know the
individual or team who first performed cloning of human embryos, but the methods
used have been understood for many years and actually used to clone embryos of
cattle and sheep. It is likely this has already been successfully used on human
embryos in secret. Robert J. Stillman and his team at the George Washington

Medical Center in Washington D.C. took 17 flawed human embryos, which had been
derived from an ovum that had been fertilized by two sets of sperm resulting in
an extra set of chromosomes, and dooming the ovum\'s future. The cells would have
eventually died no matter how they were treated. Stillman’s experiment showed
that the best results could be obtained by interrupting the zygote at the
two-cell stage, separating the cells, and placing them in separate dishes as to
allow them to begin growing again. Many of these pairs were able to develop to
the 32-cell stage, but no further. They might have had the potential to develop
further and even mature into a viable fetus, except the original ovum was
defective and would have died anyway. For ethical reasons, the researchers
selected embryos that had no possibility of ever maturing. The main motive of
the experiment seems to have been to trigger public debate on the ethics of
human cloning (religioustolerance). Dr. Steven Muller headed a panel in the US
whose mandate was to produce preliminary cloning guidelines. These would be used
by the federal National Institute of Health to decide which cloning research to
fund. The panel recommended that studies be limited to the use of embryos that
developed during in vitro fertilization procedures that had been performed to
assist couples in conceiving. Often, extra zygotes are produced that are either
discarded or frozen for possible future use. They further recommended that any
studies be terminated within fourteen days of conception. At that gestational
age, neural cord closure begins; this is the start the development of nervous
system. The scientific community had deemed the actual act of cloning a mammal
impossible, until Dr. Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland
achieved it