The Human Cloning Debate

In a case of the future becoming the present, one of the most pressing scientific concerns of the day has to do with human cloning and how it might be achieved. While identical twins are a form of cloning, much of the debate centers around the use of stem cell research to create a new person using a single cell from a host. This is often called artificial human cloning and men have thought seriously about the potential for such an operation for over half a century. Joshua Lederberg was one of the pioneers of human cloning in the 1960s and formed one side of the debate about the ethics of cloning with James D. Watson heading the opposition.

There are actually two main types of cloning that have been debated. The first is called therapeutic cloning and refers to the process of using mature adult cells from a human body that have been replicated for use in other medical concerns. This type of human cloning is being researched now and may have a use in future medical treatments. The other type of cloning is called reproductive cloning and bears more of a resemblance to the common idea of creating a person from a single cell. Many countries of the world have outlawed this type of human cloning and there have been no successful experiments of this type.

In the United States, the debate over the ethics of cloning has not yielded any laws or legislation relating to the practice. The federal government has had laws on the table several times that would ban both therapeutic and reproductive types of cloning but they have never passed the Senate. While the federal government has not been able to come up with a consensus about the cloning issue, a total of thirteen states have outlawed reproductive cloning and others have limited the experiments to only private organizations.