The idea of cloning has made its way into the popular imagination through movies and books (i.e. Brave New World, “Star Wars”, and “The Matrix”). It has grabbed our curiosity, fascination, and wonder at the world we would live in if humans could be cloned. What most (if not all) of the movies fail to do is to explain the moral dilemma (or the natural repugnance) with this idea. Getting back to reality, though…who remembers Dolly, the first cloned lamb? Or, more importantly…who remembers the creator of Dolly?
Englishman Ian Wilmut, the creator of Dolly, said that the idea of cloning a human being was “offensive.” What makes cloning offensive and why would there be any moral dilemma in cloning? Leon Kass, physician, intellectual, scientist, teacher, and ethicist, wrote an article entitled, “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” detailing the problem of human cloning. What follows is a condensed summary of his thoughts:
Human cloning entails creating a human being asexually. Asexual reproduction is contra-nature, unnatural, and in the end, dehumanizing. Human cloning will give a new meaning to sexuality, family, motherhood, fatherhood, and the vital connection between generations. Put bluntly, cloning would break down the social construction of our society.
With the sexual revolution, contraception, abortion, and genetic testing, our desire for control with sexual reproduction have drastically increased. We choose when we want to have children. We can choose if we want a child with a genetic disorder, or even what gender the baby will be. Through technology, power and control are at our fingertips. Cloning is the epitome of power and control. The perfect child, chosen by you, with no genetic disorders or diseases. The feeling of controlling the future is intoxicating. The more control we have, the more we want. We don’t tend to look carefully at the consequences when we are in this state of mind.
Leon Kass rightly points the finger at the problem when he asserts, “The programmed reproduction of man will, in fact, dehumanize him.” It is a part of the human experience to have sexual relations, to become pregnant by means of intercourse, and to give birth to a child. Advocates of cloning will argue that this technology falls under reproductive rights. After the sexual revolution, people have the right to have sex outside of marriage, engage in homosexuality, abortion on demand, the pill all coupled with access to different methods of getting pregnant. These rights will inevitably include cloning, for what right does the government have to make a law saying I can’t have a child in an unconventional way?
Human cloning, however, is purely man-made and man-manipulated.
Cloning takes away from the human experience. It takes the anticipation out of having children. Power and control will feed the new parental despots of society. By creating a clone who is predisposed to being excellent in math, the guardians of that child will naturally push that child into doing activities revolving around mathematics. Parents living vicariously through their children would be taken to a whole new level. There would be a generation of people whose identity and relationships would be grossly stunted.