Is cloning a human being — within reach?
Suddenly, the possibility of a creating a human being whose genetic material is identical to a living being is no longer strictly science fiction. Since the "Dolly" breakthrough (1996), multiple attempts have been launched by scientists to apply the animal cloning technology to the human species.
Assuming that one day, perhaps sooner than we expect, making an exact genetic duplicate will be possible, here are some of the questions that might arise:
• Is it human cloning ethical? Sacrilegious?
• Is it safe? (Dolly aged prematurely)
• What will happen to bi-sexual reproduction? Is it possible that males will become obsolete?
• Is cloning an aging pet right and if so — what is the difference between cloning a pet and cloning a human?*
• Cloning a dying/dead only child by desperately bereft parents — right or wrong?*
• Cloning of an infertile person — kosher?*
• Cloning of a single person, man or woman, who refuses to use a stranger's sperm or an egg — unreasonable?*
* issues brought up in Misconception
Addendum: Human Cloning literary, cinematic and humoristic references:
"...the Director wheeled sharply round, 'can't you see, can't you see?' He raised a hand; his expression solemn. "Bokanovsky's Process is one of the major instruments of social stability... Ninety-six identical twins working ninety-six identical machines!... You really know where you are. For the first time in history." He quoted the planetary motto: 'Community, Identity, Stability.' Grand words. 'If we could bokanovskyify indefinitely, the whole problem would be solved' ...standard Gammas, unvarying Deltas, uniform epsilons...'but alas,' the Director shook his head, 'we can't Bokanofsify indefinitely.' "
(Huxley A. A Brave New World. 1955)
"Bokanovskification" was Huxley's derogatory term for cloning. Back then, and even later in 1976, when Ira Levin's book, Boys from Brazil, in which clones of Hitler were bred in order to rekindle the Nazi enterprise, human cloning was perceived as evil, yet totally unrealistic.
And then came 1996. Dolly-the sheep was cloned. As Stephen Jay Gould noted, Dolly was "the most famous member of her species since John the Baptist designated Jesus as the Lamb of God" (SJ Gould, The Sciences 1997; Sept-Oct:14).
And yes, the media loves the puns:
"An Udder Way of Making Lambs."
"Send in the Clones."
"Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?"
"Will There Ever Be Another Ewe?'
Cloning humor has sprouted like rapidly dividing embryo cells after Dolly. Writer Wendy Wasserstein wondered what you might say to your shrink if you were your own mother (NY Times Feb 27, 1997)?
And a London Guardian cartoonist portrayed a woman comforting a cab driver who had just run over her husband: "That's alright. I have another one upstairs!"