.. bes, where it travels to the uterus (Leone, Reproductive 13). Another method, “gamete intrafallopian transfer” (GIFT), is done by injecting sperm and an unfertilized egg into a fallopian tube, at which time conception and implantation will occur (Leone, Reproductive 13). Lastly is the “zona cracking” method. This technique involves piercing the outer layer of the egg and placing a single sperm cell within the egg, then embedding the fertilized egg into the woman (Leone, Reproductive 13). There is yet another well-known fashion for infertile couples to conceive a child – surrogate motherhood.
In this process, the fertilized egg of one woman is allowed to develop in the womb of another. Surrogate motherhood has its benefits. It allows a woman who faces a high-risk pregnancy have a child without jeopardizing her own health, and lessens the chances of premature birth. Surrogate motherhood also gives non-traditional families, such as single or homosexual parents, an opportunity to raise their own descendents (Leone, Reproductive 81). Opponents of reproductive technology argue that the solution to infertility is adoption. However, adoption can be very difficult and expense.
Also, some feel they would not be able to love a child that is not their own offspring (Leone, Reproductive 50). Progress has been made in the field of genetically testing unborn children, also. Almost nine of every ten pregnant women have undergone some sort of prenatal screening (Golden 56). Most often, this is done to detect spina bifida, nueral defects, and Down syndrome (Golden 57). Furthermore, prenatal testing has reduced by more that ninety-five percent the number of Tay-Sachs births in American Jews (Golden 58).
Many couples also opt for a sex determination test. However, in a nation such as China or India, where males are favored over females, what will happen if parents begin actively producing an unbalanced number of males? Boys, like first-born children, are often dominant and aggressive. It will be even more difficult to dispel gender-based customs if society is filled with dominant, first-born males; and submissive, obedient females (Lemonick 66). Because religion plays such a huge role in the lives of many Americans, this aspect must also be considered. According to the Roman Catholic Church, in-vitro fertilization is “morally illicit,” and considered sin (Leone, Reproductive 34). The church objects to the fact that children may now be conceived in the absence of a sexual act between a married couple (Leone, Reproductive 34).
Yet another cause for concern is the technology that entitles post-menopausal woman to give birth. A bitter debate over this issue was ignited when a fifty-nine-year-old British woman gave birth to twins. This was made possible through artificial conception (Leone, Reproductive 53). The chief question in this controversy is whether or not the parents will be able to raise the child. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at the University of Minnesota, summed up these feelings when he asked, “Is it right to intentionally create children if you know that both parents are likely to be entering a nursing home before the kid is in elementary school?” (qtd.
in Leone, Reproductive 53) Women are now able to give birth to four, five, six, or more children through reproductive technology. Is this safe for the children? Children who are the products of multiple birth cases are more likely to be small and premature. There is also a four hundred percent increase in the risk of cerebral palsy. Lastly, older mothers are more likely to give birth to an infant with developmental brain damage (Multiple 1). Is it morally right to endorse a situation that may result in an unhealthy child? There is also an area of study dealing with fetal tissue research. Scientists in Scotland can now deliver a baby mouse created from the egg of an aborted mice fetus, and will soon be able to achieve this with humans (Leone, Reproductive 22). Immature eggs can also be collected from a female fetus as early as the ninth week, aged in a petri dish, and be used to create another child (Leone, Reproductive 38). Fetal tissue research has had its positive effects.
Doctors have been able to extract brain cells from aborted fetuses, inserted them into the brains of Alzheimer’s victims, and cure or nearly cure the patient. The application biotechnology on humans is not limited to engineering and reproductive technologies. The frightening truth is that scientific experiments are often performed on American citizens. Perhaps the most gruesome example of this act was during World War II. Nazi scientists performed various tests analyzing the effects of cold, mustard gas, and phosphorous burns on the human body (McCuen 22).
During World War II, Japanese scientists were also involved in this horrid practice. One old farmer described his human experimentation experience; where he dissected a young man still alive, bound to a bed, without anesthetic. “The fellow knew that it was over for him and so he didn’t struggle when they led him into the room and tied him down. But when I picked up the scalpel, that’s when he began screaming. I cut him open from the chest to the stomach and he screamed terribly and his face was all twisted in agony.
He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped. This was all in a day’s work for the surgeon’s, but it really left an impression on me because it was my first time..” (qtd. in McCuen 39) Is human experimentation limited to savage, foreign countries? Unfortunately not. The United States government itself sponsored several thousand human radiation experiments between 1944 and 1974 (United 10). Another example of human experimentation in this country is the Tuskegee Experiment.
This was one of the largest know surveys on the effects of untreated syphilis on male Negroes. The controversy over this test erupted when it was made know that patients were denied the option of treatment once penicillin became widely available (Mccuen 49). The United States military has also been extensively involved in human experimentation. In one program, biological and chemical agents were released over highly populated areas such as Hawaii, Alaska, San Francisco, St. Louis, Minneapolis, and more (McCuen 83).
In 1945, seventeen-year-old Navy recruit Rudolph R. Mills volunteered for a gas mask experiment. Little did he know, the test mask he was wearing became less effective with each use. Mills wore the same mask almost a dozen times for an hour each time the test was performed. Mills was left with burns on his chin and cheeks (McCuen 100). There are regulations to how far researchers can go in their explorations into human experimentation.
The Nurembourg Code, which was put into place after World War II, demands the voluntary consent of human subjects during experimentation. It also states that “the degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined by the humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment” (McCuen 22). Finally, perhaps the most recently developed, controversial bioethical dispute: cloning. The process of cloning is incredibly complex. Scientists remove the nucleus from a mammary cell and place it into an egg cell that has been removed of its DNA. The cell is then starved of nutrients, the nucleus and donor egg are fused with an electrical charge, and implanted into a surrogate mother (Leone, Biomedical 16).
When Ian Wilmut cloned Dolly the sheep in 1997, a tremendous uproar ensued. The National Bioethics Advisory Committee recommended a five-year moratorium on human cloning so that the technology and ethics of such an undertaking could further be studied (Leone, Biomedical 13). As this is such an enormous cultural and social topic, the pros and cons of today’s cloning technology must be painstakingly considered. First, a look at the benefits of cloning. Proponents of human cloning have several reasons for having the view they do. One justification for human cloning is what many deem “spare parts.” If doctors were able to harvest organs from patients in need, the organ shortage could be severely reduced.
In addition, patients would no longer require taking medication their entire lives to avoid rejection of the new organ (Yount 90). Scientists could also grow hearts and livers from pigs that would be compatible to humans (Clone 10). Another benefit of cloning is what it could do to the pharmaceutical industry. Drug companies will be able to clone proteins from animal milk for the treatment of hemophilia (Clone 10). Japan has become notably progressive in its use of cloning technology.
Japanese researchers have developed to prototypes of cloned cattle – ES1 and ES2. These cattle are only the beginning of Japan’s venture into using advanced biotechnology to rouse its sluggish beef industry. Researchers in Japan have already perfected methods to clone potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, orchids, and goldfish (Brave 12). It has been said that to clone a human will strip away the very essence of humanity. This is not true, say some advocates of human cloning. Personality traits are a complicated interaction between many genes and the individual’s unique environment.
One cannot expect a gene to work how its “label” says (Leone, Biomedical 30). Human cloning also occurs randomly in nature – with identical twins (Madigan et al.). Yet nobody argues that twins are not individuals and are mutations of nature. Even twins kept in the same room will react differently to various things. For clones, this would be even greater because of their divergence in years (Leone, Biomedical 48). No matter what you clone, you cannot clone two exact brains.
The cloning of a human being would also end the argument over genetics or environment once and for all. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa is one of those who believe cloning research should be allowed to evolve without restriction. He states that those who would put an end to cloning should “take your ranks alongside Pope Paul V, who in 1616 tried to stop Galileo” (qtd. in Leone, Biomedical 14). Many would be inclined to agree with him, including a long list of influential American and international figures.
This list includes such scholars and humanists as Sergei Kapitz, chair of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology; Indumati Parikh, Indian reformer and activist; W.V. Quine, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Harvard; and Kurt Vonnegut, novelist (Madigan et al.) There is another serious side to this debate, which also deserves equal focus. The negative aspects of cloning also weigh heavily on many consciences. One argument is that in order to achieve one normal human specimen from cloning, a number of deformed or handicapped children will be produced. This theory is based on the fact that of 277 attempts to clone a sheep, only one acceptable copy was actualized (Leone, Biomedical 14). Another fear is the suspicion that if we are able to change the genetic makeup of an organism and clone it, will someone, somewhere, attempt to clone an entire race of lower-caste, human slaves (Madigan et al.)? Or, looking at it from another angle, will it be possible to engineer and clone an entire generation of superior beings? Many conclude that that argument is inadmissible, because the concept of defining superiority through genetics is nearly impossible (Leone, Biomedical 30).
A quick glance at the list of those opposing the continuation of human cloning research reveals several world leaders, including President Bill Clinton of the United States, President Jacques Chirac of France, former Prime Minister John Major of Great Britain, and the Vatican in Rome (Madigan et al.) The Vatican in Rome. A commanding force to be reckoned with in the debate over moral and ethic issues. Numerous religions around the world have publicly announced their opinion of cloning; and, for the most part, they do not favor the practice. Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, an Islamic scholar at the University of Virginia, declared cloning to be in violation of Islamic teaching about the family legacy and said that it eliminates the sanctioned role of fathers in procreating children (Madigan et al.).
A recent conference of Roman Catholic bishops announced that cloning is “intristically morally wrong,” an attempt to “play god,” and it “exceeds the limits of the delegated dominion given to the human race” (qtd. in Madigan et al.). One Protestant scholar, Gilbert Meilander, said that cloning is immoral because the reason for the clone’s existence “would be grounded in our own will and desires” (qtd. in Madigan et al.). There are many reasons for the Church’s hostility toward cloning; however, three prominent reasons emerge most often.
The first of these is that cloning is an attempt to “play god.” Now this argument was also used against birth control, organ transplants and assisted deaths. Many proponents of cloning believe that religious leaders use this excuse anytime people attempt to control their own lives (Madigan et al.). This does not however, make it wrong or misleading. Should there be a barrier that determines how deep into human life scientists can go? The next widespread argument is that cloning is not natural. It has been said that cloning separates reproduction and intercourse (Madigan et al.).
Religious leaders believe that conception should be a moral, loving act between a married couple. Lastly, there is the theory that by cloning a human, we deny that person their uniqueness and dignity. By giving a cell a “used” set of genes, churches conclude, scientists are robbing that person of singularity and the right to be one-of-a-kind. There are two arguments to refute this. First, DNA, as well as environment, shapes one’s personality (Madigan et al.) Also, the fact that clones can be found in nature on a regular basis, with identical twins.
This violent debate between religion and science is not likely to end soon. The basic fact is, everyone must form their own set of morals and ethics. One’s outlook determines the side one will take in such debates. It may be based on personal experience, religious beliefs, or occupation. My personal philosophy is that if we, as a progressive society, ever hope to achieve the things that were once looked upon as lunatic science fiction, we must be willing to dig as deep as technology allows us. There are so many amazing new discoveries to be made, inside our bodies and out.
This technology WILL be put to use by someone, whether for good or for evil. Why not use as much as possible now for society’s benefit, before the science is forever barred? Let’s get what we can out of it, instead of letting it get into the wrong hands.