Scientific research is one of the predominant approaches to obtaining information about the world. Scientists often conduct this research by following a prescribed series of steps known as the scientific method, which they use to perform experiments in order to prove the validity of their proposed hypotheses. For many years, however, it has been debated whether there should be limits to the topics of scientific research. Scientific progress is often thought of as requiring a critical mind, free of prejudice and open to new ways of thinking. Yet, does that mean the scientific community can endorse the research of controversial topics such as cloning, stem-cell research, and animal testing, despite their cost, which is often the loss of a potential or actual life? The scientific community should place ethical limits on research as there are numerous religious, physical, and moral issues associated with certain issues; especially since there are acceptable, less controversial alternatives.
The topic of cloning has caused much upheaval among scientists and religious communities as it is thought to interfere with the regular course of nature, and as such, should be banned from scientific exploration. Cloning disrupts the natural reproductive process, upsetting Roman Catholics and Evangelical Christians. In normal sexual reproduction, the organism obtains half its genes from one parents and half form the other. Cloning, however, involves making duplicates of biological material. While this process may sound similar to typical asexual reproduction, it is quite different; asexual reproduction takes place under natural conditions while cloning is performed in a controlled environment outside of a living organism and molecular biological and genetic engineering techniques are often used.
This key distinction between the two processes is what makes people question the ethics of cloning, and whether it goes against religion. For roman Catholics, this question was answered when the “Donum Vitae” was issued in 1987. The document addressed biomedical issues from the Roman Catholic Church’s perspective. Roman Catholics were told that cloning was “considered contrary to the moral law, since (it is in) opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union” (Sullivan).
Further, in 2008, Pope Benedict XVI condemned cloning and experimentation that involved the destruction of embryos saying ‘when human beings in the weakest and most defenseless stage of their existence are selected, abandoned, killed or used as pure ‘biological matter’, how can it be denied that they are no longer being treated as ‘someone’ but as ‘something.” Religion is often thought of as an overarching concept that people can look to in times of need. Yet, by researching cloning, scientists continue to insult religious followers by trying to disprove one of the key principles of Christianity and Roman Catholics, the idea that G-d is not the giver of life. The price of continuing this research is not worth escalating arguments between religious and scientific communities, and thus, the researching of cloning should not be continued.
Cloning can also have negative effects on animal populations as it restricts the gene pool. One of the desirable traits of cloning is the idea of cloning cattle with favorable traits. The result would be “better” animals that can be sold for a larger profit. By cloning organisms, however, we run the risk of lessening the genetic variation that results without it. If the original organism was susceptible to a certain disease, a whole flock of cloned animals would be wiped out just as easily because they are genetically identical. Furthermore, if these cloned organisms reproduce naturally, there is a higher chance that theur offspring will have lethal gentic disorders.
Cloning human embryos can lead to the exploitation of women. Human cloning requires oocytes, to be collected from women, a process with significant medical risks that inherently exploits and commodifies women’s bodies. Unlike some forms of human embryo research which utilizes embryos donated by fertility patients, cloning for biomedical research involves the manufacturing of embryos. Collecting the oocytes, cells in a woman’s ovary, requires scienitsits to stimulate the ovaries to release more than one egg cell during ovulation, a process known as superovulation. To trigger their bodies to go into superovulation, women are prescribed hormones that are unsafe to their bodies.
This procedure can result in a condition called ovarian hyper-stimulation, a syndrome which causes their ovaries to become swollen. The surgical procedure used to extract the eggs also poses risks of pelvic infections and injuries, and internal bleeding. Due to these dangerous possibilities associated with obtaining these eggs, scientist have trouble finding women willing to undergo the onerous procedures necessary to provide eggs. Nonetheless, these eggs are necessary for the continuation of the research. As such, this demand for women’s eggs, could create “an unseemly market” where low-income women volunteer to undergo the process in exchange for payment. (3).