Raelism and Science: Debate about Human Cloning
As far as anyone knows, scientists have yet to clone a human being. For more than 20 years, cloning has been the center of a long, ethical debate between Raelians and scientists. The arguments of the debate range from exposing the views that weight the moral issues involved in cloning against the potential benefits that embryonic cell research may bring; to considering or not considering the embryo as a human being with human dignity and human rights. The word “clone” comes from the ancient Greek word klōn, which means “twig”. As stated in the Cambridge English Dictionary, a clone is defined as a cell or organism that has the exact same chemical patterns in its cells as the original from which it was artificially produced. Although there are no federal laws against cloning in the United States, 7 countries in the world prohibit it, 30 countries ban it for reproductive purposes, and 10 states only allow it for biomedical research. When it comes to America, according to a new survey by Johns Hopkins University, two-thirds of the people approve the use of genetic cloning to help parents have a healthy baby free of any genetic disorder, but more than 70% of Americans are against using such techniques to design children to be smarter or more attractive, and 76% are against working on ways to clone humans. Although the human cloning ethical debate is still going on, this technique has been proven to be ethically problematic in terms of human rights infringement, confusing identity issues with the originals, and technical and medical safety. The thoughts of identity theft or eventual loss of diversity due to cloning are legitimate concerns and therefore require focus.
Raelism, also known as the Raelian Movement, is believed to be the world’s largest UFO-type religious movement. It was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, who was also known as ‘Rael’. The Raelians are strong supporters of cloning, they believe cloning was commanded by the aliens, who first cloned all the human beings. Chemist Brigitte Boisselier, president of the biotech company Clonaid, is a member of the Order of Angels of the Raelian religious cult, whose prophet Rael says 4-ft.-tall green space aliens visited him 30 years ago in a French volcano and revealed that all of us are descended from the clones they planted here 25,000 years ago. With Boisselier’s announcement of a miracle baby named Eve and the group’s subsequent claim of a second cloned birth, the most important debate in morals and medicine is delivered into such hands to take care of. Raelians’ main point is that embryonic cells can turn into any kind of cell in the body, therefore the embryos could hold the secret of cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. Timothy Caulfield, the research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta, also denounces, “You don’t ban fertilizer because you can use it to make bombs. Don’t ban cloning because it may be abused. What we should do is regulate the activities that may be abused, like human reproductive cloning.” giving to the Raelian views a more well-founded and reliable look.
On the other hand, scientists and experts argue that cloning’s use for research is unethical and should be strictly prohibited. Nevertheless, some experts argue, that a total cloning ban would impel top U.S. scientists to move overseas, where there is more public support. For example, Britain banned reproductive cloning but is allowing therapeutic research to move forward. Moreover, even though European countries unanimously agree that reproductive cloning should be prohibited, there is no agreement to be found on whether or not research into therapeutic cloning should be permitted. For this reason, many scientists are conflicted on whether to approve cloning or not. As reported above, the Raelians argue that embryonic cells can turn into any kind of cell in the body, making it possible for them to hold the secret of cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other diseases. As Dr. Robert Lanza, medical director of Advanced Cell Technology, states ‘No one wants to see 100 copies of Madonna or Michael Jordan. But it would be tragic if this outrage spills over into legitimate medical research that could cure millions of patients.’
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