Cloning has been an ethical and moral issue since the idea was first developed. There are many uses for investigating into this technology and many diseases that can be cured once the technology is understood. However, many of the methods in which the technology is developed and many of the uses of the technology destroy lives and only do harm. Much good can come from cloning and stem cell research, but we must be careful as to how we use this powerful technology.
A stem cell is an unspecified cell that can regenerate itself and also turn into more specific types of cells that do more specific functions in the body (skin cells and blood cells for example). Since these cells have the ability to turn into any type of cell in the human body, they have the potential to be very useful. Medically it may one day be possible to cure many diseases, and reproduce human organs for transplant using stem cells. The benefits of using stem cells are innumerable, however, the means for obtaining the cells is very controversial. The cells have to be taken from a human embryo, the earliest stage of human development.
The cells are obtained by joining a human egg and sperm, and creating an embryo. The embryo is stopped from developing into a human so that it's stem cells can be used. This is where the controversy begins, is it ethical to stop the embryo from developing into a human being, to benefit those who are already living? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to clearly define what life is and in what way it is acceptable or unacceptable to control it.
Life is considered to be any form of cells that will eventually become a human being by the Church, including a lump of stem cells that is formed during any cloning process. However, to the Law of the United States, an embryo isn't human until the moment of birth. This is one of the main points of discrepancy between the opinions of the Church and the U.S. Government. If all parties believed that life began at the same point, the moral and ethical issues involved with cloning and stem cell research would be a non-issue.
At the present, there are two main types, or reasons, to use the cloning technology, reproductive cloning and therapeutic cloning. Reproductive cloning involves a direct copy of the DNA of a person, to create a new human completely artificially. Therapeutic cloning involves stopping the cloned embryo in it's early stages to extract and use the stem cells for various medical reasons. Neither of these types of cloning have been perfected, or used widely on humans. Much research in the United States is met with heated debate over the issues associated with it.
It is widely agreed that reproductive cloning should be banned internationally. This form of cloning bypasses the usual movement and combining of genes that produces a unique individual, having predictable negative effects on the human gene pool. Dolly the sheep, who was cloned from...