Cloning is the act of creating an organism from a single unfertilized cell, resulting in an exact genetic duplicate of the donor cell. It is a legitimate practice when used with non-human life and can result in many beneficial medical treatments and scientific advancements. It can even be used legitimately to, for instance, generate human tissues or organs that might be used for transplant or grafting.
However, cloning of human beings is gravely immoral. It is damaging to the child created by such means both physically and spiritually. It is also morally evil because it reduces human beings to being the product of a manufacturing process instead of children born of the love of two parents. It even makes human beings potentially “patentable” with the real possibility of being legally reduced to property.
There is real scientific evidence that cloning is physically harmful to the cloned organism. The cells in our bodies do not live forever but age as we do. Cells from adult donors are already “old”. Organisms that are cloned from such cells have a likelihood of premature death and other medical problems. Dolly, the first cloned sheep, suffered from premature arthritis and only lived about half the lifespan of a normal sheep.
More than this, however, is the simple fact that every human person has intrinsic dignity and worth. This means that a human being has the intrinsic right to be treated like a person and not as a thing—a product of manufacturing.
It is wrong to treat persons as things or as means to some other end. Therefore, it is wrong to manufacture human persons in order to try to make the life of another human person better. Cloning is the attempt to make human beings “to order” not for their own good but for various uses. Some uses may seem good, such as giving children to childless couples. But it is still using the child as the means to an end and therefore insulting his dignity since it reduces the child to a possession and a kind of acquisition. Other children will be cloned for more sinister purposes, such as “harvesting” of cells and tissues, resulting in their deaths. Both outcomes do violence to the human person because they fundamentally alter the child from a person to a thing to be owned or destroyed according to the whim of the manufacturer. In the case of children cloned for “industrial use” in medical harvesting labs, the violence will always be deadly.
The dignity and worth of a human being comes from our uniquely human capacity to participate in things of ultimate significance – like love, truth, justice, beauty, and home. People of faith would translate this by saying that the worth of human beings is grounded in the unconditional love that God has for each of us.
Advocates of cloning try to justify it for a variety of reasons. While many of these reasons sound reasonable and compassionate, cloning of human beings always damages children. It also damages the men and women who reduce them to things, even those who do so for “good intentions”. There are always better alternatives to cloning. Parents who desire children can adopt. Medical researchers can clone tissues without cloning human beings. And every act of cloning a person violates the most fundamental and universal principles of reason, ethics, and justice which are necessary for civilizations to survive, and which have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years.