Legal Aspects of Human Cloning - A Reaction to Spranger

- K.K. Verma, Ph.D.
Retd. Professor of Zoology, HIG I/327, Housing Board Colony,
Borsi, Durg, M.P., 491001, INDIA
Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 12 (2002), 30.

Dr. Spranger has analysed in detail the problem of human cloning from the legal viewpoint (see the July 2001 issue of EJAIB). One aspect of the problem, however remains to be discussed. This communication is to invite attention to this aspect.

Almost all nation states have banned human cloning. As Spranger has rightly pointed out, the ban is mostly guided by ethical rather than legal considerations. This situation is especially clear in the UNESCO's Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights. In Art. 7 of the Declaration it has been said, "Practices which are contrary to human dignity, such as reproductive cloning of human beings, shall not be permitted ....".

But in some cases practicing human cloning would not be contrary to human rights and dignity. To bring home this point Spranger cites the case of a childless couple. In such a case to deny cloning would be violating individual rights; hence cloning in this situation should be permitted.

There is, however another facet of this problem in the above described situation. The cloned child is likely to be treated as a queer in the society, as he has not been a product of the natural reproductive process. In this context one may point out the case of babies produced through i.v.f. (= in vitro fertilisation). It was feared that they would not become well-adjusted members of the society. But now there are hundreds of children, produced by this technique, all over the world, and in general they have become well incorporated in the society. Will clones also be well received in the society in due course?

Perhaps products of cloning will not be well received in the society in foreseeable future, as cloning is a wide deviation from the normal and natural human reproduction, while i.v.f. is only a small modification of the natural reproductive process. People are getting better educated, and now clinicians prefer to talk to people frankly about technicalities of their treatment, lest misconceptions may prevail. If under these conditions clones are taken as queers, will it be not violation of their rights and dignity? This aspect of the problem too deserves serious consideration.

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