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A Cloning Plan that Raises Ethical Issues

Pro-life advocates have expressed their views on stem cell research as being unethical. However, Professor Ian Wilmut, who successfully cloned Dolly the Sheep, has persistently pushed forward in his r
( [email protected] ) Jul 27, 2005 09:52 PM EDT

Pro-life advocates have expressed their views on stem cell research as being unethical. However, Professor Ian Wilmut, the creator of the first cloned animal to survive to adulthood—Dolly the Sheep, has persistently pushed forward in his research to clone a human embryo.

Prof Wilmut asked Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) for permission to ask woman to donate their ova for experimental purposes.

Pro-lifers, on the other side, have illustrated that furthering human cloning would require thousands of ova, citing the rate of failure to produce a viable embryo and recalling that Dolly the sheep was successful after 277 failed attempts.

In addition, many believe that it is morally wrong for scientists to ask women to donate their eggs for scientific research. Some are worried that women, who are economically disadvantaged, would feel pressured to donate their ova for a financial incentive.

Despite this, Prof. Wilmut told the Guardian that he feels confident that women will donate to his cause because of the intent of his research, which is to find a cure for the degenerating, motor neurone disease.

"Our hope and belief is that women who have seen the devastating effect of this disease will be prepared to make such a donation," he told the Guardian.

Scientists in Britain, up to this point, have been using spare eggs that were rejected from the IVF process from fertility treatments. They said that these eggs are in such poor condition that they don’t often survive.

From the Scottish Church's society, Donald Bruce strongly expressed that researchers who want a certain type of egg are turning "the egg and women into commodities. They become just a link in a process."

A spokeswomen for the HFEA said that there is nothing in the guidelines that prevent women from donating their eggs, but permission would be granted if it is approved by an independent ethics committee and the HFEA's licensing group, reported the Guardian.