What does Mother Nature think about cloning?

In my opinion, one of the most frightening aspects of human cloning is that it is so unnatural. Thinking about copying my DNA and producing another human being with my identical genetic make up gives me the heebie-jeebies.

Yet I spent half of my pre-adolescent years wishing I had a twin like Mary-Kate and Ashley.  The idea that identical twins share the exact same DNA never occurred to me. It never creeped me out when I met twins.  Rather, it fascinated me.

Granted, identical twins are not the exact same as clones.  They occur without any outside intervention as an egg splits during the cell division process, and then they typically grow up as siblings in the same household (except for Annie and Hallie in The Parent Trap). However, on a basic level, they are two different people with the exact same DNA — essentially they are clones produced naturally.

So I have to wonder… Are identical twins just random accidents in nature, just as the DNA mutations that lead to Tay Sachs and breast cancer?  Or is there some sort of evolutionary purpose for twins?  If some natural reason exists to copy one’s DNA, maybe that could provide insight for the ethical debates over cloning.

I am certainly no evolutionary theory expert, and I can’t find much concrete information about my question.  My best guess after some surfing on the Web is that it is advantageous to have as many offspring as possible. The human body cannot easily handle multiple births though, so twins remain rare.

However, multiple births do not necessarily equate to identical twins. Dogs have litters of ten to fifteen puppies, which are mostly fraternal twins.  The reason nature randomly produces two identical people remains a mystery to me, but I still think twins can contribute to the cloning debate.

Identical twins are living proof that every single human has a unique soul, just as identical twin Susan Reed explained in Time magazine. Aside from many destined similarities, identical twins have different desires, different spouses, and different feelings. I see no reason to believe that clones would be any different.

It is inevitable that clones would develop their own souls, which greatly complicates the idea of breeding them for the sole purpose of organ donation. Though parents and siblings may not form emotional attachment to a clone that grows up completely removed from their personal world, someone will.

Unless the clone grows up in a completely isolated cell, he or she will form relationships with the other humans he or she interacts with, as the characters do in Never Let Me Go. Just as it feels tragic when Kathy H. must say goodbye to her beloved Tommy, someone is always going to get hurt when a human being dies or is put in a hazardous physical condition.

To me, twins prove the fascinating nature of humans to develop souls, which in turn makes the idea of cloning for organ donation and scientific research a threatening emotional situation.

-Laura D.

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~ by lauradolbow on February 14, 2010.

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