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Reproductive cloning is the process of using one organism's genetic information to make a complete copy of that same organism. This is not the same as therapeutic cloning, which involves using genetic information to make identical copies of all or part of an organism for the purpose of treating disorders that may arise. More specifically, cloning a person in order to make a new person with all of the rights and opportunities as anyone else is reproductive cloning; cloning a person to be an organ donor for the "original" person is therapeutic cloning. Many support reproductive cloning because of its use in the advancement of science, while others are opposed because of ethical concerns, safety risks, and religious beliefs.
Genetic clones of several different animals have been produced through reproductive cloning. The cloning of animals poses little risk to humans, so many consider it to be beneficial because it allows for the relatively safe development of better cloning technology. It also provides great insight into the genetic makeups of a variety of different organisms. Many people are opposed to cloning animals on ethical grounds, however, because most attempts at cloning are unsuccessful and lead to the death or severe disfigurement of the clones.
Human cloning is a much more hotly disputed issue because of the different ethical and religious views people possess regarding the value of humans. Proponents of human reproductive cloning argue that those who cannot have children through natural or currently available laboratory-based means could use cloning to have genetically-related children. It would also allow homosexual couples to have genetically-related children without turning to adoption or surrogate parents. Another highly controversial advantage of reproductive cloning is the ability of parents who have lost children to have exact genetic clones of the lost children developed. Proponents of cloning often respond to ethical objections by stating that the ethical standards of society need to change as new potentially valuable technologies are developed.
Opponents of reproductive cloning object that cloning as an accepted practice would prompt people to view themselves and others as objects. It would also place great psychological stress on cloned individuals, who would need to accept that they were artificially produced and would likely spend much of their lives struggling to break out of the shadows of their genetic "parents." Additionally, as demonstrated through animal cloning, reproductive cloning is highly dangerous and could result in premature death or severe debilitating disfigurement of clones.