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cloningAny discussion about cloning needs to begin with careful definitions.  Cloning can occur at the level of DNA, at the level of the single cell, or at the level of the whole organism.  Typically, ethical attention is focused upon cloning in the context of the genetic copying of a whole organism.  While the cloning of non-mammals has occurred in research contexts for many years, the cloning of the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, surprised many in the scientific community.  What quickly followed was the cloning of other species and intense speculation about the possible cloning of humans.  Cloned human embryos have been produced, but there are no reliable reports that any have been implanted in a woman’s uterus, let alone developed to birth.  Cloning to birth has come to be called ‘reproductive cloning’, whereas cloning embryos so that their stem cells may be extracted for possible research or therapeutic use has come to be called ‘therapeutic cloning’.  The key ethical issue with therapeutic cloning is the moral status of the cloned embryo, which is created solely for destruction.  The ethical issues with reproductive cloning include genetic damage to the clone, health risks to the mother, very low success rate meaning loss of large numbers of embryos and fetuses, psychological harm to the clone, complex altered familial relationships, and commodification of human life.