Standard Article

Human Cloning: Legal Aspects

  1. Christopher A Pynes

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005200.pub2



How to Cite

Pynes, C. A. 2009. Human Cloning: Legal Aspects. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009


Human cloning debates fall into two broad categories: reproductive and therapeutic. Both varieties of human cloning have important legal aspects from ownership of genetic material, stem cell research, the dignity and respect for human life, reproductive rights of individuals, among other things, to the rights of potentially cloned individuals. Two basic facts complicate the legal issues with cloning: the biological technology needed to achieve human cloning can be found in most good labs, and writing and enforcing laws on either kind of human cloning is difficult to achieve. And even though there is a general consensus about the need to ban reproductive cloning in the world community, the views concerning therapeutic cloning are varied and have complicated the legal matters internationally and in individual nations. It is certain that regulations will continue to change at a rate slower than the biological technology.

Key concepts:

  • Reproductive cloning is cloning where the live birth of another individual is intended, and has been consistently opposed by all government and most individuals.

  • Therapeutic cloning is cloning for purposes other than the live birth of an individual, and has seen support by some governments and many individuals.

  • UNESCO or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization which functions as a mechanism that attempts to gain universal agreements on emerging ethical issues related to science and education.

  • The UK has a clear prohibition on reproductive human cloning, but works to keep laws current with and relevant to technological advances.

  • The EU supports funding for embryonic stem cell research, but has banned human cloning.

  • The USA has a complex mix of state and federal regulations and interlocutors often conflate the cloning issues with the abortion debate, which gives rise to strong objections to both types of cloning and to stem cell research.


  • cloning;
  • law;
  • human rights;
  • international regulation;
  • genetics