Category : Life Ethics

(Globe and Mail) Unnatural selection: Babies in the genetic technology age

The notion of tinkering with an embryo’s DNA – let alone creating designer babies – makes many of us recoil. But let us not forget the shock and horror at the news of the first “test-tube baby,” Louise Brown, in 1978.

After her birth, her parents received blood-spattered hate mail (and a tiny plastic fetus). Now we call it IVF, and no one bats an eye.

Technologies that allow parents to pick and choose embryos based on genetic testing are already a quarter of a century old. But the dawn of CRISPR, a technology that can “edit” mutated DNA at the embryo stage, has raised the spectre of Nazi-era eugenics and identikit babies out of a sci-fi thriller.

What if laws were in place to forbid scientists from using technologies to create the superrace we fear? What if we had consensus, and an ethical framework, to decide which embryos should live, and which should die?

Such questions are the beating heart of science journalist Bonnie Rochman’s new book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have Kids – and the Kids We Have, published in February.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

Ed Stetzer—Being pro-life means caring about all of human life. That includes being pro-refugee

First, evangelicals have been involved with refugee resettlement for a long time and in a lot of churches. Many evangelical leaders have advocated for refugees, from all different faiths, for years. They know the program, and they know the refugees — and they know it’s safe and a good way to show the love of Christ.

Second, evangelical leaders, knowing the facts, are emboldened to speak when alternative facts may be holding sway elsewhere, particularly when those alternative facts are hurting the most vulnerable. In the Christian tradition, we call that speaking prophetically — like prophets in what Christians call the Old Testament, we have to sometimes speak to our own people and remind them of what is right.

Third, many evangelical leaders have had an uneasy connection with the Trump administration. Yes, they know that white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for President Trump, and many strongly agree with Trump’s stated concerns about religious liberty, the Supreme Court, and more. But they want — and even need — room to disagree with a president who has said and done many things contrary to their beliefs. Speaking up for refugees is one of the areas where many believe they can.

Read it all from Vox.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Life Ethics, Uncategorized

(Economist) Gene editing, clones and the science of making babies

It used to be so simple. Girl met boy. Gametes were transferred through plumbing optimised by millions of years of evolution. Then, nine months later, part of that plumbing presented the finished product to the world. Now things are becoming a lot more complicated. A report published on February 14th by America’s National Academy of Sciences gives qualified support to research into gene-editing techniques so precise that genetic diseases like haemophilia and sickle-cell anaemia can be fixed before an embryo even starts to develop. The idea of human cloning triggered a furore when, 20 years ago this week, Dolly the sheep was revealed to the world (see article); much fuss about nothing, some would say, looking back. But other technological advances are making cloning humans steadily more feasible.

Some are horrified at the prospect of people “playing God” with reproduction. Others, whose lives are blighted by childlessness or genetic disease, argue passionately for the right to alleviate suffering. Either way, the science is coming and society will have to work out what it thinks.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology

The full Text of the Evangelical Alliance Statement–The Reformation, evangelicals+Roman Catholicism

Same-sex relationships and marriage. Drawing especially on the biblical creation narrative (Gen. 2:23-4) and on the teaching of Jesus and Paul (Matt. 19:1-12; Eph. 5:22-3), evangelicals and Catholics have widely co-operated in recent times in the promotion, support and defence of marriage as a one-flesh union of one man and one womanfor life. Marriage in this sense has been presented by both as the foundational institution of human society ”“ a corollary to the common good which delivers better outcomes overall for spouses, children and communities than other forms of co-habitation. Alongside this convictionabout monogamous, heterosexual marriage, evangelicals and Catholics have also agreed in highlighting biblical representations of sexually active same-sex unions as falling outside God’s purposes for human relationships and human society. In more recent times, this has meant widespread joint action to oppose legislation approving same-sex marriage. Where same-sex marriage has been legalised, it has meant working together to protect the rights of churches and their ministers to reaffirm heterosexual marriage, and to retain the right to conduct only heterosexual marriages. At the same time, however, evangelicals and Catholics have worked more closely together on welcoming same-sex attracted people and same-sex couples in the church context, and on dialoguing with LGBTI groups to ensure mutual respect and understanding in this contentious area of Christian ethics, ministry and
pastoral care.

Read it all (8 page pdf).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

The Diocese of South Carolina Contingent at the 2017 March for Life

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

South Carolina Rector Shay Gaillard Writes on why he Marched for Life this week

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On Friday morning the 20th of January, the Mall in Washington, DC, was the sight of the much-publicized Inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. One week later on January 27, the Mall will once again be the sight of an important event to protest prayerfully a legal decision in the United States known as Roe v. Wade from January 22, 1973. This event on the Mall will receive far less coverage than the Inauguration but is every bit as important. This year, I will make the trip to be a part of the March for Life with the contingent from Anglicans for Life and bishops from the Anglican Church in North America.

I have long protested the act of protesting. In fact, I ironically responded to the request to be a part of a “March for Jesus” in the 90’s by saying “I do not march.” Well it turns out God has other plans. So why would I leave family and home in a busy week in January? Why would I go somewhere colder than Beaufort? Simply, why march? I want to offer three main reasons:

I am marching because I am convinced that the Bible requires me to speak up for the voiceless and defenseless in our culture. No one has less power in our world than the unborn.
I am marching because I believe that the Life issue is not political but scriptural. I believe it is intrinsic to our faith, not optional.
I am marching because I want to bear witness to these truths with other Brothers and Sisters as well as other co-belligerents. I want to feel the strength of the pro-life movement in this country. Most polls show this country at about 50% pro-life but that strength is not often represented in the media.

This Sunday, we will celebrate Sanctity of Life Sunday at St. Helena’s, and there will be a bulletin insert from Anglicans for Life. I will be teaching about the sanctity of human life from a biblical perspective during the Rector’s Forum. We also will have information about the Radiance Women’s Center here in Beaufort. My hope is that many of you will feel called to join me in starting an Anglicans for Life chapter here at St. Helena’s. I believe there is much for us to do in our church and in the community to uphold the cause of life.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.


(The Rev) Shay Gaillard, rector, Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, SC

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NR) Huge, Diverse Crowd Marches for Life in the Nation’s Capital

“We are the pro-life generation,” the crowd chanted, voices building to an overwhelming crescendo with each repetition of the line. Packed onto the National Mall across the street from the White House Friday, the revelers deafened one another with their joyful shouts, tens of thousands gathered just across the street from President Donald Trump’s new home, smiling and laughing and breaking into spontaneous cheers.

Such was the scene at the 44th annual March for Life, first held here on January 22, 1974, one year to the day after the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion nationwide. In good weather and in bad ”” given Washington’s bitter Januaries, it’s usually the latter ”” crowds swarm the Mall every year to protest against the country’s abortion laws and to advocate for the protection of unborn life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Washington Post's Live coverage of the March for Life

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Media, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Women from around the nation ready to trek to the March for Life

Rebecca Cooper spent 27 hours on a charter bus on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last year full of teens and Christian youth leaders from West Michigan when she attended the March for Life in 2016.

Despite being stranded in two feet of snow, the then 18-year-old Michigander from Grand Rapids said their group was resilient; two members hiked across the field from the Turnpike to the home of a farmer, who then took them to a grocery store to get food. They also found creative ways to stay warm, including using prayer and song to keep them from letting the cold and confining circumstances get the best of them.

“It was an experience that made me even more devoted to attending this year’s march as opposed to discouraging me,” she said.

Read it all. You can find the website here and you can follow the twitter hashtag #marchforlife.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

(Guardian) Designer Babies: an ethical horror waiting to happen?

If the genetic basis of attributes like intelligence and musicality is too thinly spread and unclear to make selection practical, then tweaking by genetic manipulation certainly seems off the menu too. “I don’t think we are going to see superman or a split in the species any time soon,” says Greely, “because we just don’t know enough and are unlikely to for a long time ”“ or maybe for ever.”

If this is all “designer babies” could mean even in principle ”“ freedom from some specific but rare diseases, knowledge of rather trivial aspects of appearance, but only vague, probabilistic information about more general traits like health, attractiveness and intelligence ”“ will people go for it in large enough numbers to sustain an industry?

[Bioethicist Henry] Greely suspects, even if it is used at first only to avoid serious genetic diseases, we need to start thinking hard about the options we might be faced with. “Choices will be made,” he says, “and if informed people do not participate in making those choices, ignorant people will make them.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Rod Dreher's Deeply Troubling piece on Some Canadian RC Bps Pastoral Letter on Assisted Suicide

(You need first to take the time to read read the original document there.

“In the absence of faith, we govern by tenderness. And tenderness leads to the gas chamber,” said Flannery O’Connor. Her point was that sentimentality cannot restrain the darker forces in human nature. Which brings us to the Catholic bishops of eastern Canada.

They recently published a pastoral document indicating how, in their opinion, Catholics who commit suicide voluntarily, through doctor-assisted euthanasia (which is now legal there), should be treated by the Church….It is a masterpiece of Francis-speak. The document can be summed up like this: “Yes, euthanasia is strictly forbidden by the Catholic Church, but we know that some people are going to choose it anyway, so we intend to offer them all the sacraments to help them along the way, because who are we to judge?”

Here are some passages from the document. This is the opening paragraph:

In our Catholic tradition we often refer to the Church as our Mother. We perceive her as a mother who lovingly accompanies us throughout life, and who especially wishes to support and guide us when we are faced with difficult situations and decisions. It is from this perspective that we, the Bishops of the Atlantic Episcopal Assembly, wish to share with you this pastoral reflection on medical assistance in dying.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Canada, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

Kazuo Ishiguro: We’re coming close to the pt where we can create people who are superior to others

Imagine a two-tiered society with elite citizens, genetically engineered to be smarter, healthier and to live longer, and an underclass of biologically run-of-the-mill humans. It sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel, but the world could be sleepwalking towards this scenario, according to one of Britain’s most celebrated writers.

Kazuo Ishiguro argues that the social changes unleashed by gene editing technologies, such as Crispr, could undermine core human values.

“We’re going into a territory where a lot of the ways in which we have organised our societies will suddenly look a bit redundant,” he said. “In liberal democracies, we have this idea that human beings are basically equal in some very fundamental way. We’re coming close to the point where we can, objectively in some sense, create people who are superior to others.”

Read it all from the Guardian.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Philip Burcham–War Against the Weak: Genetic Counselling and the New Eugenics

While we have thus far highlighted their impact on isolated families like mine, on my darkest days I cannot help wondering if Neoeugenicist attitudes are re-booting the whole ethos of Western medicine and an entire civilisation. Whichever way the cake is cut, the principle that one group of people can legally coerce another to destroy their offspring simply because their skeletons contain low levels of collagen or their eyeballs are a funny colour seems ineradicably totalitarian. Once established this tyranny can never remain quarantined within healthcare institutions – like a virulent pathogen such contempt for human dignity will surely propagate beyond hospital walls and inflict damage upon our society as a whole.

Some hints concerning the social consequences that accompanied medical totalitarianism in an earlier age emerge from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the former University of Berlin academic who opposed the dehumanisation of the Jews in eugenics-obsessed Nazi Germany. He explores the influence of the anti-democratic impulse within healthcare in his famous unfinished work, Ethics.

As he sensed his execution approaching, Bonhoeffer grasped that a commitment to the intrinsic value of every human life is basic to a humane civil order. In such a society, the strong vigilantly resist the temptation to lord themselves over the weak.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Terminally Ill Mom Denied Chemotherapy to Keep Her Alive, Offered Suicide Drugs Instead

My jaw dropped.”

This was the instant reaction of a mother suffering from a terminal disease when she was told by her medical insurance company that they could not pay for her chemotherapy but would be willing to shoulder the cost of drugs that would put her to death. The drugs’ price: $1.20.

Four years ago, 33-year-old California resident Stephanie Packer was diagnosed with scleroderma, a chronic autoimmune disease that causes scar tissue to form in her lungs, the New York Post reported.

Read it all from Christian Today.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WaPo) Archbp Desmond Tutu supports assisted suicide in a Washington Post op-ed

Regardless of what you might choose for yourself, why should you deny others the right to make this choice? For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.

I welcome anyone who has the courage to say, as a Christian, that we should give dying people the right to leave this world with dignity. My friend Lord Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, has passionately argued for an assisted-dying law in Britain. His initiative has my blessing and support ”” as do similar initiatives in my home country, South Africa, throughout the United States and across the globe.

In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth. The time to act is now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology