Skip to content

Christmas SALE 20% off

Catholic Online Shopping

FREE Shipping* + 20% off

* FREE Shipping all orders to lower 48

Deadly Drive for Medical Perfection

Genetic Selection and Abortion Taking a Higher Toll

By Father John Flynn

NEW YORK, DEC. 13, 2006 (Zenit) - Some parents are selecting embryos in order to have children with genetic defects. In a bizarre reversal of the normal situation, where less-than-perfect embryos are rejected, a small number of people look for children who suffer the same problems they have, the New York Times reported Dec. 5.

The article cited a forthcoming study, from the journal Fertility and Sterility. A survey of fertility clinics in the United States found that 3% of couples use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) "to select an embryo for the presence of a disability."

With PGD the embryos are conceived in a laboratory and a single cell is taken for analysis. The embryos that pass the test are then implanted, the "defective" ones are left to die, and further healthy ones are sometimes frozen.

On Sept. 20 the Associated Press explained that the technique can be used for a variety of purposes. A survey of American clinics, also published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that almost half allow the use of PGD to let parents select the sex of their children. And 23% of the fertility centers would permit couples to help have a child whose umbilical cord blood could be used to treat a sibling with a serious illness.

On Sept. 3 the New York Times published a lengthy article describing how PGD is used to eliminate embryos that have defective genes that might, at some unknown time in the future, lead to cancer. It is also used to eliminate embryos that carry genes leading to illnesses such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and Huntington's disease.

The article noted the high financial costs involved. Depending on how successful the in vitro fertilization procedures are, conceiving a genetically screened baby could cost a couple upward of $25,000. Moreover, there is concern over the long-term health effects of removing a cell from an embryo for analysis at such an early stage of development.

Human status

Earlier this year the Pontifical Academy for Life examined the morality of PGD. The 12th general assembly of the Vatican body, held in February, was dedicated to considering the human embryo in the pre-implantation phase.

The final declaration of the pontifical academy concluded that the human embryo before implantation is:

-- already a being of the human species;

-- an individual being;

-- a being that possesses in itself the finality to develop as a human person together with the intrinsic capacity to achieve such development.

The academy observed that a decision as to whether an embryo at this stage is already a "person" is open to further philosophical considerations. Nevertheless, the declaration stated: "We maintain that there is no significant reason to deny that the embryo is already a person in this phase."

From a moral point of view, "the mere fact of being in the presence of a human being (and even the doubt of this would suffice) would demand full respect for the embryo's integrity and dignity," the statement continued. "[A]ny conduct that might in some way constitute a threat or an offense to its most fundamental rights, and first and foremost the right to life, must be considered as seriously immoral."

Playing God

But what the Church sees as immoral is hailed by others as a virtue. In England, Sunday Times commentator Minette Marrin declared herself to be "dazzled by the inventiveness and compassion" behind a new PGD technique that will make it easier to detect genetic defects in embryos.

"It will be easier and better in every way to get rid of a tiny collection of cells," Marrin exulted in an article June 25. And to those who expressed concerns over the use of PGD Marrin replied: "But what on earth is wrong with humans playing God?"

The extension of PGD seems limitless. William Saletan, writing in the Washington Post on Sept. 17, explained how PGD in its first days was used to detect fatal childhood diseases. But now a significant number of clinics allow it to be used to detect genetic problems that will not cause any diseases until well into middle age. Moreover, the risk of developing some of these illnesses is less than 50%. He noted a case where a patient wanted to screen for an arthritis gene that only has a 20% chance of causing problems.

Saleton declared himself in favor of using PGD to eliminate serious illnesses. But even he admitted that its use could lead down a slippery slope.

In fact, earlier this year the British body in charge of regulating fertility clinics, the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, relaxed its rules on PGD use. Couples will now be allowed to screen embryos for genes such as those that can lead to a number of types of cancer, the BBC reported May 10.

The decision came under strong criticism from some groups. Clara Mackay, of Breast Cancer Care, told the BBC that the incidence of breast cancer cases linked to known genes accounted for just five in 100 cases. "This means that if an embryo is implanted without the affected gene, the child can still develop the disease and would carry the same lifetime risk as anyone in the general population," she stated.

Aborting the "unfit"

Killing off babies with defects does not stop at the PGD phase. Mothers are often pressured to abort children with problems. The British newspaper Telegraph recounted one case in an article May 21. Lisa Green was urged by her doctor to abort when her baby was diagnosed with Down syndrome, at the 35th week of pregnancy.

Green told the newspaper how the doctor only talked about the negative consequences of having a Down syndrome baby. In spite of the pressure she went ahead and two weeks later gave birth. Other children are not so fortunate. According to the Telegraph, in the United Kingdom 62% of Down syndrome cases are detected in the womb, and 92% of those unborn babies are aborted.

Similarly, the Sunday Times on May 28 described how more than 20 babies had been aborted at a late stage of pregnancy because they suffered from club feet. The numbers came from data published by the Office for National Statistics, for 1996-2004.

In addition, four other babies were aborted because they had webbed figures or extra digits. These problems, like club feet, can be corrected by surgery.

A similar situation was reported in the Australian state of Victoria, reported the local Herald Sun on June 4. According to the state's Perinatal Data Collection Unit, there were 12 late-term abortions in 2004 for babies suffering from conditions such as club foot, cleft palate and dwarfism.

Efforts to "perfect" the race sometimes reach levels reminiscent of Nazi times. An investigation is under way into complaints made by more than 80 Gypsy women in the Czech Republic that they were sterilized.

The cases date from 1986 to 2004, the Christian Science Monitor reported Sept. 6. The newspaper added that sterilizations of Gypsy women also take place in countries such as Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The push for medical perfection, it seems, has yet to reach its limits.

Contact

Catholic Online
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000

Email

info@yourcatholicvoice.org

Keywords

Medical, Genetics, Abortion, Life, Flynn

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity
DAN SHEA

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Catholic Online MasterClass
Learn from experts

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Catholic Media Missionaries
The New Evangelization

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.