Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Paul Schenck

3/10/2014 (7 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

For the past three years I've pursued post-graduate studies and completed professional certification in bioethics in order to take head-on the growing ethical and moral questions being raised in biotechnologies. The conflicts over birth-control, abortion and so-called

The impulse to try to make 'better babies', 'eliminate' persons with undesirable traits, and to 'perfect' the human race, threatens to degrade some persons while exalting others. It is too often the case that standards of desirability, whether physical, racial or genetic, are arbitrarily set by those who hold power and influence in a society. One man's desirable trait becomes another's undesirable condition. But human value and dignity is absolute, never relative.

Highlights

By Fr. Paul Schenck

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/10/2014 (7 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: eugenics, bioethics, designer babies, bio-technology, ethics, morality, designer babies, margaret sanger, Pope Francis, Fr Paul Schenck


HARRISBURG,PA (Catholic online) - For the past three years I've pursued post-graduate studies and completed professional certification in bioethics in order to take head-on the growing ethical and moral questions being raised in biotechnologies. The conflicts over birth-control, abortion and so-called "reproductive technologies" have expanded exponentially.

Now, not all intrauterine therapies are immoral or unethical. There are wonderful surgical, medicinal and even genetic therapies that are compatible with the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person and doing great good for children with congenital abnormalities. But technologies that disrupt natural human development, distort personal identity and block or substitute for intercourse, the natural marital expression of love between spouses, rob children of their dignity and essential human rights.

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it will consider approving a drastic IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) process that will use the DNA of three donors: the mother, the father and a third person unrelated to them. The technique is being used to try to eliminate inherited diseases that are passed through the mitochondria.

Ethicists are debating the morality of such a process. Some say it is the humane thing to do and others that it is the beginning of a technological eugenics (the proposed improvement of the human species by permitting the reproduction only of people with desirable genetic characteristics).

Eugenics has been around for about a hundred years. It is the idea that science and scientific technique can lead to perfect people, and if practiced for generations, an improved human race. A notorious series of books entitled "The Eugenic Marriage: A Personal Guide to the New Science of Better Living and Better Babies" was published in 1914 by the Review of Reviews, a publishing concern representing the trans-Atlantic culture of progressive reform.

The concern was founded by Albert Shaw, a contemporary of Woodrow Wilson who was a progressive reformer, academic, newspaper editor and publisher. The series was written by W. Grant Hague, a medical doctor, professor in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and trustee of the American Medical Association. Here is what Hague wrote -

Eugenics, simply defined, means "better babies". It is the art of being well born. It implies consideration of everything that has to do with the well-being of the race: motherhood, marriage, heredity, environment, disease, hygiene, sanitation, vice, education, culture - in short, everything upon which the health of people depends.

This seems well enough intended, until you read on. Just a few pages later, Hague reveals the underlying motivation of the eugenicist -

We are beginning to learn that we can modify characteristics by proper selection, by environment, and by education. This process will, to an eminent degree, redound to the permanent advantage of mankind. We may reasonably aspire to a system of race-culture which will eliminate the undesirable and unfit, and conserve all effort for the propagation of the desirable or fit.

Perhaps the most notorious eugenicist of this period is Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who called the "undesirable and unfit" human weeds, and urged their being weeded out of the human race.

A hundred years later, the US FDA is considering approving an IVF procedure designed to do just this: weed out babies with genetic diseases by eviscerating their DNA and replacing it with a stranger's. This way, the child inherits the traits of three parents. But more insidious is the motivation: to perfect human children. This begs the question: what is an "imperfect" child? Who decides?

The impulse to try to make "better babies", "eliminate" persons with undesirable traits, and to "perfect" the human race, threatens to degrade some persons while exalting others. It is too often the case that standards of desirability, whether physical, racial or genetic, are arbitrarily set by those who hold power and influence in a society. One man's desirable trait becomes another's undesirable condition. But human value and dignity is absolute, never relative.

In our efforts to properly treat and eradicate disease, we must be careful never to confuse the person with the illness or condition. The disabilities community has rightly placed the emphasis on the person and not the disability. So one is "a person with a disability", not a "disabled person".

This is the right way of understanding every person. Treating a person with an inherited trait or disease is one thing, replacing that person or an essential part of their identity, is quite another. As Pope Francis has said, "Human beings are ends in themselves, and never a means of resolving other problems."    

-----
Fr. Paul Schenck, a Priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA., is the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policy makers the information, education and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions. He is a Champion of the Pro-Life movement.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More U.S.

ACTIVE SHOOTER - Kids, teachers, community terrorized by admin, police at Thompson Jr. HS in Bakersfield in the name of safety? Watch

Image of Terrorization in the name of safety is still terror.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The latest school shooting did not make the national news yesterday because allegedly it was an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated against kids and a working-class community in the name of safety. For about 30 minutes on Tuesday, students, faculty, and their parents ... continue reading


Guns Do Not Have Rights, People Do. Legitimate Self Defense is One of Them

Image of Guns have no rights, only people do.Yes, one of them is the Right to Self Defense - and the Right to defend your neighbor. You may ask,

By Keith A. Fournier

We live in a precarious time in the United States of America. Many of us are deeply concerned about the effort to infringe upon the fundamental rights which were delineated in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. I have written extensively about ... continue reading


Catholic school forbids Hollywood lesbian drama from shooting on location Watch

Image of In the scene to be filmed at the school, Moore's character, a New Jersey police detective with terminal cancer, applies for a domestic partnership with her partner, played by Page in order to pass on her pension legally after her death.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While actresses Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are big names in filmland, their largesse didn't get them past the authorities at Salesian High School in New Rochelle, New York. The catholic school has declined their request to use their location for a ... continue reading


On the Feast of St. John Paul II, His Prophetic Warning to the U.S. Requires a Response Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier standing under the beautiful bronze statue of John Paul II in Denver, Colorado.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

In an address given during that 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia for the bicentennial celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla spoke some words which I believe were prophetic. - We are now standing in the face ... continue reading


Guest Commentary by Ken Blackwell: Houston's Mayor is Endangering Civil Rights

Image of Ken Blackwell

By Ken Blackwell

In Houston, Texas, we have seen a bizarre twist on traditional Civil Rights play out. The Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, has been waging an uncivil war on people who oppose the far-reaching homosexual rights ordinance she powered through the City Council. That ... continue reading


Suspected Indiana serial killer foiled by text messages Watch

Image of Darren Deon Vann is suspected in the death of a woman in Hammond - and possibly six more in neighboring Gary, possibly even more.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Darren Deon Vann told Indiana Police he "messed up" and expressed surprise that he was found so quickly, in the biggest understatement in recent memory. Vann is suspected in the death of a woman in Hammond - and possibly six more in neighboring Gary, possibly ... continue reading


United States developing quick-strike team to deal with Ebola Watch

Image of The U.S. Ebola strike team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In response to the crisis in Dallas, the United States is developing a 30-person "quick-strike team" in order to attend to the needs of Ebola patients within the U.S. The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month. The ... continue reading


After 21 days, the family of Thomas Eric Duncan are Ebola free Watch

Image of Thomas Eric Duncan's family, including his fiancee and her son and nephews, are nearing the end of their 21 day quarantine. So far, none of the four have developed Ebola like symptoms.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The fiancee of Thomas Eric Duncan-the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States-is nearing the end of a 21 day quarantine, and she and her son and two nephews are grateful that this period is coming to an end. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - If ... continue reading


Supreme Court backs Texas' war on voter fraud Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court has backed a 2013 Texas law that requires voters to show ID before they submit a vote.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Supreme Court has given Texas the go ahead for a law that requires voters in the state to show certain forms of identification before they are able to cast a ballot. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The October 18 decision came from a majority of ... continue reading


Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Synod on the Family: Duc in Altum

Image of Lorenzo Lotto's depiction of the Holy Family's rest on the flight into Egypt.

By Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

Christians today in most parts of the world find themselves in a world much like the one inhabited by the first Christians - rampant sexual license, abortion, contraception, family break-down.  Those early Christians took a counter-cultural stance, echoing ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 3:14-21
14 This, then, is what I pray, kneeling before the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:1-2, 4-5, 11-12, 18-19
1 Shout for joy, you upright; praise comes well from ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:49-53
49 'I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 23rd, 2014 Image

St. John of Capistrano
October 23: St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter