Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Paul Schenck

3/10/2014 (2 years 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 (2 years 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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2016
Universal:
Small Farmers: That small farmers may receive a just reward for their precious labor.
Evangelization: African Christians: That Christians in Africa may give witness to love and faith in Jesus Christ amid political-religious conflicts.



Comments


More U.S.

'It was an escape:' father of Scientology founder tells all Watch

Image of Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, opens up (20/20)

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Ron and Becky Miscavige escaped the California Scientology compound known as the "Gold Base" and have stepped forward to share their story. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientology is a quiet religion shrouded in secrets - many of which are believed to be ... continue reading


'Clown-in-Chief' Obama makes skit about retirement, but here's why we're not laughing Watch

Image of Obama thinks he's a comedian, but some matters are too serious to joke about.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

President Obama, in an act of self-depreciating humor, has made a SNL-style spoof about his retirement. While amusing at moments, we can't decide if the video is good, because to make it he had to take time away from issuing executive orders, or bad, because it must ... continue reading


CIA under fire for 'live tweeting' dramatic Bin Laden raid on 5 year anniversary Watch

Image of Though some patriots were pleased to see the tweets, several compared the CIA to ISIS and their propaganda videos.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The CIA celebrated the 5-year anniversary of Osama bin Ladin's death by posting "live tweets" of the raid that killed him. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For those who don't have a Twitter account, the CIA posted a timeline of the raid on their website.The tweets ... continue reading


Athanasius, Defender of the Incarnation: Defend the Faith! Watch

Image of St. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Incarnation

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bishop and Doctor of the Church whom we honor today in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar was called the Defender of the Incarnation. This title summarizes a life given over to defending the central Christian claim - about who Jesus is and who we can be - ... continue reading


No Phony Truces in the Battle to Block Most Anti-Life, Liberal Court in a Generation

Image of The United States Supreme Court

By J. Kenneth Blackwell

While much of our attention is on the Presidential race, the looming battle over a Supreme Court nomination merits no less attention.  The battle lines are clear in this nomination and the future of the Court and our Constitutional principles are at ... continue reading


Fr Frank Pavone - Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis' Encouraging Roadmap for Families Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

Amoris Laetitia is a timely and loving exhortation for families towards genuine charity that begins within the nuclear family. It can be described as a new road-map for a culture that has taken a sad and tragic detour. The Joy of Love recognizes women's ... continue reading


Catherine of Siena: We Need Saints for this Missionary Age Watch

Image of Today, in the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar, we commemorate one of the greatest women saints of Christian history, Catherine of Siena.  While praying at Peter's tomb, she experienced the great weight of the Church fall on her shoulders.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Father, raise up women like Catherine of Siena for this new missionary age of your Church. Women who are so in love with you, and so conformed to the Image of your Son, they can do for your Church in this hour, what she did in her own. Saints are a gift for the ... continue reading


Christian student shockingly dropped from master's program for practicing religious rights Watch

Image of Andrew Cash was discriminated against for practicing his religious rights (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Andrew Cash practiced his religious rights at Missouri State University - and was dismissed from the master's program in counseling as a result. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic News Agency, Cash was referring same-sex couples to another ... continue reading


Not a newsflash, U.S. government authorized use of propaganda on American people...in 2013. Here's who to blame Watch

Image of Obama signed the amendment into law in 2013.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Does the news seem a little too pro-American to you? Does it seem reporters pull punches and that the real issues are ignored? Perhaps that's the result of a quiet change to the law that took place in 2013. A law banning the use of government propaganda on the American ... continue reading


The cost of incarceration: What can we do? Watch

Image of What can we do about overpopulated prisons and ex-cons' ability to find work (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)?

By Matt Hadro (CNA)

Experts from across the political spectrum are calling for criminal justice reform, as a new White House report shows the human and economic costs of the current justice system. Washington D.C. (CNA) - "This is a singular moment in one of the most challenging issues ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 16:11-15
11 Sailing from Troas we made a straight run for Samothrace; the next day ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in the assembly of the ... Read More

Gospel, John 15:26--16:4
26 When the Paraclete comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 2nd, 2016 Image

St. Athanasius
May 2: St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith ... Read More