• Technology •
July 20, 2005
We are now witnessing a comprehensive revolution in the way information is distributed, evaluated, and catapulted into the nation’s consciousness. Just ask Eason Jordan.
June 16, 2005
Modernity, with its focus on autonomous individualism and liberation from traditional structures, represents a threatening environment for the family unit. The sexual revolution has severed the link between sexual fidelity and marital integrity. Modern contraceptives have allowed unlimited sex without procreative consequences, and the family has been dethroned from its exalted status and stripped of its functions.
June 15, 2005
Since the rise of genetic knowledge, the eugenic temptation has always been with us. As Daniel Kevles notes, the desire to breed better humans goes back as far as Plato, though Plato had no conception that genetic knowledge would one day put that goal within human reach. Francis Galton’s term eugenics (literally, “good in birth”) is now a part of our cultural vocabulary, and the eugenic reality is on the front line of our cultural crisis.
June 14, 2005
The cloning of a human brings to mind the sterile, dehumanizing images of Huxley’s Brave New World, with its fertilizing rooms, decanting chambers, and embryo stores representing the technological perfection of artificial human reproduction. The reproductive revolution has already thrown a host of difficult ethical issues on the national agenda, but the genetic revolution is perhaps the greatest ethical challenge of the new millennium.
June 13, 2005
News that scientists had cloned an adult sheep from non-reproductive cells shook the scientific community some years ago, but prompted an earthquake of concern in the larger culture. The cloning of the sheep by Dr. Ian Wilmut’s team in Scotland raised a host of ethical, legal, and social issues which will take time to untangle. Yet, even as this reality began to sink into our cultural consciousness, further reports of the cloning of monkeys from embryo cells and attempts at human cloning raised the sense of ethical crisis.
May 17, 2005
“Visit the household of any expectant parent, and you are likely to see a printout of a sonogram on the fridge. You may even be offered the chance to watch a live-action video of a three-dimensional fetus, the newest ultrasound option,” reflects Gayle Kirshenbaum, writing in the “My Turn” column of this week’s edition of Newsweek. But, Kirshenbaum’s article is not sentimental in the least. To the contrary, when she saw her baby on the screen, she didn’t feel “maternal” at all. She described the image of the fetus as “suggestive of the human,” but with “its oversize head and flipperlike appendages,” it looked “closer to the amphibious.” Later, she described the baby’s image as “a squidlike creature.”
May 5, 2005
Most Americans are blissfully unaware that this country is fast becoming the world’s retailer of reproductive technologies. Procedures that are rightly considered immoral in other nations are readily available here–at least for those able to pay. Sex-selection abortions and embryo sorting are available here, along with virtually unlimited and unregulated access to a market for sperm and eggs. Suzanne Leigh reports in USA Today that women are coming to the U.S., seeking to become pregnant. As she explains: ” The women are mainly from Canada, Australia and parts of Europe, where tough laws forbid the payment of egg donors and limit those seeking to become pregnant to using eggs from a young friend or family member or from a small pool of unpaid donors. Waiting periods of several years are not uncommon. But in the USA — dubbed the Wild West of reproductive technology by bioethicist Arthur Caplan — there’s an abundance of egg donors who set their own fees as well as a plethora of IVF clinics in many states, which makes pregnancy for even the postmenopausal a possibility. About 50% of IVF procedures using fresh embryos from donor eggs in 2002 resulted in a live birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Costs including drugs, IVF and donor compensation start at around $20,000 and vary widely from clinic to clinic.” Follow the money.
April 13, 2005
Should pharmacists be required to dispense so-called “emergency contraceptives” even if it violates their deepest convictions? That is no longer a hypothetical question, as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich recently issued an executive rule requiring all pharmacies in his state to fill a woman’s prescription for the “morning-after pill.” The governor’s “emergency order” comes with the force of law, and means that pharmacists who refuse to fill these prescriptions can face sanctions and could lose their jobs and professional status.
March 23, 2005
Gilbert Meilaender is one of the most intelligent and influential bioethicists of our age, and it is reassuring to know that he is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. Meilaender holds the Richard and Phyllis Duesenberg Chair in Theological Ethics at Valparaiso University, and his numerous writings in philosophy and bioethics are must-reads for intelligent Christians.
March 9, 2005
America has been involved in an intense and culture-shaking debate over abortion that has now lasted into its fourth decade. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court did not settle the issue at all. Far from it. That landmark exercise in judicial activism has led to the death of millions of unborn babies and left a scar across the nation’s soul that will not heal until America regains its moral sense and defends the unborn.
February 23, 2005
Are you ready for the posthuman future? That is the frightening question posed by Wesley J. Smith in his new book, Consumer’s Guide to a Brave New World. Smith, Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute and special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture, has written another book that demands the attention of every thoughtful Christian.
February 15, 2005