I teach #philosophy and work as a researcher for the Iona Institute (www.ionainstitute.ie) Abruzzese. #Distributism
Marriage in Ireland still declining despite a bumper 2022 https://familysolidarity.org/marriage-in-ireland-still-declining-despite-a-bumper-2022/
Bénédicte Colin on the European Certificate of Parenthood https://familysolidarity.org/benedicte-colin-on-the-european-certificate-of-parenthood/
Webinar on the European Certificate of Parenthood https://familysolidarity.org/webinar-on-the-european-certificate-of-parenthood/
FAFCE calls the European Commission to include surrogacy in the review of its EU Directive on human trafficking https://familysolidarity.org/fafce-calls-the-european-commission-to-include-surrogacy-in-the-review-of-its-eu-directive-on-human-trafficking/
Children are left unprotected against extreme pornography https://familysolidarity.org/children-are-left-unprotected-against-extreme-pornography/
CW LONG POST ORIGINAL CONTENT
A new organ donor bill is ethically questionable
If a proposed new law is passed, after you die your organs can be removed from your body for medical purposes unless you expressly say beforehand that you do not want this to happen. Consent is otherwise assumed. As usual, the law is going through the various parliamentary stages without proper debate, even though the proposal is ethically questionable. An Organ Donor Register, instead, should be established.
The proposed law is called the ‘Human Tissue 2022 Bill’. It covers issues such as the donation and transplantation of organs from deceased persons.
At present, an opt-in system exists. This means that only those who have expressly declared their intention to donate organs after they die will have them removed from their bodies, and even then only with the final approval of the family.
The new regime will mean consent is assumed, although final authorisation from a designated family member will still be needed.
The proposed regime is motivated by the good intention of addressing the problem of a shortage of organs for transplant in Ireland, but it is still ethically questionable as donation should arise only from an informed and deliberate decision on a person’s part.
Presumed consent is based instead on the assumption that we are all aware that our organs are available for transplantation upon death and we are happy with that. But what is this assumption really based on?
The HSE’s own consent policy says: “Consent involves a process of communication about the proposed intervention in which the person has received sufficient information to enable them to understand the nature, potential risks and benefits of the proposed intervention”.
It is very unlikely that the new system of presumed consent will meet these criteria.
To make the new system more ethical, patients should be explicitly asked to express their opinion on the matter when attending a hospital or their GP. This will prompt awareness and provoke conversation about donation, which must remain a choice freely and explicitly made and not assumed. Taking without asking is not giving.
As suggested by the Irish Kidney Association, there should be an Organ Donor Register, where all wishes – to opt in or out – are explicitly recorded. “Knowing that a loved one had proactively recorded their wish to be an organ donor makes the family decision to consent a much easier proposition”, a representative of the Irish Kidney Association told the Oireachtas.
What is positive in this new Bill is that it is not inspired by a principle of absolute bodily autonomy of the patients, but it requires the involvement of their families, who could even overrule the decision of the deceased and veto the donation.
There are many reasons why the ultimate word should be with the families rather than with the individual.
While it is important to honour the wish of the deceased, we need to consider that personal decisions affect others, particularly the family. Some cultures place special importance on respecting the integrity of the body after death. Moreover, when organ donation happens against the wish of the family, they might refuse to cooperate, or their discontent could also affect the work of the health-care staff.
A proper ethical system in this area should follow two basic principles: explicit (not presumed) consent from the individual, and approval from the family following the death of the person. The second principle is still followed, but not the first and more important one.
Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash
CW Long post. Original content.
How parents of DS children are subtly directed toward abortion
There has been little reaction to the news that 95pc of babies diagnosed with Down Syndrome before birth at the Rotunda hospital are subsequently aborted in England.
The response to these horrendous figures has been silence or fatalism. For some, it is an individual “choice” to be respected. There is nothing to be worried about or, even when people find the figures regrettable, little can be done.
“I don’t have a view on whether that is the right thing. We don’t advocate for it, that is just the lived experience”, said prof Fergal Malone, master of the Rotunda.
Is it true? Is it really a purely personal choice, without outside influence or expectations from others? Two recent studies on the experience of parents of children with DS indicate otherwise.
Irish research published last year interviewed eight people following the birth of a child with DS. Some praised the doctors and nurses, but others said the information they received was too medically focused and too negative. It is very hard to believe the same does not happen to couples who are told their baby has DS before it is born.
“Don’t come in with a list of negatives, all the negatives that were put in your head initially we never expected her to be this good now”, said one of the interviewed mothers.
She recalls: “We received purely negative information that she could have this or that, …”
A father said, “Doctors should show compassion when they are delivering the news, have patience and don’t be rushing in and out”.
A Danish study spoke to parents who were told their babies had Down Syndrome before they were born. In Denmark, almost all children with DS are aborted.
The study notes: “Following the diagnosis, the couples were generally critical of the information provided by the hospital. Some felt that the health professionals had painted an unnecessarily grim picture of Down Syndrome based on what couples perceived as outdated information. … Some felt that there was an unnecessary focus on potential diseases and additional diagnoses when the couple was more interested in their potential for living a fulfilling life.”
Participants in the study report feeling pressure from health professionals they encountered to abort, or else that they were presented with overly negative information about their babies.
The research found that “couples felt that termination of pregnancy had been taken for granted following the diagnosis: ‘As the obstetrician sat down, she put those abortion application forms on the table in front of her’”, recalls a mother.
Even conveying apparently neutral information, such as presenting what other couples generally do, can condition parents. We tend to imitate others. Social expectations can be subtle and unconscious.
“Maybe there’s something wrong with me since I don’t just do what 98pc of all people would do”, said a Danish mother in the study, who decided to have the baby.
“The high percentage of terminations in Denmark was a source of doubt and uncertainty during the decision-making process. This left the couples feeling vulnerable”, it notes.
“Why is Down Syndrome the disability [considered] socially acceptable to terminate? And how do we come back from that?”, asks actress Sally Phillips in her documentary “Prenatal Genetic Testing” where she investigates how Non-Invasive Prenatal Tests have increased the number of babies with DS, and other genetic or chromosomal anomalies, who are being aborted. Phillips has a son with Down Syndrome.
These tests, which can take place in the first trimester of pregnancy, are becoming more affordable and available. They can be used to prepare families to welcome a child with medical anomalies, or they can be used to get rid of them, as almost always happens when a diagnosis of DS is given. A proper ethical debate about those prenatal tests has still to happen in Ireland.
In a society that has normalised abortion, the main way to fight the progressive elimination of children with DS is for doctors to portray life with the condition, and life for the parents of such a child, in far more positive terms than seems to be the case at the moment. The medical professionals claim to be neutral about their use, but being not directive isn’t enough when society goes in one direction only.
Certainly, a national debate is called for.
Government recognising commercial surrogacy in all but name https://familysolidarity.org/government-recognising-commercial-surrogacy-in-all-but-name/
These are all my non-academic articles published in 2022
4th January 2022
‘An important voice is raised up against Assisted Suicide’
7th January 2022
“The deadly inaccuracy of many prenatal tests”
11th January 2022
“Countries requiring vaccine passport to attend worship”
14th January 2022
“The female victims of anti-Christian persecution”
19th January 2022
“In Austria pharmacies are now allowed to sell suicide drugs”
26th January 2022
“A big victory for the rights of parents”
1st February 2022
“Officials warn against commercial overseas surrogacy”
4th February 2022
‘How during the pandemic couples have changed their plans to have children’
8th February 2022
“Radical assisted suicide organisation opens in Ireland to almost no reaction”
22nd February 2022
‘Here is a little science: religious practice is good for you’
23rd February 2022
‘Vendesi pillola per il suicidio fai-da-te nelle farmacie austriache’
4th March 2022
‘A new Irish law will allow for deliberate creation of semi-orphans’
9th March 2022
‘The review of the operation of Ireland’s abortion law’
10th March 2022
““do-it-yourself” Selbstmordpille in Osterreichischen Apotheken verkauft’
11th March 2022
‘Una soluzione alla “maternità surrogata” c’è: divieto totale’
22nd March 2022
‘A landmark victory for a pro-life doctor’
29th March 2022
‘A non-debate in the Dail about the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill’
5th April 2022
‘Europe’s growing anti-Christian intolerance problem’
12th April 2022
‘Oireachtas Committee told harsh facts of life about commercial surrogacy’
20th April 2022
‘An extreme exclusion zone law is debated in the Seanad’
26th April 2022
‘Yet another study confirms the benefit of religious practice’
9th May 2022
‘Marriage in Ireland continues its decline’
13th May 2022
‘How religious sisters are the real founders of modern nursing’
17th May 2022
‘Catholic healthcare better than the secular alternative’
24th May 2022
‘The poor state of marriage across the EU’
31st May 2022
‘Forcing religious run health centres to allow assisted suicide’
7th June 2022
‘Conscientious objection to abortion remains strong in Irish hospitals’
24th June 2022
‘Number of abortions in England hits new record of 214,869’
28th June 2022
‘Why Roe vs Wade was overturned’
5th July 2022
‘Ireland plays along another charade at the UN’
11th July 2022
‘The appalling recommendations of the surrogacy committee’
14th July 2022
‘More than 7,000 Irish women had abortions last year’
18th July 2022
‘The appalling recommendations of the surrogacy committee’
20th July 2022
‘Pro-choice campaigners no longer care how many abortions take place’
26th July 2022
‘The radical approach to sex education backed by the HSE’
29th July 2022
‘L’Irlanda sta legalizzando l’”utero in affitto”’
‘Italy to legalize uterus for rent’
31st July 2022
‘L’Irlande va légalizer la location d’utérus’
10th August 2022
’10,000 Canadians died by euthanasia last year’
12th August 2022
‘Archie Battersbee case was not black or white’
19th August 2022
‘Liberals still ignore the fact that family structure matters’
26th August 2022
‘Political ideology as a substitute for religion’
14th September 2022
‘Why governments should pay more attention to family stability’
17th September 2022
‘Più l’eutanasia è legale, più ammazza senza motivo’
21st September 2022
‘Exploring the link between family breakdown and anti-social behaviour’
23rd September 2022
‘Exploring the link between family breakdown and anti-social behaviour’
24th September 2022
‘The more euthanasia is legal the more it kills for no reason’
27th September 2022
‘Plus l’euthanasie est légale plus elle tue sans raison’
‘Government’s latest legislative programme bad news for pro-lifers’
3rd October 2022
‘The coming depopulation bomb’
6th October 2022
‘Je legaler die Euthanasie, desto mehr Menschen werden ohne Grund getötet’
10th October 2022
‘A partial victory for the right to life in European court’
15th October 2022
‘The happiness gap between conservatives and liberals’
21st October 2022
‘HSE pushes for exclusion zones outside abortion facilities’
28th October 2022
‘Poor mental health among young people linked to decline of religion’
11th November 2022
‘Extreme pro-abortion measures passed in three US states’
18th November 2022
‘How Covid curbs on church going harmed public health’
23rd November 2022
‘An Ireland without Down Syndrome’
28th November 2022
‘New report highlights worsening persecution of Christians’
7th December 2022
‘Canada slides right down the assisted suicide slippery slope’
16th December 2022
‘Government recognising commercial surrogacy in all but name’
CW long post, original content
An Ireland without Down Syndrome
The Master of the Rotunda, Professor Fergal Malone, has revealed that up to 95pc of parents who are informed by the hospital that their unborn babies have Down Syndrome (DS) opt for abortion. This is a horrifying figure that appears to have soared since the abortion referendum even though the terminations in these instances are performed mostly in England.
What is happening is, of course, a modern-day version of eugenics. We are creating an Ireland without Down Syndrome and it is provoking almost no debate or reaction.
Professor Malone mentioned the figure of 95pc to the Irish Independent last week, but in the run-up to the 2018 referendum, he told RTE’s Liveline that the figure was 56pc. This is a massive increase in a short period.
Rather than being shocked at what is happening, pro-choice activists want the abortion law changed so that unborn babies with non-fatal abnormalities can be aborted for that reason specifically.
These figures refer to the Rotunda, one of the biggest maternity hospitals in the country, where Malone is the Master, but there are no reasons to suppose rates being substantially different in other hospitals. We don’t know for sure if a similar percentage of parents from other maternity hospitals abort these babies, but it would not be at all surprising if it was also very high. The latest figure for England is 88pc.
In 2018, Dr Rhona Mahony, who was then Master of the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street, was asked whether there would be an increase in abortions of babies with Down Syndrome if the 8th amendment was repealed. She didn’t give a clear answer, but she said that in her hospital at the time about half of the women told their unborn baby had DS opted to go to England for a termination.
When, during the campaign to save the 8th amendment, the pro-life side highlighted the fact that in countries with liberal abortion laws a very high percentage of babies with DS are aborted, we were accused of using these children for political purposes.
Prominent pro-repeal advocates were in denial.
Simon Harris, who was then the Minister for Health, said: “I do not believe women in this country adopt that approach when they have a diagnosis of a child with a disability. … I think it is somewhat offensive to suggest women in Ireland are seeking abortions for that reason.”
Irish Times columnist, Fintan O’Toole, wrote: “It is not true that the increase in screening has wiped out the births of DS children. … Admittedly access to screening in Ireland is problematic, but even so the numbers of Irish women taking this option is strikingly small.”
He was wrong then, as I explained in this blog, and even more nowadays, as the figures from prof. Malone prove.
What has increased since the referendum is not only the percentage of DS diagnoses ending in terminations but obviously their absolute number as well. This is driven in part by the fact that it has become easier to detect chromosomal or genetic anomalies through earlier prenatal testing.
In the UK, the number of babies born with Down Syndrome has fallen by 30pc in NHS hospitals that have introduced early screening.
Prenatal tests are becoming more common and affordable. Their number in Holles Street maternity hospital went from 1,005 in 2012 to 2,515 in 2021.
Irish women still go to England when they want to abort a baby with a non-fatal abnormality, unless it detected before 12 weeks, when abortions can take place for any reason.
We don’t have absolute figures of abortions for non-fatal disabilities in Ireland, but Irish women generally go abroad because this kind of termination is permitted here only before the 12-week limit and most of diagnoses of foetal abnormality happen afterwards.
In 2021, 59 Irish babies with Down Syndrome were aborted in England, 24 more than the year before (35). This number continues to grow, as predicted by the prolife activists who were accused of scaremongering. The figures were 27 in 2019 and 17 in 2018.
Would Down Syndrome Ireland and other similar organisations have anything to say?
The current law in Ireland allows abortions at any gestational age when the baby has a condition that could cause its death within 28 days from birth, or earlier. Before 12 weeks, abortion is allowed for any reason.
Dr Aoife Mullally, who leads the HSE’s abortion services, wants a relaxation of the law and allow abortion for not life-threatening disabilities after 12 weeks. This is eugenics for disabled babies. It is not clear if she would accept any time limits.
Prof. Malone supports such relaxation but acknowledges that this can only happen by legislating for abortion on grounds of disability. He believes that if this was proposed before the 2018 referendum, as per the recommendation of the Citizens’ Assembly, the vote in favour of repeal would not have been so high.
Liberals will always ask for more relaxations. For them, abortion for disabilities is not a taboo anymore. They might not like the word, but this is pure eugenics, the selection of the fittest.
CW Long post. (Original content)
The coming ‘depopulation bomb’
A moral transformation, rather than social policies, will stop the de-population bomb claims Dr Nicholas Eberstadt, an expert in demography, in a new interview called the ‘De-Population Bomb’.
For years we have been warned of the dangers of an increasing world population (the so-called ‘population bomb’), but what happens when it shrinks, instead? This is already happening in many Western countries, he points out. Ireland has a fast-ageing population. Only large-scale immigration will stop it shrinking in the years ahead.
The United States, for example, was at replacement level (2.1 children per couple) or slightly above up to 2008. This means that there were sufficient births to compensate deaths, without taking into consideration immigration. Since then, the number of births per woman has gone down, particularly during the Covid pandemic. Ireland fertility rate is now about 1.7.
“If current trends continue, the United States would be on a track to shrink 20 percent for each generation”, warns Eberstadt, who a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of several studies on demography.
The European Union, Russia and China are experiencing the same demographic decline. So is all of East Asia, lead by Japan.
In Ireland, as Budget 2023 was being unveiled last week, the Department of Finance said that to maintain the current levels of public service we need an additional €8 billion in public expenditure each year by 2030.
“An ageing population will involve significant fiscal costs simply to ‘stand-still’”, said a risk assessment document.
In simple words, we need more young people working for the rest, particularly for those who have retired. Ideally, the size of the younger generations should exceed older ones but our demographic trends are going in the opposite direction.
Dr Eberstadt claims that the US federal spending is becoming untenable. “Today’s consumption for seniors is being financed by the unborn”.
One solution is more immigration, he says, but, even without considering the morality of depriving poorer countries of their workforce, this population policy does not always succeed in its intended purposes. He comments on the European experience: “The work rates are lower for the foreign-born than for the native-born in most European countries, the educational qualifications of working-age Europeans are typically lower for the foreign-born, and “non-EU foreign-born” youth are far more likely to be neither employed nor in education or training. The EU’s assimilation problem also looks to be intergenerational: throughout Europe, children of non-EU immigrants are generally more likely than their parents — not less likely — to see themselves as victims of group discrimination.”
In other words, large sections of the immigrant populations of parts of Europe are experiencing alienation, which often drives crime rates, and then voter backlash, as we have seen recently in Sweden.
Assimilation works better in the United States, Eberstadt claims, but immigration cannot be the only population policy to maintain demographic sustainability.
Dr Eberstadt is sceptical about subsidies and tax relief for families. He claims that “incentives to boost birth rates are likely to be costly and to elicit only modest and perhaps fleeting demographic results”.
Referring to the Scandinavian experience, where birth rates are mostly high relative to the European average (but still below replacement level), he talks about the “Swedish roller coaster”, i.e. the birth rate goes up just after a new subsidy is introduced, but then it goes back further below where it was before. What has to be changed instead, he maintains, is the people’s desire about the size of their families. This has been previously pointed out in this Iona Institute blog: https://ionainstitute.ie/only-a-social-revolution-can-reverse-falling-birth-rates/
The best indicator for fertility rates is how many children women want, but this does not depend on economic conditions. Richer people do not have more children. The most affluent and productive society that humanity has ever seen has also the lowest fertility rates.
“Children are not convenient. We have moved into a world in which convenience is prized and in which constraints on personal autonomy are increasingly viewed as onerous”.
What is needed instead is a change in values. The desire for larger families depends on the appreciation of family values.
Dr Eberstadt believes that an ageing and declining population will experience the opposite: pessimism, hesitance, dependence, self-indulgence, resentment, and division.
We can change the head count with immigration, but it will work only temporarily if immigrants embrace the same mentality that causes depopulation, he says. We need instead a moral transformation so that people are confident and brave enough to maintain a natural rate of replacement for society.
CW Long post. Original content.
How Covid curbs on church-going harmed public health
During the Covid-19 pandemic, people were barred in many countries from attending religious worship for long periods, and nowhere more so than in Ireland. When they were not barred, severe restrictions were put on the numbers who could attend. But strictly from a public health perspective, was it worth it? An important new study (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014292122001672) suggest it was not, and the restrictions may have done more public health harm than good.
The research, just published in the European Economic Review is based on a nationally representative sample of over 100,000 responses from 52,459 individuals in the United States. It was carried out during the period from March 2020 to May 2021, when most American States limited the number who could attend a house of worship.
A crucial finding of the study is that the severe restrictions on religious worship do not seem to have slowed the spread of the virus.
It says: “there is no statistically or economically significant association between restrictions on houses of worship and either COVID-19 infections or deaths regardless of how restrictions are measured”. (p. 12)
The article concludes that “there is almost no evidence that the restrictions had a positive effect on public health, consistent with a growing body of evidence that has evaluated the launch of State quarantine policies.” (p. 12)
But the restrictions or ban on public worship did harm the mental health of some worshippers.
The author focuses on two variables: current life satisfaction and self-isolation.
The study confirmed that religious people have higher level of current life satisfaction overall, compared to the rest of the population. This is partly achieved by being part of a religious community. Therefore, it is no surprise that is also found a “strong negative association between state restrictions and current life satisfaction, particularly for religious adherents.” (p. 6).
If one of the main sources of their wellbeing was removed, how could it be otherwise?
The author notes that going to a church, or attending any other religious venue, offers people the opportunity to forge relationships and grow stronger in their faith. The survey established that the restrictions had “a disproportionate impact on self-isolation among religious adherents.” (p. 7)
Self-isolation among religious people increased by more than among their non-religious counterparts. This is one of the reasons why their well-being suffered more as a result of the pandemic.
The decline in well-being was stronger in Catholic than in Protestant congregations, and non-existent among Mormons, who are concentrated in Utah where no significant restrictions were put into place.
The main result of the study is that “religious adherents experienced systematically lower levels of well-being and isolation following the adoption of such restrictions.” (p. 11)
The study focuses on the United States only. It would be interesting to see such research extended to other countries, particularly to Ireland that had the longest period of worship restrictions in Europe.
Throwback on FAFCE conference on the protection of children from online pornography https://familysolidarity.org/972-2/
Religious practice makes us happy
Religious practice makes us happy, says Laurie Santos who teaches classes on the psychology of happiness at Yale University.
In an interview with the New York Times magazine, the popular cognitive scientist discusses what contributes to our happiness and, among other factors, she mentions religion.
She reckons that practising religious makes people happy. “There’s a lot of evidence that religious people are happier in a sense of life satisfaction and positive emotion in the moment”, she says.
But Santos also claims that religious people are happier not so much because of their beliefs but because of their actions. Being religiously active means to engage in social connection, to volunteer, to feel belonging to a community, to develop a sense of meaningful life together with those with kindred principles.
We get benefits not from theological principles but from the commitment to our group, she says.
This claim rebukes two common opinions among the critics of organised religion. Not only it contradicts the allegation that religion is repressive and detrimental, but it also confirms that it is organised religion - and not just spirituality – that makes us happy. Belief is not sufficient. In order to be beneficial, religious practice has to happen in some organised form, within a group.
“You need a cultural apparatus around the behaviour change”, she tells in the interview. This apparatus has two elements: theological principles and commitment to the group but the latter “doesn’t have to come with a set of spiritual beliefs”, she claims.
In another interview she explains that religious traditions induce us to do acts of charity, having gratitude, being in communities where we connect with others. All those actions give us a boost, but nonbelievers can get a boost from those habits, too.
Her position is problematic, nonetheless, for two reasons.
Firstly, it seems she suggests that all beliefs are equal and what matters most is the cultural apparatus around them. “Could someone get as much benefit from actively participating in a white-nationalist militia as he could be actively participating in a Quaker church?", asks the journalist.
In her reply, prof. Santos explains that she won’t advocate for such organisations, but she reckons that they give a sense of meaning and belonging to those who are involved in them.
Moreover, her claim that the benefits of religion can come from some substitutes is not convincing. Being involved in communal activities - from playing sport to engage in active politics- gives purpose and sense of belonging but I doubt it can be as meaningful as knowing that God is our Father and we are loved by him. They don't bring happiness, unless we understand happiness in a very narrow sense, as some kind of temporary pleasant experience.
People give up their lives more often for their religious faith than for their golf team or stamps club. Not all communal activities are equally valuable.
In any case, it is good to have one of the main gurus of the “science of happiness” confirming international studies which have shown that the level of happiness cross-correlates with the level of religiosity.
The contribution of religion to mental health and wellbeing is well established, and some surveys suggest that Christians are the happiest among the faith groups.
But one could say that the primary purpose of religion is not happiness in this life but to make us closer to God. It has positive effects, but these are not the best motivation for practising a faith.
Religion can be dangerous; it might involve persecution.
Still, those who suffer because of their faith do not abandon it, because they believe it is true even when it doesn’t make them happy.
It is good to pursue happiness, but it doesn’t lead us to God. Seek God, instead, and you will find happiness.
New genetic selection techniques will facilitate eugenics
The genetic selection of human embryos is reaching new levels of sophistication and depravity with the development of a technique called ‘polygenic screening’, based on statistical scores. Eugenics, which is breeding out the ‘defective’, is deepening its grip on our societies.
The new method is a step above current screening processes that can detect conditions like Down Syndrome.
Last year, the embryo of baby girl Aurea was chosen over other embryos who had more chance of developing certain medical conditions in the future, using a “polygenic risk score”.
The screening of human embryos artificially created in laboratory through IVF is quite common.
Tests are offered for genetic or chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down Syndrome, and only the unaffected embryos are implanted in the womb, while the other are destroyed.
When similar screening tests are performed during pregnancies, they generally lead to abortion.
This is a clear form of human selection on the basis of health characteristics, also known as eugenics.
So far, those tests were focusing on diseases caused by a single gene, but some conditions are triggered by the interaction of many genes.
A new technique based on “polygenic risk scores” (PRS), which has been employed for the first time with success, tests the presence of many genes.
In simple words, the new test analyses the gene-sequency of an individual and estimates the probability that some conditions will develop later in life.
As the link between some genes and certain medical conditions is only probabilistic, these new techniques are based on statistical data and they have only become possible in very recent years with the development of large databases of genetic information.
As it develops, preimplantation genetic testing is likely to be able to predict not only health, but also other characteristics related to our genes, such as intelligence, psychological traits, personality types, learning disabilities, height, etc.
Commissioning couples, but also single individuals, will be able to pick any physical or psychological trait linked to genetic and to ‘order’ their ideal child. In a society where choice is everything, who will stop them?
This is one further step down an extremely unethical path that aims at eliminating imperfect human beings. It is immoral not only because it destroys humans at embryonic stage, but also because it perpetuates the false assumption that some lives are not worth living when they have certain unwanted characteristics.
The defenders of these techniques are quite honest about the eugenicist nature of genetic selection.
Oxford university philosopher Julian Savulescu proposes a “welfarist model” of polygenic scores that select for traits associated with well-being.
He writes: “[Tests] to select against genetic conditions … such as Down Syndrome, are common and are even publicly funded, implying not only assent, but active support for allowing prospective parents to select against these conditions. Selection on the basis of polygenetic scores, if it is well correlated and causally linked to a welfare threshold with important bearing on the future’s child well-being is ethically equivalent to these. Indeed, allowing selection on the basis of only some genetic conditions may be discriminatory. It would be consistent with an anti-eugenic stance to reject all form of selection.”
Savulescu has no problem with eugenics, as long as “there is no broad social goal or coercion employed”.
Do we really need to wait until it becomes imposed by the state before we realise how immoral eugenic?
I teach #philosophy and work as a researcher for the Iona Institute (www.ionainstitute.ie) Abruzzese. #Distributism
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