ISSUES - Bioethics


Remarkable advances in biotechnology have led to vast improvements in the treatment of disease, disabilities, the mitigation of pain and suffering, and increased life expectancy. However, along with modern medical progress come a myriad of serious ethical questions and concerns that surround the taking, making and faking of human life.

The taking of human life begins with destructive embryonic stem cell research and the disposal of embryos created and wasted in fertility treatments. Pre-natal genetic testing is used to identify unborn babies that may have a disability or disorder and targets them for elimination in eugenic abortion. Assisted suicide and euthanasia take life before its natural end.

The challenge to human dignity and respect for life increases as technology to make life is perfected, including the manipulation of life in the petri dish in the search of the perfect “designer baby”. Sperm donation poses unique ethical concerns while women, especially in developing countries, are exploited for harvesting of their eggs and rental of their wombs in desperate attempts at parenthood.

Surrogacy is fraught with ethical dilemmas as children are reduced to mere commodities in a ‘baby-making industry’ that allows the terms of a business contract to supersede the best interests of the individual child.

Cloning results in the faking of life as reproductive cloning makes a copy of another human destroying the unique integrity of that person, and so-called “therapeutic” cloning creates a genetic twin whose cells are used for medical treatment for its twin, causing the demise of the cloned twin.

Parliamentarians and others face increased challenges to the dignity of life from advances in biotechnology and must ask tough questions: Just because something can be done, should it? What are the ethical boundaries? Does the end justify the means?

PNCI agrees with the former chairman of President G.W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, Dr. Edmund Pellegrino of Georgetown University, who stated: "To advance human good and avoid harm, biotechnology must be used within ethical constraints. It is the task of bioethics to help society develop those constraints and bioethics, therefore, must be of concern to all of us."


Bioethics Defense Fund

National Catholic Bioethics Center

President’s Council on Bioethics

The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network