Monday, November 16. 2015
When I was in my teens, my parents were editors of the International Review of Natural Family Planning. They would sit across the kitchen table from each other and read out each article word by word, punctuation by punctuation, making sure that the typeset matched the original manuscript before publication. This meant that every day after school, while I was making a PB&J, I was bombarded by words like "coitus" and "mucus." It was an interesting experience to say the least.
Looking back I am proud that my parents were part of a movement focused on women's health. A movement that spent years researching the menstrual cycle and gave us the fertility awareness techniques we enjoy today.
Those techniques are getting even more tech-savvy. Similar to the Fit Bit which tracks daily activity and sleep patterns, there are new wearable technologies that will use natural family planning methods to help us women track our cycles. From Wearable.com's very unfortunately titled "The Quantified Woman":
Over the past few years, fertility tracking apps, like Clue and Glow, have been slowly evolving from souped-up calendars to holistic data centres. Instead of collecting a list of dates and filling our screens with pink butterfly designs, they are now smart, usable and effective; more recently employing the help of separate wearable devices to make data tracking even more accurate....Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Monday, November 2. 2015
The United Kingdom has taken one step closer to creating children with three genetic parents. Last week legislation that will allow fertility clinics to conduct “mitochondrial replacement” in human embryos went into effect.
“Mitochondrial replacement” (MR) is a group of techniques that aim to genetically engineer embryos to be without certain types of mitochondria disease. Mitochondria are organelles in our cells that produce energy. They have their own DNA called mtDNA. We inherit our mtDNA, which is separate from the DNA in the nucleus of the cells, only from our mother. If a woman has a mutation in her mtDNA that causes disease, she cannot help but pass that on to her children.
MR techniques essentially create embryos with the genetic material from three people – two women and one man. In one MR procedure, a donor egg is emptied of its nucleus leaving healthy mitochondria behind. The nucleus of the woman with mitochondrial disease is placed inside and that genetically-engineered egg is fertilized with the father’s sperm.
MR is considered germ-line genetic engineering because any girl conceived with this technique will pass this modification onto her offspring. Germ-line genetic engineering is illegal in the UK. Earlier this year, Parliament voted to allow MR in fertility clinics despite that ban on germ-line genetic engineering. Last week that change took effect.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Friday, October 23. 2015
I cannot believe that I have been at this for ten years. My youngest child is ten, which means I was a novice blogger furiously typing over her adorable little body while I was nursing. I am sure I had unrealistic dreams of glory and fame. Crazy.
In my very first post in August of 2005 I wrote:
Recently, I was discussing stem cells and cloning with an older gentleman at a family party. He was very knowledgeable about biotechnology, but was surprised about many little-known and quite misleading facts. He asked where I had gathered those facts, and I told him I was reading every pertinent scientific reference I could get my hands on. He looked me in the eye and said, “Young lady, it is not good enough to read, you must do something!” I found out later he was a former U.S. congressman from California.I think I have succeeded some what in my goal: to help everyday Catholics understand the science and ethics that surround all of the modern biotechnology that seems to move faster and faster every year.
It hasn't been an easy decade. Many times I threw my hands up in frustration and nearly quit. If I have learned one thing about the Catholic blogging community is that we don't always treat each other as Christians should. I have realized that some times I don't need enemies when I have friends like these.
It hasn't been all bad, of course. Many of you have written to me to thank me for tackling difficult and sensitive subjects, and for telling it like it is in plain and simple English. I am very lucky to have the support of the National Catholic Register, LifeNews, and Creative Minority Report. These very special people see the need to not hide our heads in the sand when it comes to big, scary, biotech, and I appreciate that they have given me a voice.
For a decade, I have rejected ads on my blog and have never had a "Donate" button. I felt blessed to have found what I feel God has intended for me. That has been enough to keep me going. In the past, I have only asked for your prayers.
But since I feel this is an auspicious time, I have placed a donate button below. If you have ever really loved one of my pieces and feel like you would like to contribute to my work, please feel free to donate. As the kids get older (and more expensive) and bills pile up, it is getting harder and harder to justify working so hard on a ministry that pays so little. Any amount will help me to continue doing what I do everyday.
May God bless you all. Here is to another ten years!
Friday, October 16. 2015
The University of San Francisco (USF) is my alma mater. My name is on a plaque in the chemistry office for my academic exploits while I was there. Along with a degree in chemistry, I also got a whopping student loan debt that may never get paid off, but that is another topic for another time.
When people ask me if they should send their children there, I answer with an unequivocal "No!" USF should be a shining light in a city hell-bent on self-destruction through decadence. This Catholic university is called to be a literal foghorn calling out the truth in darkness. Instead it is no more than a child mimicking her surroundings simply so that she can fit in.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Tuesday, October 6. 2015
This is the age of the non-invasive prenatal tests, called NIPTs for short. NIPTs look at minute quantities of fetal DNA floating in a pregnant mother’s blood. With these small pieces of DNA scientists can look for genetic abnormalities in the fetus. The tests are “non-invasive” because they only require a blood sample from mom.
Monday, September 28. 2015
The Catholic Church is perceived to be anti-science. That perception is completely false, of course. The Church is one of the few institutions left that actually looks at human biology and acknowledges the facts. And I am not just talking about the fact that a new genetically distinct human organism is created when fertilization is complete. (In layman's terms, new life begins at conception.)
In our hook-up culture, the Church also acknowledges that it is called the "reproductive" system not the "recreation" system for a reason. Biologically speaking, sex is not a recreational activity.
The Church is also one of few voices that warns about the dangers of surrogacy. Even if done altruistically, surrogacy turns women and children into objects: the woman is just an oven; the child is just a bun.
And yet, the biology of carrying a child in your womb simply cannot be denied. Those precious months are designed to have mother bond with child, even if the woman knows the child is not hers. The damage of severing that bond at birth can last a lifetime.
The UK's Daily Mail has published some anonymous confessions of surrogates that are quite illuminating. Even though these women know that they have to give the child away, they cannot help but become attached.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Friday, September 25. 2015
In the latest BioTalk, Chelsea and I discuss the use of fetal stem cells and fetal organs in medical research. This is an issue we cannot ignore. If we do, there will a generation of medical treatments, maybe even organ transplants, that will be supplied by abortions. Imagine a time when you, or a loved one, are faced with the horrifying reality that the life-saving treatment being offered came directly from the ending of an innocent life.
There are alternatives. We must demand that researchers get their "raw materials" from ethical sources, or we will have a medical system that is inextricably linked to the abortion industry.
Monday, September 14. 2015
New genetic engineering techniques are going to revolutionize medicine. They may also irrevocably change mankind if we are not careful.
No one debates using these new amazing techniques like CRISPR for individual patients to fight disease. The problem lies in the engineering of embryos. Why? Because in genetic engineering, it is not just the what, but the when that matters.
Any modification that is introduced early enough in development is a germ-line modification. That means a modification that is not just for that embryo, but for their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and so on. Genetically engineering embryos means genetically altering every generation after.
Many scientists around the world have called for a voluntary moratorium on using gene-editing techniques on human embryos, even for therapeutic reasons. They rightfully hold that such modifications are a step too far. As the head of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis Collins, explains:
The concept of altering the human germline [inherited DNA] in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed.Why, you might ask, is this a “line that should not be crossed”? There are many reasons, but I like to think of it like this. I am a parent. I have the legal and moral authority to authorize invasive medical procedures for my children. Yet germ-line genetic engineering would not just be for my child, but for my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren and so on.
Continue reading at LifeNews.com>>
Wednesday, September 9. 2015
It is rare in today's politically correct society that someone says what they really feel. So I applaud transhumanist Steven Fuller for telling it like it is. Unfortunately, his ideas are terrifying.
Fuller has a written a post, titled "We May Look Crazy to Them, But They Look Like Zombies to Us: Transhumanism as a Political Challenge" where he calls everyone who is not on the transhumanist train a "zombie":
So let’s be clear about who these naysayers are. They hold the following views:Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Thursday, August 27. 2015
This is the cover of the current issue of The Economist.
I am sure this is resonating with moms and dads everywhere who are excited about the possibilities of genetic engineering. Parents want the best for their children. We spend money on swimming lessons, piano lessons, tutors, private coaches and the latest gadgets so that they will have an edge over the other kids. We want them to succeed.
But what about going beyond lessons and gadgets and actively giving children a genetic advantage with germ-line genetic enhancements. Sounds fantastic doesn't it? Having the smartest, fastest and best looking children on the block.
Logically, this is about as far as most people get before they say, "Sign me and my kids up!" But ask yourself what enhancing our children really means. It means being trapped forever in a dangerous biological game of "Keeping up with the Jones."
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Wednesday, August 19. 2015
The hidden camera footage reveals the Indian restaurant is crowded, and the ambient noise of fellow diners all around makes it hard to hear. But Gianna Toboni, an investigative reporter from HBO’s documentary show VICE, slowly begins to understand what is being offered to her by a woman sitting across the table.
Toboni is in India to get a firsthand look at the country’s booming international surrogacy industry. She has heard rumors of “extra” Caucasian babies for sale, so she meets a surrogacy broker for dinner. On camera, the broker, holding a swaddled infant, tells Toboni she can take the baby home tonight — for a price.
The source of these “extra” babies is beyond horrifying. Western couples are taking advantage of the discounts international surrogacy offers. They get a baby gestated for them at a low price, and the women in third-world countries get more money than they could make in several years.
To make the process more efficient, doctors often transfer more than one embryo to a surrogate. If she gets pregnant with multiples, sometimes the commissioning couple is not told. Nine months later, they fly in and get the one baby they paid for. The “extras,” however, are peddled on the black market. While the couple thinks they’re getting a miracle at a bargain price, they are unaware that their “extra” children are being sold to whoever is willing to pay.
Continue reading the National Catholic Register>>
Thursday, August 13. 2015
As a follow up to yesterday's post at LifeNews on the biotech company Ganogen that plans to use organs from aborted fetuses for organ transplants, I found this Q&A on Reddit with Ganogen's CEO, Eugene Gu. It is very enlightening.
It is clear that Gu is concerned with ethics, as are the readers, but his and other's ethics are utilitarian. Gu repeatedly justifies using organs from abortion because the "tissue" is "medical waste" and therefore would be discarded. The reality is that we are all going end up being "medical waste." We do not permit the harvesting of organs where a human life is intentionally ended. Otherwise, we would be harvesting organs from death row inmates.
One reader does point out that Ganogen's advances will create an incentive for more abortions and possibly will create a system that exploits women. Gu dismisses the concern pointing out there are plenty of aborted fetuses to go around.
Gu also repeatedly mentions all of the research that is currently going on with fetal body parts procured from abortion. He also uses that as a justification. Evils of the past do not justify evils in the future.
Another reader brings up the fact that some fetal cell lines used in research today are "immortal" meaning new abortions are not needed to keep the cell line going. That is not the case with Ganogen's approach, but Gu still equates them morally.
What I find disturbing is that the majority of readers see no problem harvesting organs from the unborn and using them for others. It is a testament to how twisted our culture has become that the revelation that formed human organs are present at 17 weeks gestation does not make people realize that abortion is the taking of an innocent human life.
Here are some highlights from the conversation:
MorfolkUp until last week Ganogen's website was upfront about the fact that their research used organs from aborted fetuses. The archived site is still available. But their new website stresses that they are non-profit and has removed any mention of aborted fetal organs. This is likely due to the exposure of the fetal body part market in the Center for Medical Progress videos.
What this indicates is that Ganogen is no longer comfortable letting the public know what they are up to. I have found this attitude all over the biotech industry. There are many educated elite who think the public should not be informed about such things. We should be ignorant for our own good. Case in point the following thread:
What is even more disturbing is the fact that Gu thinks we pro-lifers have situational ethics. He suggests we would drop our objections the minute we need an organ transplant:
tigersharkwushenThat is where all this fetal tissue research is going to end up. Pro-lifers will not be able to take advantage of medical advances because researchers choose to use material from abortions for their research. I, for one, reject that scenario. If researchers are looking to help the greatest number of people they should be trying to use materials that are without controversy. Apparently, they think we won't care in the end. They are wrong.
Wednesday, August 12. 2015
Will organ transplants be coming from aborted babies? They will if Ganogen Inc., a California Company, has their way. And Planned Parenthood and Stem Express will likely be partners in that chain that provides organs for transplant taken from aborted babies.
Ganogen’s vision to deal with the shortage of transplant organs is to the harvest organs from aborted fetuses and transfer them into animals to get them to grow large enough to use as a replacement organs for needy patients. Ganogen announced earlier this year that they were able to take a kidney from an aborted fetus and transplant it into a rat. That human fetal kidney was able to keep the rat alive for four months. Their research has been published in the American Journal of Transplantation.
Eugene Gu, the founder and CEO of Ganogen, told Medical Daily in an e-mail, “Our long-term goal is indeed to have these organs ready for transplant into human patients. However, that would require a large animal model such as a pig rather than a rat.” Medical Daily is clear Ganogen fetal kidneys came from aborted fetuses.
LiveScience also reports that Ganogen procured their fetal organs from Stem Express, the for-profit middleman that provides the tissue and organs “donated” by Planned Parenthood to medical researchers. Stem Express was mentioned by Deborah Nucatola in one of the explosive videos by the Center for Medical Progress that have exposed the market in aborted baby parts.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Tuesday, August 4. 2015
The Scientist recently ran commentary by John D. Loike questioning the ethics of transplanting human brains cells into other species. The piece entitled "When Does a Smart Mouse Become Human?" begins describing the research at the University of Rochester where mice were injected with glial cells from human fetuses. Glial cells are cells that support neurons in the nervous systems. The mice incorporated these glial cells into their brain and "outperformed normal mice almost fourfold in a variety of cognition tests."
The researchers stressed that the mice still had mouse brains, saying “This does not provide the animals with additional capabilities that could in any way be ascribed or perceived as specifically human. Rather, the human cells are simply improving the efficiency of the mouse’s own neural networks. It’s still a mouse.”
But the mixing of human brain cells with those of other species, especially those of other primates, raise serious ethical considerations. These issues are important and Loike discusses them.
What Loike does not discuss is ethical implications of the source of the human brain cells used in this research. The paper in Journal of Neuroscience clearly states that the glial cells came from second trimester abortions:
For xenograft of human fetal GPCs, cells were extracted from second-trimester human fetuses (18–22 weeks gestation age) obtained at abortion. The forebrain ventricular/subventricular zones were dissected from the brain, the samples chilled on ice, minced and dissociated using papain/DNase, as described previously (Roy et al., 1999, 2000), always within 3 h of extraction. The dissociates were maintained overnight in minimal media of DMEM/F12/N1 with 10 ng/ml bFGF. Samples were deidentified and obtained with the approval of the University of Rochester Research Subjects Review Board.The explosive Center for Medical Progress videos have exposed the market in aborted baby parts. This is where some aborted babies have ended up: dissected, minced up and transplanted into mice.
I can confidently say that the mice did not need the human brain tissue as much as the baby did.
It is time to take our heads out of the sand. There is plenty of research that is being performed with aborted fetuses. In this case, scientists hope that this model model will help illuminate the contribution of glial cells to human neurological disorders. It is a noble goal, but the source of the glial cells morally taints all their research. They could have used cells from ethical sources like a natural miscarriage, but they did not.
We need to stop using tissue from abortion in research. If we don't there will likely be medical advancements that pro-lifers cannot in good conscience use because they are tainted with the blood of innocents.
Thursday, July 16. 2015
It has been several years since the height of the stem-cell controversy, where every day debate raged over the destruction of embryos for embryonic stem cells. These human embryos, conceived in a lab by the hundreds of thousands, are only days old but hold inside a mass of stem cells that scientists told us held the key to regenerative medicine.
These little lives, no bigger than the period at the end of a sentence, were deemed disposable, easily sacrificed to advance medical treatments for everything from paralysis to Parkinson’s.
In the great stem-cells wars, we learned that embryonic stem cells are immature and unwieldy, causing tumors in animal models. Adult stem cells, on the other hand, are more stable — and therefore safer for treating patients. As the years have passed, we have heard more and more about adult stem-cell successes and less and less about the failure of embryonic stem cells to become the cure-all many promised.
But the stem-cell wars are far from over. There is a third designation of stem cells that is little known but is gaining momentum: the fetal stem cell. Human beings are called embryos for the first eight weeks after fertilization. After that, we enter the fetal stage, which is from nine weeks post-fertilization until birth. Fetal stem cells are stem cells harvested during the fetal stage of development.
Fetal stem cells, often procured from elective abortions, are disingenuously classified as “adult” stem cells simply because they do not come from embryos. Needless to say, this creates great confusion, even causing pro-lifers to tout “adult” stem-cell successes when the stem cells originally came from an aborted fetus.
Hockey legend Gordie Howe was in the headlines this year for his remarkable recovery from a stroke after a stem-cell treatment in Tijuana, Mexico. Former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback John Brodie also received the same treatment. Initially, the reports indicated that Howe and Brodie were treated with “adult” stem cells. Pro-life news feeds lit up with the news.
But enterprising USA Today sports reporter Brent Schrotenboer revealed last month that the treatment Howe and Brodie received from Stemedica Cell Technologies included stem cells derived from an aborted fetus.
Continue reading at the National Catholic Register>>
Friday, July 10. 2015
The Tangled Web We Weave When We Artificially Conceive: The Solomonic Dilemma of ‘Leftover’ Frozen Embryos
I have acquaintances that a decade ago decided to adopt some “leftover” frozen human embryos created with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Presuming they were essentially adopting children, the couple first consulted an adoption attorney. Imagine their surprise when he referred them to a property-rights lawyer. In our state, human embryos are considered to be “property,” not people.
Back in 2002, a Rand Corp. report revealed that there were 396,526 frozen embryos in the United States. There are certainly many more today, and in many states, these little lives have no more legal worth than a house or a car.
This situation where we can legally own human life is a direct result of creating life outside of the body — outside of the loving embrace of husband and wife. Once human life is created in a laboratory, in bulk, ownership is suddenly an issue.
So who owns human embryos once they are created? The people who commissioned their existence. But what happens when those people disagree on how to dispose of their “property”?
Such a dispute has recently hit the headlines. Nick Loeb, an American businessman, and Sofia Vergara, an actress known for the T.V. show Modern Family, are locked in a legal battle over two female embryos the couple created together when they were engaged to be married. They created four embryos, with the intent of using surrogates to bring their children to term. Two attempts at impregnating surrogates failed. The couple then split up, leaving the lives of the last two girls in limbo.
Continue reading at the National Catholic Register>>
Tuesday, July 7. 2015
In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage for the entire United States, I have read a lot of commentary. None of it spoke to me as loudly as this post at AnonymousUs.org by a daughter of a lesbian mother and anonymous sperm donor. I post it in its entirety because I simply cannot bring myself to edit her raw emotion:
Children’s Rights? Anyone? :o(Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Tuesday, June 30. 2015
From the wonderfully smart and ridiculously lovely Chelsea Zimmerman:
No, this is not a joke or an onion parody. There is actually a man in Russia who has volunteered to receive the world’s first human head transplant (or body transplant, depending on how you look at it).
Monday, June 29. 2015
I am sure many of my readers have realized that I have not been writing as much lately as I have in the past. It is because I have been working on a very special project.
Many of you may not be aware that I homeschool my kids and have been teaching homeschoolers in my area high school science for nearly seven years. I have discovered that my methods work. With only about 35 hours of total instruction, and no test preparation, all of my biology students that have taken our state's Biology End of Course (EOC) exam, have passed it. So I decided to make my materials available to other homeschooling families.
Over the past year I have been furiously working to translate my high school biology and chemistry classes into an online format. An insane amount of work has gone into my new website TaylorScience.
My high school level Biology and Chemistry courses include:
I decided that I needed to make homeschool science affordable and flexible. $150 plus tax gives 12 month access to all my materials for the whole family. Students can work at their own pace. Families can take vacations when they want to with no need to worry about missing lectures or assignments.
I know that dollars for homeschooling curriculum are precious, and I know I have wasted valuable money on curriculum that did not work. So I have provided three weeks of my materials for free for families to try it out and make sure it will work for them.
Visit TaylorScience and check it out. If you know a homeschooling family, share it with them. I pray it will be a valuable resource for those who need it.
Monday, June 22. 2015
Hockey legend Gordie Howe was in the headlines this year for his remarkable recovery from a stroke after a stem cell treatment in Tijuana, Mexico. Initially the reports indicated that Howe was treated with "adult" stem cells, and so the implication was that his treatment was non-controversial. But Brent Schrotenboer, of USA Today, reported last month that Howe's treatment included stem cells derived from an aborted fetus.
Stemedica, a San Diego company that provides the stem cell treatment to clinics like the one in Mexico, combines two types of stem cells -- meshenchymal stem cells from an adult donor and neural stem cells from a 14 to 16 week old aborted fetus. Stemedica claims that fetal stem cells are "adult" stem cells because they behave more like true adult stem cells than embryonic stem cells. USA Today reports:
The company, Stemedica Cell Technologies of San Diego, says calling them "adult" stem cells is scientifically correct because they are considered more mature stem cells with a specialized function, as opposed to embryonic stem cells, which are more akin to "blank slate" cells that are considered riskier and more likely to cause tumors....Unfortunately, this is not new. Scientists and companies like Stemedica often call stem cells that come from aborted fetuses "adult" stem cells simply because they did not come from an embryo.
Stemedica's silence on where they got their stem cells has caused great confusion. Confusion they are not eager to correct,
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Thursday, June 18. 2015
The New York Times has a piece this week about the conundrum of what to do with all of the "leftover" embryos created with IVF that are in the deep freeze waiting to get a chance to finish their lives. The Times estimates that there maybe over a million by now. A million lives on ice created as surplus children in a mass-human manufacturing campaign.
Except "leftover" is no longer the most appropriate word to use to describe frozen IVF embryos. Why not? Well "left-over" implies that the embryos were created in a batch for a particular couple and the couple now has more embryos than they want to use. Kinda like leftover lasagna. Some of it gets eaten and then rest it put in the freezer. (The callous comparison is on purpose because frankly many people think nothing more of putting their embryonic children in anti-freeze and then into cold storage than they would freezing their left-over lasagna.)
"Unused" is a better term because some of the frozen embryos are not "left-over." These embryos are intentionally created from desirable sperm and egg donors and then sold. They are not "left-over." They are the primary merchandise. The Times has the details:
At Dr. Ernest Zeringue’s IVF clinic in Davis, Calif., a program he calls California Conceptions goes beyond embryo donation to embryo creation.Who says IVF has not turned procreation into a major life purchase like a house or car? Money back guarantee? On children?
I agree with this guy:
“Make no mistake, this is commodification,” Andrew Vorzimer, a Woodland Hills, Calif., fertility lawyer, posted in his blog. “These are not donated embryos. Rather, they are embryos created from donors hand-selected by California Conceptions. It is one step removed from a mail-order catalog. The only difference is that the product being sold is nascent human life.”And he is part of the industry!
I cannot help feeling sorry for the kids who will have likely have several siblings, maybe in their own area, that they will never know. Tragic. I truly hope the news that they were created in bulk from the gametes of total strangers and then sold will not devastate them. I know it will crush some.
It really is time for society to stop turning its back on the abuses of the fertility industry. We think we are making the world a better place because a precious few actually get born. We can celebrate the lives of IVF children, but we cannot ignore how the industry has totally cheapened procreation and turn it into human trafficking.
Wednesday, June 10. 2015
For the last few years, scientists have been warning us that genetically modified children are just over the horizon. Rumors have been flying around that laboratories are already using a revolutionary new gene-editing technique called CRISPR to try to change the genes of human embryos.
Advanced gene-editing techniques like CRISPR hold great promise for treating or even curing genetic disease in existing patients that need it. But in genetic engineering, it is not just the what, but the when, that matters. Any genetic modifications done at the embryonic stage are considered germ-line modifications, meaning those genetic changes will be incorporated into reproductive cells and will be passed down from generation to generation.
Prominent researchers have called for a voluntary moratorium on using CRISPR technology in human embryos, even for therapeutic purposes, because of the inherent risk to multiple generations. They rightly argue that gene editing in humans should only be attempted in therapeutic cases where any modifications cannot be passed on.
The Catholic Church agrees. In Dignitas Personae, a clear line is drawn between gene therapy that is for a single patient and germ-line modifications that can be inherited. Not only is it unethical to create and manipulate human life in a laboratory, but Dignitas Personae states, in regards to human germ-line modifications, “… it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny.”
Unfortunately, the rumors surrounding the use of CRISPR technology to genetically modify human embryos have proven to be true.
Scientists in China have published results of their experiments into editing the genes of leftover in vitro fertilization embryos that were deemed nonviable because of genetic abnormalities. Led by genetics researcher Junjiu Huang, the Chinese attempts were, by all accounts, a failure. Out of 86 embryos that researchers tried to modify, only 71 survived.
Of those that survived, 54 were tested to see if the genetic engineering worked. Only four embryos showed evidence of the intended modification, an editing of the gene responsible for a blood disorder.
Overall, there was evidence of what The New York Times called “collateral damage,” meaning unintended mutations in other parts of the genome caused by the attempted genetic engineering. The Times reported, “The Chinese researchers point out that in their experiment gene editing almost certainly caused more extensive damage than they documented.”
Continue reading at the National Catholic Register>>
Thursday, June 4. 2015
I have said many times that for transhumanists to have their technological utopia on earth, they need to sell Christians on the idea that radically changing ourselves into something other than human is part of God's plan for us.
There have been more and more articles on how Christians need not be wary of transhumanism. We are told we need to be part of the movement so that we are not left out of the conversation. In essence, we are told we need to make friends with the devil so we can have his ear.
I found the latest at Christian Post this morning. Rev. Christopher Benek, associate pastor of Family Ministries and Mission at First Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, wrote a post titled, "Why Christians Should Embrace Transhumanism" where he argues that we should not take the term "transhumanism" so literally...
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Wednesday, May 13. 2015
It sounds like something out of a Philip Dick novel but it isn't. Zoltan Istvan is running for President of the United States, not as a Democrat or Republican, but as a Transhumanist. He started the Transhumanist Party to get radical technology into the political realm. He is charismatic and articulate. Last year he wrote a piece for The Huffington Post detailing why he is running for office. Here are some highlights:
In addition to upholding American values, prosperity, and security, the three primary goals of my political agenda are as follows:To the undiscerning eye these may seem like reasonable goals, but reading between the lines I find them to be problematic, to say the least.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Friday, May 8. 2015
In the UK Daily Mail Christopher Gyngell, a research fellow in neuroethics at Oxford University, argues that we are morally obligated to use new DNA editing techniques like CRISPR, which can precisely edit the human genome, to cure genetic disease. He asserts that we must test the technique in human embryos with the hope of eradicating mutations that cause disease. He writes:
Although the reality of human genetic modification may be a surprise, we should resist making any knee-jerk reactions or judgements.Then he argues that resistance to using these techniques in human embryos are the result of “bad arguments, empty rhetoric and personal interests.” He concludes, “It is a time for reason, not emotion.”
Ignoring the fact that in the last sentence Gyngell mentions the “booty” (as in plunder) that the UK can reap if it moves ahead in the editing of human embryos, I would like to bring some “reason” to the discussion.
In one sense Gyngell is absolutely right. We do have a moral imperative to use CRISPR technology to help patients with genetic disease. But he does not make an important distinction that I will. It is not just how genetic engineering is done that matters. The when is very important as well.
Gyngell sets up a scenario where to help heal genetic disease, the only way to do that is to tinker with human embryos. This mean that any edits made to the embryo’s DNA will not just be for that embryo, but for that embryo’s children and grandchildren. Making a modification so early in development means the change will be incorporated into the germ cells (sperm and egg) of the child. This means future generations would be forced to carry that modification as well.
The Chinese scientists who recently attempted to modify the DNA of human embryos reported that in several places mutations occurred where they were not intended. If a child is born with unintended mutations introduced in the embryonic stage, they could not help but pass those on to their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Gyngell blithely dismisses the unforeseeable affects of using CRISPR so early in human development. He writes, “Just because something has unpredictable effects doesn’t mean it should be banned.” I think Gyngell forgets that there are generations of people that will have to live their wholes lives subjected to the “unpredictable effects” of the intentional genetic engineering performed on their ancestors. We are talking about human beings, whole families, here not lab rats.
Gyngell is right that CRISPR does have great potential to relieve suffering and do great good, but human embryos are not the only humans we can use CRISPR on.
Instead of messing around with human life in its earliest and most vulnerable stage and possibly introducing unwanted mutations that will be inherited from generation to generation, we can use CRISPR on existing patients with genetic disease. The modifications made on children and adults would not be ones that would be passed on. The genetic engineering would be for that one patient minimizing risks to a single generation. We can have the benefits of CRISPR technology for genetic disease without the risk to future generations.
The objection to using CRISPR technology in embryos is not an emotional one as Gyngell implies. It is a reasoned one based in the long standing right of patients to have informed consent. Parents can legally consent for their own children. But do we morally have the right to consent to invasive genetic manipulation for our grand-children, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren?
We can use CRISPR ethically and safely to help patients living with genetic disease now without subjecting future generations to risky genetic modifications that may go very wrong.
To me it seems the emotional argument comes from Gyngell. He wants to forget the real dangers and move forward regardless. His way makes generations into genetic experiments. I am sure there are lots of medical advances we could have if we treated human subjects unethically. This is one of those times. Are we going to subject generation after generation to genetic experimentation or will we use techniques like CRISPR to heal patients living with genetic disease now? I believe the latter is the more reasoned approach.
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