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Reproductive & Genetic Technologies
 
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Principles

The Bible teaches that God gives life as a gift. We believe that human life must be respected and protected through all of its stages, from conception to natural death. As Christians, in accordance with the Scriptures, we are also called on to care for the vulnerable, uphold human dignity and maintain family integrity.

The Issue

Reproductive and genetic technologies hold out great promise for many people
-- prevention and treatment of genetic diseases, children for those who are infertile, and major technological advances. However, some researchers have the attitude towards new research that "if we can do it, we must".  They see humans as nothing more than a set of genetic information which can and must change in order to improve[1]. This understanding allows for some reproductive and genetic practices which involve the destruction of human life. In vitro fertilisation, for example, tends to create more embryos than are needed. These "spare" embryos may be destroyed or used for research. Human embryonic stem cell research extracts stem cells from early human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.

Some of these technologies change our understanding of what it means to be human.  If parents can choose, for example, to give birth to a blond haired, blue eyed boy instead of a brown haired, green eyed boy, that boy will be product of their own design.  This will, in turn, change the structure and understanding of families. A surrogate mother carries and gives birth to a child in order to give it away. A family is created in order to be broken. If it were ever permitted, the reproductive cloning of adults would strike at the heart of what it means to be human while also blurring the distinction between parent and child. Anonymous donation of sperm or eggs withholds from the child the possibility of knowing his or her lineage and biological relatives.

Reproductive and genetic technologies hold out great hope for new ways to treat illnesses and infertility. For this hope we thank God.  Outside the limits within God's creation, however, these technologies could have vast, negative consequences.  Vulnerable people, such as infertile couples desperate to have a child or low-income women who may donate eggs or be a surrogate mother out of financial need, are at risk of exploitation through reproductive technologies. We risk turning children into commodities that can be molded and shaped in our own image.  Therefore we must be careful with practices that disregard human dignity and seem oriented toward the manipulation and ownership of children and of the very genetic makeup of human beings.

Footnotes

[1] Jeremy Rifkin, The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World.

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Related Issue: Abortion
Related Issue: Euthanasia/Assisted Suicide


   
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