Thaddeus Baklinski

Oxford ethicist: use IVF to create only smart babies

Thaddeus Baklinski
Thaddeus Baklinski

OXFORD, UK, Thu Mar 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - An Australian ethicist working at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics claims that humanity has a “moral obligation” to use in vitro fertilization (IVF) to select the most intelligent embryos for the good of society, with the obvious implication that the less intelligent “surplus” embryos should simply be destroyed.

Professor Julian Savulescu of Melbourne made the statement while commenting on an economic modeling research paper by Oxford University ethicists Andres Sandberg and Nick Bostrom, who claim that a rise in humanity’s IQ would result in a reduction in poverty, welfare dependency, crowding of jails, school dropout rates, out-of-wedlock births, and single parent families.

“The overall societal impact of even a small increase in general cognitive function would likely to be sizeable and desirable,” Sandberg and Bostrom wrote in their report.

Professor Savulescu said, “There are other ethical principles which should govern reproduction, such as the public interest.

“Even if an individual might have a stunningly good life as a psychopath, there might be reasons based on the public interest not to bring that individual into existence.

“My own view is that the economic and social benefits of higher cognition are reasons in favour of selection, but secondary to the benefits to the individual.

“Cheaper, efficient whole genome analysis makes it a real possibility in the near future,” said Savulescu, according to the Herald Sun.

Conservative bioethicist Wesley Smith, however, denounced the suggestion as “bigoted.” “Alas, these bigoted ideas – because that’s what eugenics boils down to, bigotry – are embraced in contemporary academia and their intellectual purveyors are all the rage, garnering named chairs at the most elite universities,” he said.

“And notice,” he continued, “these eugenicists rarely mention trying to bring out the best traits of humanity, such as love, humility, selflessness,  or gentleness – traits that promote peace and harmony, and which people with Down syndrome possess in abundance.”

“Intelligence is good,” says Smith. “But if we’re going to pick and choose the traits of our progeny – which we shouldn’t – let’s aim instead for people with genes that might give them a propensity to express the virtues.” 

Professor Neil Levy, Deputy Research Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, also pointed out the practical shortcomings of Savulescu’s plan, saying that investing in “designer embryos” would be “an enormous waste of money,” according to the Herald Sun.

“Why spend all that money when we could be doing so much with that money to increase the IQs and life spans of babies in sub-Saharan Africa? The pay-off in terms of raising quality of life for many people would be much greater than you’d get from concentrating on just a few.”

“My view is this is essentially a distraction,” Dr. Levy said.

“If you have an enriched environment as a kid, you’re just going to have a higher IQ. Birth weights strongly predict IQ, and the mother’s nutritional status strongly predicts IQ. But these are things we’re not worried about, because we’re used to them,” Dr. Levy remarked.

Dr. David Amor, Director of the Victorian Clinical Genetic Services in Australia, warned that the genetics associated with intelligence were still poorly understood, and that geneticists are skeptical that a specific gene for IQ is likely to be discovered.

“It is likely that some genes involved in intelligence have both advantages and disadvantages, depending on the complex genetic environment they are placed in,” Dr. Amor said.

“It’s possible an embryo that appeared to have a perfect genetic make-up for intelligence might turn out to have less desirable attributes in other areas, such as health or personality. It might be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’.”

Dr. Amor added that another consideration that limits the accuracy of genetic testing for intelligence is the small number of viable embryos produced by IVF.

“Most couples having IVF only produce a handful or embryos suitable to test and therefore the ability to select is limited,” he said.

“Even if there were larger numbers of embryos, intelligence of children tends to cluster closely around that of parents. Therefore, if a hypothetical genetic test for intelligence was applied to embryos, results would most likely be similar for all embryos.”

Contact Information:

Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Deborah Sheehan, Administrator
Suite 8, Littlegate House, St Ebbes Street
Oxford UK OX1 1PT
Phone: +44 (0)1865 286888
Fax: +44(0)1865 286886
Email: [email protected]

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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