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

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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