Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reproductive Technology - What is the New Morality?

Reproductive technology is advancing at "the speed of light."  Science has now afforded us the ability to extract the abnormal chromosomal mitochondrial DNA (that part of the chromosome that is responsible for transmitting certain inheritable characteristics) and replace it with the "normal" mitochondrial DNA of a donor egg.  So, for instance, a mom with an inheritable defect transmitted by her mitochondrial DNA can have the mitochondrial DNA of a donor substituted for her own, thereby eliminating the possibility that her child will be subject to some devastating disorder that would have been transmitted by her own mitochondrial DNA.

The child who would be the product of this reproductive technology would, in fact, have the genetic makeup of not two, but three parents - that of the natural mother and father, and that of the donor egg with the normal mitochondrial DNA.

Are these techniques morally justifiable?  How should we react to these feats of genetic engineering?  Such processes are not ones that can be ignored or barred.  We will have to come to grips with a new moral clarity.  The identity of the traditional parent will have to give way to a new concept of "parenthood," and the whole concept of who contributes to the parenting of a child will take on an entirely new meaning.

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Who Am I To Judge?"

Here's an interesting take on Pope Francis's words "Who am I to judge," as editorially analyzed in a recent edition of the Jewish Daily Forward.  The entire comment, not often fully cited, is as follows:

                  "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to

The editorial goes on to cite Francis's words as being "conditional."  Judgement was limited to persons of good will and those who believe in "the Lord."  Personal judgement is suspended only on the condition that certain behavior is followed.

Do we ever actually have the right to judge?  Is judgement of human behavior something that should be  reserved for a deity?   Of course we have the right to judge.  "Who are we to judge?"   We are  human beings to whom society gives the right to judge.  It is only through such judgement that societal mores and ethics develop.  When we judge others, however, we should always remain aware of how those being judged may judge us, given a reverse of circumstance.

The issue is not whether or not humans have the right to judge, but that they (we) make judgements honestly, without prejudice, without vested interests, and with the objective to better the welfare of society.

Whether or not there is a "final judgement," made by God, is a question best left for believers.  Perhaps that is the judgement that Pope Francis was referring to.