What’s so important about bioethics?

Recent headlines have made my head spin.

For example, a new scientific technique, termed “mitochondrial transfer,” has raised the specter of human beings scientifically engineered from three “parents,” with several actual cases reported.

Along similar lines, CRISPR technology, the molecular tool designed to edit genes, has been used to genetically modify babies. “Should the rich be allowed to buy the best genes?” is a now a real question one headline poses, not a line from an Aldous Huxley novel.

Follow that with a report in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine this spring that “a man delivered a stillborn baby.” A woman, who identified herself as a “transgender man,” went to an emergency room with severe abdominal pain. Her medical records identified her as a male, so she wasn’t triaged with a pregnancy in mind. By the time she was seen, her baby had died.

Last, consider the news from Nebraska this April that “a 61-year old woman gave birth to her own grandchild for her son and son-in-law.” The woman served as a surrogate for her son and his same-sex partner, using in vitro fertilization and gametes from both the 61 year-old woman’s son and his partner’s sister.

This is heavy stuff, and highlights two characteristics of our age: (1) previously unthinkable technological developments, and (2) the “autonomous self,” that is, a widespread belief that there are no due limits to what a person can or should do, so long as they want it. Together, these are potent mix. What are we to make of it?

Articulating a sound bioethical framework for such situations is not pie-in-the-sky theorizing, but is deeply important to living an authentically human life.

Join the bioethics discussion by attending one of two South Dakota presentations by renowned filmmaker and bioethicist, Jennifer Lahl.

The first opportunity is at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 9th. (Learn More)

The second is at Holy Spirit parish in Sioux Falls at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 10th. (Learn More)

Jennifer is accustomed to engaging with Catholic and non-Catholic audiences alike…bring a curious friend. Hope to see you soon.

Yours in Christ,

Christopher Motz, J.D.
Executive Director
SD Catholic Conference