Magazine article Conscience

Editor's Note

Magazine article Conscience

Editor's Note

Article excerpt

CURING DISEASE AND INCREASING LIFE EXPECTANCY ARE RELATIVELY uncontested areas of scientific endeavor. But add using days-old embryos to aid with research to the mix and the outrage starts to swell. In testimony before the US Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space, US bishops' representative Richard Doerflinger called for a complete ban on all cloning, arguing, inter alia, that it represented a disrespect for human life, commodified humanity and was akin to slavery. However, despite the usual suspects who can be counted on to be vocal on topics related to reproduction, the issue has seen some surprising supporters. For example, Senator Orrin Hatch, typically regarded as a religious conservative, has seen the potential for stem cell therapies and become an ardent supporter of the research. Conscience invited a number of authors to address this issue, and it's safe to say that none share Aldous Huxley's Brave New World admonition that "Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards." At the same time, most seek fuller understanding of the long-term social and cultural shifts such therapies will bring to our concept of life and personhood.

Our other concern in this issue is China, specifically allegations used by the Bush administration that coercive practices exist in China's family planning program. We report extensively from a recent fact-finding expedition by religious leaders and ethicists that dispute these allegations, and find that, while abuses have been a notorious part of the program in the past, the Chinese government, with the assistance of UNFPA, is moving, slowly, towards a more woman-centered, choice-oriented program influenced by the groundbreaking 1994 Cairo Programme of Action. …

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