Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Congress to examine modern eugenics.

Asianews.It is reporting about an upcoming Congress to be held in Rome - February 20 - 21, 2009 about modern eugenics, or as I usually call it - The New Eugenics. The Congress is entitled: The New Frontier of Genetics and the Risk of Eugenics.

I usually refer to Peter Singer, the Princeton University chair of bioethics, as the father of the New Eugenics, but it is possible that this new type of discrimination pre-dates Singer's philosophy.

Monsignor Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life was reported to state to the media today:
"No one can decide what is a “normal” life. Yet breakthroughs in genetics, as positive as they might be, are giving rise to the idea that “some people are less valuable than others”, because of the conditions in which they live, such as poverty or lack of education, or because of their physical state, for example people who are disabled, mentally ill, people in a 'vegetative state', or the elderly who suffer serious disease."

Eugenics, a word no one uses because of its association with experiments carried out by the Nazis, will be the subject for the Pontifical Academy for Life Congress.

Fisichella stated:
Genetic breakthroughs, resulting from technological progress, have effects on the diagnostic and therapeutic fields. But “the danger that genetics might drift [in the wrong direction] is not mere theoretical. Sadly it belongs to an outlook that is slowly but inexorably spreading.”

“Eugenics was once thought to be a thing of the past. Just mentioning the word still evokes horror. But as it is often the case, underlying dangers have been lost from sight as a result of a subtle linguistic formalism coupled with advertising backed by big economic interests. An outlook that can no longer recognise objective evil and formulate corresponding ethical views is the result. Thus, whilst the word eugenics has no place in democratic societies that in principle are respectful of human rights, the idea has for all intents and purpose found its way back into our consciousness without much angst.”

"eugenics today shows the “reassuring face of those who want to physically improve the human species.” Such practices “find expression in various scientific, biological, medical, social and political projects, all of them more or less interrelated. These projects require an ethical judgement, especially when it is sought to suggest that eugenic practices are being undertaken in the name of a 'normality' of life to offer to individuals, which still needs to be defined and requires undisputable ways to determine who can claim the power to establish the rules and purpose of a person’s ‘normal’ life. Whatever the case, such an outlook exists, however short-sighted it may be, and tends to view that some people as less valuable than others, either because of the conditions in which they live, such as poverty or lack of education, or because of their physical state, for example people who are disabled, mentally ill, people in a 'vegetative state', or the elderly who suffer serious disease.”


With reference to the Eluana Englaro case, Monsignor Fisichella stated:
"when it comes to people in “vegetative state” we must “distinguish between the medical act of inserting the tube” and the processes of “hydration and feeding which we view as therapies.” Since water and food “are basic elements in a person’s life, we believe they must be guaranteed” and cannot be considered “futile medical care”.

Mgr Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life, stated:
Eugenics “represents the main discriminatory use to which discoveries in genetic science can be put. This is what the congress wants to examine. Obviously, the main objective is to call people's attention to the considerable benefits we may obtain from genetic research if, as seems correct and appropriate, it attracts the efforts of researchers and public and private investments, while overcoming any temptation to follow the deceptive shortcuts presented by eugenics.”


Link to the article in asia news:
http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=14504

P.S. My good friend, Dr. Mark Mostert, publishes a very insightful blog on eugenics, euthanasia and disability rights. He also has a website entitled: "Useless Eaters". He is worth checking out.

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