ProLifers’ Update on Genetic Engineering: PROMINENT JOURNAL DEBATE

The Journal of Medical Ethics, Issue 45 (2019) recently featured several articles in which authors debated the morality of genetic engineering of human embryos (often termed “heritable genetic editing” because such manipulation will influence future generations).

Great! Right? It’s good to see moral discussion of the issue. It’s not so great, however, to see the lack of creativity and Christian fundamentals in the arguments of those who oppose altering the genetic characteristics of persons at the embryonic stage. It goes to show how unprepared our secular scientists and bioethicists are for a well-informed moral debate that touches on profound philosophical and theological concepts.

The authors of one article do a very nice job of smashing the myth that genetic engineering of embryos is safe and predictable. In fact, any assumption that geneticists will be able to securely predict the outcomes of genetic manipulation is based on a very deterministic, simplistic understanding of genetics. It is hardly acceptable that experts in genetics would promote such a philosophy.

From the article abstract: “Multiple, poorly understood genetic and environmental factors interact to influence the expression of diseases with a genetic component, even well understood ‘monogenic’ disorders. Population-level genome analyses are now demonstrating that many genetic ’mutations’ are much less predictive than previously thought. Furthermore, HGE might introduce new risks just as it reduces old ones; or remove protections not yet clearly delineated.”

For a more comprehensive argument against genetic engineering of human embryos, go to http://www.humanpreservation.org.

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