Saturday, 22 January 2011

Germany must not forget the lessons of history by legalising embryo research

I am very disturbed to read that Germany's National Academy of Sciences (known as the Leopoldina) has recommended the explicit legalisation of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), in which embryonic children are tested for genetic anomalies and destroyed if deemed unworthy of life. Although IVF is permitted in Germany, embryo research per se is banned, though last July the federal supreme court ruled that PGD did not fall under the ban. A main reason for the ban is a desire to prevent any repetition of Nazi eugenics, which so corrupted German science and medicine and which caused the deaths of millions, including the sick and disabled. (Another, newer reason to maintain the ban would be the development of ethical alternatives.)

Eugenics is not something of the Nazi past: it is being increasingly promoted and practised around the world under a variety of approved guises. The very foundation of human rights is at risk once members of the human family have their right to life negated because they are labelled as disposable. I am therefore very glad to announce that Dr John Fleming, SPUC's bioethical consultant, will be visiting Britain in March to address clergy around the country on the subject of eugenics.

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