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About Religion & Human Biotechnology


Religious perspectives on human biotechnologies vary widely, depending in part on the specific technology or application.

Most religious leaders are in step with public sentiment in opposing human reproductive cloning and inheritable genetic modification. They recognize social and ethical as well as theological reasons that the use of these technologies would run counter to fundamental tenets of their faiths.

In 1983 a leadership coalition representing a wide spectrum of theological beliefs issued a letter to the U.S. Congress calling for a ban on inheritable genetic modification (changing the genes we pass on to our children). The Theological Letter Concerning the Moral Arguments argued that this practice would pose "a fundamental threat to the preservation of the human species as we know it, and should be opposed with the same courage and conviction as we now oppose the threat of nuclear extinction."

Religious communities are far more divided about other human biotechnologies, particularly embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). Some conservative Christian denominations oppose ESCR because of their objections to any activity that destroys a human embryo. This has been a major theme in the ongoing debate about stem cell policy. Many other communities of faith support ESCR. Still others support ESCR that uses embryos created but not needed for infertility treatment, but oppose the creation of embryos specifically for research purposes.



Abortion-By-Mail Study Outrages Opponentsby Phil GalewitzKQED California HealthlineNovember 16th, 2016Gynuity Health Projects pilots a study in Hawaii, New York, Oregon, and Washington that uses telemedicine as an alternative for declining access.
Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidencyby Gillian MohneyABC NewsNovember 11th, 2016Mike Pence opposes federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. But reintroducing a funding ban "would be like putting a genie back in the bottle."
CRISPR gene-editing controversy shows old ideas about East and West still prevailby Calvin Wai-Loon HoEcontimesOctober 24th, 2016Western imaginations tend to fantasize Asian countries as exotic, crude "others," viewing Chinese research as advancing primarily due to an assumed lack of regulation.
Forget Ideology, Liberal Democracy’s Newest Threats Come From Technology and Bioscienceby John NaughtonThe GuardianAugust 28th, 2016Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, reviewed here, argues that "In the 21st century, those who ride the train of progress will acquire divine abilities of creation and destruction, while those left behind will face extinction."
In crisis-hit Venezuela young women seek sterilisationby Alexandra UlmerReutersAugust 3rd, 2016Food shortages, inflation, crumbling medical sector, and anti-abortion climate have caused a growing number of women to reluctantly opt for tubal ligations.
A Nation Ruled by Science Is a Terrible Ideaby Jeffrey GuhinSlateJuly 5th, 2016Logic and rationality can erase the nuances of people's lives.
IVF Ban lifted in Costa Rica: a success for reproductive rights?by Lynn M. MorganPLOS BlogsMarch 30th, 2016After years of political gridlock in the only western hemisphere country to ban IVF, Costa Ricans will finally have access to assisted reproduction.
We Are This Close to "Designer Babies"[cites CGS' Marcy Darnovsky]by Nina Liss-SchultzMother JonesFebruary 8th, 2016Issues to consider in light of the UK's approval of using CRISPR gene editing on human embryos for research.
Church May Back GM Embryos to Cure Inherited Diseasesby Oliver MoodyThe TimesDecember 14th, 2015The Church of England could agree to the genetic modification of human embryos.
Ethics of Gene Editing[with CGS's Marcy Darnovsky]by Betty RollinKQED Religion & Ethics NewsweeklyJuly 2nd, 2015Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society discusses possible consequences of human germline gene editing for future generations.
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