[Paleopsych] Center for Bioethics and Culture: Interview with Christine Rosen plus European Union Will not Destroy Embryos

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Interview with Christine Rosen plus European Union Will not Destroy Embryos

    Interview: CBC National Director Jennifer Lahl interviews Christine

    1. Why did you write Preaching Eugenics? Was there a big overarching
    questions you were attempting to answer?

    I wrote Preaching Eugenics because I thought it was important to
    describe this unknown part of our eugenic past. I took it up not in
    the spirit of an expose (indeed, I wasn't even sure what I'd find when
    I started working my way through the archives) but as an effort to
    contribute to existing scholarship on the subject - a new layer of
    mortar and brick for the already impressive wall of scholarly work
    about eugenics in the United States, if you will. If I began with any
    overarching question in mind, it was a broad one: what was the
    relationship between religion and science in this time and place (the
    early twentieth century United States) and what role did eugenics play
    in that relationship?

    2. Who were the religious leaders propagating this growing social
    movement? Why did they support it?

    Across denominations and faiths, the Protestants, Catholics, and Jews
    who supported eugenics were overwhelmingly from the liberal end of the
    theological spectrum. This did not mean that they were
    [11] politically liberal, of course, but they
    did tend to share a commitment to a non-literal reading of scripture
    and were optimistic about the benefits that modern science might bring
    to bear on the many pressing social problems they felt the country
    faced. Most of the religious supporters of eugenics had long ago
    reconciled their faiths with evolutionary theory, for example, and
    many of them had considerable experience in charities and corrections
    work, which colored their views about things such as degeneracy and
    poverty. Broadly speaking, why did they support it? These were
    religious leaders who embraced modern ideas first and adjusted their
    theologies later. Most of them did this because they sincerely
    believed, with most progressives at the time, that eugenics would
    alleviate human suffering.

    3. What was going on with early feminism at this time? Was there a
    role the feminists played to support this movement or were there
    voices speaking out against it?

    One of the most vigorous supporters of eugenics was birth control
    activist Margaret Sanger. She lobbied intensely, and ultimately
    successfully, for the organized eugenics movement and the birth
    control movement to join forces to improve the human race by
    preventing reproduction among the "less fit" members of society. At an
    international eugenics conference in 1921, for example, Sanger said,
    "The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the
    overfertility of the mentally and physically defective." Her
    periodical, the Birth Control Review, published many supportive
    articles about eugenics and in her book, Woman and the New Race, she
    wrote that birth control "is nothing more or less than the
    facilitation of the process of weeding out the unfit, or preventing
    the birth of defectives or of those who will become defectives." This
    certainly places her far outside the mainstream of feminism today, and
    many feminists are loath to acknowledge Sanger's avid embrace of
    eugenics, but in the early twentieth century, among self-described
    progressives such as Sanger, this was an entirely acceptable view to

    4. Who were the voices crying out against this early eugenics
    movement? And to what effect?

    Some of the most vigorous opponents of eugenics were Catholics and
    conservative Protestants. In books and periodicals, they registered
    their complaints about eugenics and its outgrowths--including
    immigration restriction and compulsory sterilization of the "unfit."
    Catholic detractors usually cited natural law teaching in their
    opposition to eugenics, while conservative Protestants (many of whom
    still resisted evolutionary theory), drew on scripture. They did have
    some impact; indeed, Catholic lobbying efforts at the state level were
    successful many times in preventing the passage of state eugenic
    sterilization laws.

    Christine Rosen
    Ethics and Public Policy Center
    Washington, DC

    European Union Will not Destroy Embryos

    Commission clarifies its ethical framework for research 4/11/2005
    [12](cordis news) When the Commission published its proposals for the
    Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) on 6 April, many observers were keen
    to know how it would deal with ethical issues, such as whether or not
    to fund embryonic stem cell research.

    In response, the Commission has published a memo
    outlining its proposed approach to ethical issues under FP7, and
    clarifying the situation with regard to embryonic stem cell research
    under the current programme.

    According to the Commission, two specific passages in the FP7
    proposals sum up its approach to ethical issues. First: 'Research
    activities supported by this Framework Programme should respect
    fundamental ethical principles, including those reflected in the
    Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The opinions of
    the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technology are and
    will be taken into account.'

    Second, the proposals state that: 'All the research activities carried
    out under the Seventh Framework Programme shall be carried out in
    compliance with fundamental ethical principles.'

    As an example of how such an approach could be applied in practice,
    the Commission outlined its treatment of embryonic stem cell research
    under the current framework programme. In all cases, the EU strictly
    forbids funding for research that involves human reproductive cloning,
    the creation of embryos for research (or therapeutic cloning), or
    research that would alter the human genetic heritage.

    Furthermore, the EU will not fund a project in a particular Member
    State that involves research practices that are forbidden in that
    particular country. The Commission also refuses to fund projects that
    involve the derivation of stem cells from embryos directly, which
    would imply the destruction of a supernumerary embryo for the purposes
    of EU research.

    There is no element of FP6 that directly calls for projects involving
    any type of stem cell research, the Commission points out. When it
    does receive proposals from researchers wishing to make use of stem
    cells, priority is always given to those involving adult stem cells,
    which, it says, pose no ethical problems.

    The result so far under FP6 is that of the 25 projects involving stem
    cell research to be selected for EU funding, only two include a
    component on embryonic stem cells, which together amount to 0.002 per
    cent of the total FP6 budget.


   11. http://www.thecbc.org/redesigned/resources_genetics.php?category=Genetics%20and%20Eugenics&type=Books
   12. http://dbs.cordis.lu/cgi-bin/srchidadb?CALLER=NHP_EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=EN_RCN_ID:23650
   13. http://europa.eu.int/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/05/121&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

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