Pope condemns genetic screening (except for priests)

Boy, lately the Pope just can’t steer away from hilariously ironic statements.  Now he’s warning us against genetic discrimination (under the guise of protecting fetuses who might turn out weak or ugly, I guess), whilst sitting at the head of an organization that practices the ultimate in genetic discrimination–against those born with XX chromosomes.  Way to go, Ratzi!

Here’s the original AP article:

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer   – Sat Feb 21, 9:19 am ET

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI said Saturday that any type of discrimination based on genetic factors, such as a risk for cancer or other ailments, is an attack against all of humanity.

Benedict praised the scientific progress that has enabled researchers to diagnose genetic illnesses and develop therapies to treat them.

But he warned that alongside this progress were “worrisome displays” of discrimination that privileged “efficiency, perfection and physical beauty at the expense of other forms of existence that are deemed unworthy.”

Benedict made the comments during an audience with participants in a Vatican conference on the “New Frontiers of Genetics and the Risk of Eugenics.” Eugenics is the effort to improve the quality of the human race by controlling heredity.

The comments were an apparent reference to pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for embryos. In the screening, known by its abbreviation PGD, a single cell from an embryo created for in-vitro fertilization is tested before being implanted in the womb to screen for genetic conditions and diseases such as Down Syndrome, sickle-cell anemia or cystic fibrosis.

The Vatican opposes the screening because it often results in the destruction of embryos, and the Vatican holds that life begins at conception. But Benedict also voiced opposition to the type of technology because “it means that medical biotechnology has given way to being the judge of the strongest.”

Proponents of the process say it can spare parents the tragedy of passing on hereditary diseases to their children. But many countries ban it or restrict it to prevention of serious inherited diseases, in part to prevent it from being used to screen on the basis of gender or eye color alone.

Benedict told the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life that any discrimination of individuals, people or ethnic groups on the base of real or presumed genetic factors “is an attack against all of humanity.”

He acknowledged that the term eugenics harks back to the past, when most famously the Nazis used eugenic theories to justify forced sterilization and other practices in their quest to establish a master race.

Benedict said such ideologies are not returning. But he said a type of eugenics mentality had emerged with medical advances to justify different considerations of who deserves to live.

“What we must repeat with force is the equal dignity of every human being, for the sole fact of having been brought to life,” he said. “One’s biological, psychological and cultural development and health can never become an element for discrimination.”

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