Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. Paul Schenck

3/10/2014 (4 months ago)

Catholic Online (

For the past three years I've pursued post-graduate studies and completed professional certification in bioethics in order to take head-on the growing ethical and moral questions being raised in biotechnologies. The conflicts over birth-control, abortion and so-called

The impulse to try to make 'better babies', 'eliminate' persons with undesirable traits, and to 'perfect' the human race, threatens to degrade some persons while exalting others. It is too often the case that standards of desirability, whether physical, racial or genetic, are arbitrarily set by those who hold power and influence in a society. One man's desirable trait becomes another's undesirable condition. But human value and dignity is absolute, never relative.


By Fr. Paul Schenck

Catholic Online (

3/10/2014 (4 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: eugenics, bioethics, designer babies, bio-technology, ethics, morality, designer babies, margaret sanger, Pope Francis, Fr Paul Schenck

HARRISBURG,PA (Catholic online) - For the past three years I've pursued post-graduate studies and completed professional certification in bioethics in order to take head-on the growing ethical and moral questions being raised in biotechnologies. The conflicts over birth-control, abortion and so-called "reproductive technologies" have expanded exponentially.

Now, not all intrauterine therapies are immoral or unethical. There are wonderful surgical, medicinal and even genetic therapies that are compatible with the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the person and doing great good for children with congenital abnormalities. But technologies that disrupt natural human development, distort personal identity and block or substitute for intercourse, the natural marital expression of love between spouses, rob children of their dignity and essential human rights.

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration announced it will consider approving a drastic IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) process that will use the DNA of three donors: the mother, the father and a third person unrelated to them. The technique is being used to try to eliminate inherited diseases that are passed through the mitochondria.

Ethicists are debating the morality of such a process. Some say it is the humane thing to do and others that it is the beginning of a technological eugenics (the proposed improvement of the human species by permitting the reproduction only of people with desirable genetic characteristics).

Eugenics has been around for about a hundred years. It is the idea that science and scientific technique can lead to perfect people, and if practiced for generations, an improved human race. A notorious series of books entitled "The Eugenic Marriage: A Personal Guide to the New Science of Better Living and Better Babies" was published in 1914 by the Review of Reviews, a publishing concern representing the trans-Atlantic culture of progressive reform.

The concern was founded by Albert Shaw, a contemporary of Woodrow Wilson who was a progressive reformer, academic, newspaper editor and publisher. The series was written by W. Grant Hague, a medical doctor, professor in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and trustee of the American Medical Association. Here is what Hague wrote -

Eugenics, simply defined, means "better babies". It is the art of being well born. It implies consideration of everything that has to do with the well-being of the race: motherhood, marriage, heredity, environment, disease, hygiene, sanitation, vice, education, culture - in short, everything upon which the health of people depends.

This seems well enough intended, until you read on. Just a few pages later, Hague reveals the underlying motivation of the eugenicist -

We are beginning to learn that we can modify characteristics by proper selection, by environment, and by education. This process will, to an eminent degree, redound to the permanent advantage of mankind. We may reasonably aspire to a system of race-culture which will eliminate the undesirable and unfit, and conserve all effort for the propagation of the desirable or fit.

Perhaps the most notorious eugenicist of this period is Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who called the "undesirable and unfit" human weeds, and urged their being weeded out of the human race.

A hundred years later, the US FDA is considering approving an IVF procedure designed to do just this: weed out babies with genetic diseases by eviscerating their DNA and replacing it with a stranger's. This way, the child inherits the traits of three parents. But more insidious is the motivation: to perfect human children. This begs the question: what is an "imperfect" child? Who decides?

The impulse to try to make "better babies", "eliminate" persons with undesirable traits, and to "perfect" the human race, threatens to degrade some persons while exalting others. It is too often the case that standards of desirability, whether physical, racial or genetic, are arbitrarily set by those who hold power and influence in a society. One man's desirable trait becomes another's undesirable condition. But human value and dignity is absolute, never relative.

In our efforts to properly treat and eradicate disease, we must be careful never to confuse the person with the illness or condition. The disabilities community has rightly placed the emphasis on the person and not the disability. So one is "a person with a disability", not a "disabled person".

This is the right way of understanding every person. Treating a person with an inherited trait or disease is one thing, replacing that person or an essential part of their identity, is quite another. As Pope Francis has said, "Human beings are ends in themselves, and never a means of resolving other problems."    

Fr. Paul Schenck, a Priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA., is the founding Director of the National Pro-Life Center (NPLC) on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Center gives the Justices of the Supreme Court, their high level staff, members of the federal judiciary, members of the US Senate and other public policy makers the information, education and inspiration they need to better form their consciences so they will make better decisions. He is a Champion of the Pro-Life movement.


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.


More U.S.

Malinformed much? Ninety percent of your information now comes from just 6 media sources Watch

Image of Small media outlets are consumed by the large, limiting the variety of expression.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Have you ever tried to describe something, but lacked the vocabulary to do it? This is the concept behind Newspeak, a fictional language in George Orwell's 1984. Orwell proposed that by limiting expression, thought itself could be limited. Today, as media companies ... continue reading

Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage struck down Watch

Image of The Virginia case, Bostic v. Rainey, was brought by two same-sex couples. Fourteen thousand gay couples also were certified as a class for the suit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In a dramatic reversal of a voter-based 2006 decision, U.S. appeals court this week struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, the latest in a string of court rulings to back gay marriage. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit ... continue reading

Archbishop Chaput Speaks at the Napa Institute Conference on Pope Francis and Economic Justice

Image of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is one of the preeminent Churchmen of our age. He offers a prophetic voice for this important time. He not only grasps and articulates Catholic Social Doctrine well, he also understands the real treasure we have been given in this Pope who took the name Francis. I believe that his insights into Pope Francis need to be read by as many people as possible.

By Catholic Online

In matters of economic justice, Francis' concerns are the same as Benedict's and John Paul II's and Pius XI's and Leo XIII's. He understands economic matters through the lens of Church teaching in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Like his ... continue reading

Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading

Bridget of Sweden, Marriage and Family, and the Need for Canonized Married Saints Watch

Image of St Bridget of Sweden, her husband Ulf, and all the modern Popes call Christian married couples to become the 'Sweet and Smiling Face of the Church' in this age. This is an age which is desperately in need of all kinds of saints. I suggest we particularly need examples of married, canonized Saints. That is precisely because this is an age where faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. We need examples of men and women who not only embraced it in Christ, but lived it as a but a path to heroic virtue.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The clear teaching of the Bible, the Christian tradition and the re-emphasis of the last Council in the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, make clear - we are ALL called to holiness in life. That  is what the Catholic Church regularly refers to as ... continue reading

Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading

Obama demands that illegals be allowed to enter U.S. Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of illegal, unaccompanied minors have flooded into the United States since 2014 began, often escaping violence in war torn Central American countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's administration is considering whether or not it will allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras and other war-torn Central American states to enter into the United States illegally and without crossing into the country ... continue reading

Are you ready for the next dust bowl? California is! Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the Colorado River Basin is rapidly running out of water, which may be disastrous for the seven states it supplies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report published by the American space agency and the University of California, the water crisis that is punishing the southwestern United States is likely to worsen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that the prime source of water ... continue reading

PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Mayflies descend on Wisconsin Watch

Image of When summer arrives, Mayflies take flight and proceed to mate before immediately going back to the water to lay eggs and die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a plague of Biblical proportions. Ugly mayflies have descended on the state of Wisconsin, covering up exterior services like so much black, metallic dust. Photos coming out of Wisconsin is sure to send viewers itching - so beware of some of the sights in ... continue reading

Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading

All U.S. News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 30th, 2014 Image

St. Peter Chrysologus
July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook

Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter