Final Paper- Kyra Perkins

Written from the point of view of a religious man against cloning:
As a member of the Catholic community, I come to you all today to adamantly oppose the funding of cloning by the United States government. You may ask why a religious person why they care about science. You might even say that the United States believes that religion and government should be separate. I don’t disagree with you. Religion and government should be separate. However, when you see a country you love, regardless of your religion, turning down a dark path you are obligated to take a stand. While I am a member of the Catholic community my arguments are not a religious one, rather they are based on the morals that have been deeply ingrained in us as a country. Essentially, there are two main reasons for cloning. The first, medical research. This is where embryos are grown for the purposes of testing and for stem cell research. It is also possible to take cells from these beings for multiple other purposes. The second reason is for people to clone children, pets, or even themselves to avoid death and mourning. People clone dogs after death to avoid saying goodbye to furry friends. They try to clone children for women who can’t reproduce or have lost children. Some people even try to clone themselves to ensure that they continue to live on. A small baby made with their exact copied genetic makeup to raise as themselves in hopes that when that one clone grows old it will again repeat the cloning process to ensure that they line on forever.
As far as science goes, cloning has some major benefits that we cannot ignore. I will admit that. “On the one hand, there is the promise that such research could lead to important knowledge of human embryological development and gene action, especially in cases in which there are genetic abnormalities that lead to disease. There is also the promise that such research could contribute to producing transplantable tissues and organs that could be effective in curing or reversing many dreaded illnesses and injuries – including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, juvenile diabetes, and spinal cord injury… fidelity both to the highest moral and human aspirations of science and medicine and to the moral standards of the wider community requires that we consider not only why and how to proceed with new lines of research, but also whether there might be compelling reasons not to do so or certain limits that should be observed.” (The President’s Council on Bioethics). My heart goes out to the people who struggle with these diseases and these, what I know have to be, painful and difficult injuries. However, it is important to think about whether or not solving one person’s pain is justification for cloning. Regardless of being made in a womb or in a lab, these beings are living breathing humans. Until a study can thoroughly, without a doubt, prove otherwise, they feel pain in the same way we do. Is it worth bringing pain to one individual to save another? More importantly, should the government not only support, but use American tax dollars to fund these experiments? I speak for myself, and hopefully, most other conscious Americans when I state, find a better way. Find a better way to test, find a better way to get cells for testing, just find a better way. This is not a Catholic argument. It is argument for the moral fiber of the United States. Since I am a religious man, I do think it is important though, to consider the religious community’s views because so many Americans do consider themselves religious.
When considering the Catholic community’s stand point, it is important to look to what religious leaders say on matters such as these. According to the Donum Vitae and the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, “Techniques of fertilization in vitro can open the way to other forms of biological and genetic manipulation of human embryos, such as attempts or plans for fertilization between human and animal gametes and the gestation of human embryos in the uterus of animals, or the hypothesis or project of constructing artificial uteruses for the human embryo. These procedures are contrary to the human dignity proper to the embryo, and at the same time they are contrary to the right of every person to be conceived and to be born within marriage and from marriage. Also, attempts or hypotheses for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through “twin fission”, cloning or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union.” Furthermore, “the gift of life which God the Creator and Father has entrusted to man calls him to appreciate the inestimable value of what he has been given and to take responsibility for it: this fundamental principle must be placed at the center of one’s reflection in order to clarify and solve the moral problems raised by artificial interventions on life as it originates and on the processes of procreation. Thanks to the progress of the biological and medical sciences, man has at his disposal ever more effective therapeutic resources; but he can also acquire new powers, with unforeseeable consequences, over human life at its very beginning and in its first stages. Various procedures now make it possible to intervene not only in order to assist but also to dominate the processes of procreation.” It is not our job as humans to create life for the betterment of other life. In Judaism they also have fundamental concerns about cloning. Based on their laws and beliefs, they find it difficult, if not impossible, to support the usage of their tax dollars for cloning and the subsequent experimentation testing of these clones once they are created. “Initially, an analysis of the implications of cloning found in Jewish law really contains within it three distinctly different problems in need of resolution. The first problem is whether the cloning process is permissible, prohibited, or a good deed…, there is no mitzvah (as none of the participants are obligated). The activity itself is neither good nor bad, although the need to engage in other prohibited activity would be enough to prohibit this cloning according to Jewish law, as there is no counterbalancing mitzvah to offset even a small impropriety.” (Broyde).
Another important point to consider is that of parenthood. In the case that the government or scientists and researchers have cloned a human using cells from a dead person or even a donor, who is the parent? While this seems like a small point to make, the person who is the guardian of this living being is also the one who is obligated to take care of it. If the cloned being is the responsibility of the American government then not only will you need tax money for the research, but also extra money for any care and necessities these beings have. That is more money coming out of the pockets of hardworking citizens of the United States or more money diverted away from our already underfunded education system or failing medical system. Ask yourselves, how do you plan to explain to the American public that you have taken money from their child’s education for the immoral cloning and creating of living beings in a lab? I can assure you now, it won’t go over well.
To my second point, people clone to avoid dealing with the harsh realities of death and mourning or to fix the inability to conceive a child by any other means. Cloning has the ability to create a living being made of your exact same genetic makeup. “We must weigh whether to take up this matter in the context of deciding what to do about cloning-to-produce-children or in the somewhat different context of the ethics of embryo and stem cell research more generally. The issue has in fact emerged in the public moral debate over anti-cloning legislation, as a complication in the effort to stop cloning-to-produce-children. Generally speaking, the most effective way to prevent cloning-to-produce-children would arguably be to stop the process at the initial act of cloning, the production (by an act of somatic cell nuclear transfer [SCNT]) of the embryonic human clone.” (The President’s Council on Bioethics). To many people, they believe that an exact genetic equal means that this person will walk, talk, and act like them. Unfortunately, this idea comes from watching a few too many science fiction films. We, as human beings, are who we are partially because of our genetic makeup. However, the majority of our personality traits and opinions come from our life experiences. For example, if you were attacked by a dog at 5 years old, you were probably afraid of dogs for a significant period of your life. Likewise, if you went through a negative emotional experience, such as loss of a parent at a young age, it might have shaped some personality trait within you that you cherish today. Your clone, having none of those experiences, would have none of those personality traits. In short, experiences make you who you are and therefore, your clone will be an entirely different person. The idea of a clone ensuring that you live forever shows an ignorance of the human experience. Furthermore, a cloned being is not any more of a life insurance than a normal child would be.
Cloning is the human creation of human beings. Not only is it wrong religiously but it is wrong morally as well. Today, I urge the Congress of this great United States of America to truly consider the implications of the decisions you make today. When you vote for or against this funding remember that your actions have serious implications. It should not be the goal of this Congress to support the creation of human beings for the sole purpose of research, experimentation, and tissue harvesting. More importantly, the money of the American taxpayers should not go to this immoral act. Furthermore, we as American taxpayers should not have to use our hard-earned money to clone rich men who have a fear of death. Thank you for your time.

An Angle on IVF (Final Paper) – Vijaya Reddy

Good Evening. Today, I would like to address the debate regarding the validity of IVF (in vitro fertilization), and I will also provide my personal statement concerning IVF and whether or not it should be prohibited or permissible in America as a whole.

As our world is rapidly advancing and globalizing, I believe we, as a nation, should keep up with the world’s pace by addressing the benefits and drawbacks of these assisted reproductive technologies and deciding how they would affect American society. Within our nation, there is an internal divide between people who believe IVF should be banned as it undermines human dignity and people who advocate for IVF as a potential way to fulfill their individual desires or religious obligations to have children. This controversy persists due to the differences in cultures and various backgrounds in America along with the moral consequences associated with IVF.

First and foremost, I want us all to acknowledge that America is an extremely diverse nation with an immense variety of religions and cultures. Almost every religion contains its own unique ideals and regulations on procreation. Some religions, such as Hinduism and Islam, place a huge emphasis on the importance of having children, and as a result, couples often are inclined to use IVF as a last resort to fulfill their religious expectations. Other cultures, such as Roman Catholicism, emphasize children are a part of life and a gift from God, which means humans should not interfere with God’s creations. Because of America’s large scale diversity, I believe there is no possible way we can effectively regulate the use of IVF, and banning IVF as a whole would be the equivalent of denying individuals the freedom of religion because we are obstructing certain individuals from fulfilling their religious obligations. Therefore, I strongly advocate that IVF should be condoned as it allows people to attain their religious obligations; it brings infertile couples happiness by putting them out of their depression and suffering, and, as I will explain later in my testimony, many major religious texts throughout the world illustrate and condone the use of IVF and many other assisted reproductive technologies.

On the other hand, many people align with the Catholic Church in that they believe that if the embryos are living, they must be respected like any other person, and since several embryos are destroyed during the process of IVF, the Catholic Church condemns the use of IVF. Additionally, Catholics follow natural law, which is both an agreement with scripture and an agreement with reasoning, and natural law prompts them to believe that assisted reproductive technology is permissible when it is in the context of a legitimate marriage (marriage recognized by biology and society) and does not allow the third party to intervene with the marriage’s moral and social values. The Catholic Church also believes, in respect to natural law, that “reproductive technology enables man to dominate the process of procreation”, which impels him to surpass the limits of “reasonable dominion” over nature (Donum Vitae 141).While I do agree with the Catholic Church that “human life must be respected from the very instant of existence”, I believe human life begins when the fetus has been delivered out of the womb since it takes its first breath within ten seconds of its delivery; therefore, in my opinion, an embryo is not a human and cannot be given the same rights as a human (Donum Vitae 151). In addition, I do not believe that the Catholic Church’s view on reproductive technology is the direct reflection of God’s will, rather it is a radical, strict interpretation of the Bible. People should not be forced by law to follow another man’s interpretation of a religious text; they should have the freedom to form their own understandings and decisions on IVF and assisted reproductive technologies. Chiefly, the Catholic Church’s regulation that reproductive technologies can be allowed for only a legitimate marriage with no third party intervention is distorted since Jesus, the son of God, was born through his surrogate mother, Mary. Here, there was no legitimate marriage between Mary and God the father, but Mary got pregnant through the Holy Spirit without sexual intercourse. This can be seen as a divine form of IVF and surrogacy, so it is hypocritical for the Catholic Church to ban the use of assisted reproductive technologies when Jesus himself was conceived through a surrogate mother. Lastly, as the Catholic Church believes humans should not interfere with God’s process of procreation, Jewish teachings emphasize that “ human beings – since they were created in God’s image -… are explicitly required to interfere with God’s creation” (Prainsack 180). The point I am trying to articulate is that each culture has its own interpretation of religious text, and we would be imprudent to force people by law to follow a specific interpretation of religious text.

Furthermore, many cultures and traditions with reference to religious texts exemplify that having children is a crucial aspect of life that people must attain and experience. For instance, in the Book of Genesis, God orders humans to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 2). Here, God places an obligation upon humans to reproduce, but God does not mention how humans should reproduce; therefore, whether a child is conceived through a natural marriage or IVF, the obligation to reproduce has been fulfilled. This is one of the reasons why Israel, a Jewish nation, is a pro-natal state and why Israelis place a huge emphasis on the importance of motherhood as “the most primal and natural goal for women” independent of marriage (Kahn 122). Additionally, in Israeli society, most women chose IVF because they believed it was better than having sexual relations with a man, it was less expensive and less complex than adoption, and it presented the opportunity to have one’s own genetic children who are respected in society as ” legitimate, full-fledged Jews” (Kahn 141). Currently, around 6-7 million Jews live in the United States, and unlike Catholics, they focus on legal portions on biblical text. Basically, if the use of the assisted reproductive technology is not prohibited in the Bible or the Torah, it is usually condoned for the sole purpose of “fulfilling the divine commandment of procreation” (Prainsack 174). In the Bible, when Sarah could not bear children, she gives her servant, Hagar, to her husband Abraham in order to obtain a child; this is an example of “traditional surrogacy”, in which the mother is impregnated with the sperm of a man—often one whose wife is incapable of producing eggs—usually by means of artificial insemination (Seeman 344). Traditional surrogacy was a common practice at the time, since a childless woman was shamed by her family and community. If we ban IVF and other reproductive technologies, we are not only denying individuals the means to attain their religious obligations; we are denying them the freedom of choice and the ability to pursue what they think is best for their circumstances.                                                

Similar to Judaism, Hinduism also has a more accepting attitude towards IVF and other reproductive technologies as a loophole to infertility because Hindus, like Jews, also place a huge emphasis on the significance of having children. Essentially, most Hindus read or listen to portions of the Mahabharata, an ancient, crucial Indian epic, at least once in their lifetime; therefore, it “occupies a special place within Hindu traditions” by preserving insights of its own time and providing guidance for the future ( Bhattacharya 30). In the Mahabharata, when Pandu, the king of Hastinapur, finds out that he possesses a curse that will inhibit him from having children, Pandu miserably says, “For a childless man they say…there is no door to heaven. Therefore I who am childless am much troubled” (Bhattacharrya 50). Thus, even though there is not a Hindu law that proclaims Hindus are obligated to reproduce, most Hindus feel that it is their duty, or dharma, to produce good children that will benefit the society as a whole, and if they do not complete this duty, they believe that they will be prevented from reaching heaven or moksha, a state of peace. Assisted Reproductive technologies are seen as a last resort to fulfill an individual’s dharma, and as a result, secure a peaceful afterlife. Furthermore, in the Mahabharata, when Kunti and Madri, the wives of Pandu, are upset that they cannot conceive children, they each contact a God that has desirable qualities, such as leadership, strength, and power, who gives them a child. By getting impregnated through God, Kunti and Madri accessed a “divine sperm bank” just as modern Hindus seek artificial insemination to combat infertility (Bhattacharrya 42). In addition, just as Kunti and Madri had the opportunity to choose which God their child came from, modern Hindus carefully select their donors based on what qualities they want their child to possess. Because reproductive technologies hold their place in the Mahabharata and possessing children is a common cultural standard in Hindu society, we cannot ban IVF in America. Prohibiting the use of IVF and other reproductive technologies to approximately three million Hindus who live in America would be unjust as we are not considering how penetrating the desire and expectation to obtain children is in Hindu society, and as a governing body; it is our duty to ensure the happiness and well-being of our citizens.                                                                                                                                                                                                In summation, due to America’s wide diversity, I believe there is no effective way we can regulate the use of IVF, and banning IVF entirely would take away the religious freedom of citizens as we are preventing certain individuals from fulfilling their religious obligations. Thus, I strongly advocate that IVF should be condoned as it allows people to attain their religious obligations; it brings infertile couples joy by putting them out of their misery and suffering of not being able to conceive a child, and several major religious texts throughout the world chronicle and accept the use of IVF and many other assisted reproductive technologies as a loophole to infertility. For these reasons, I believe funding for IVF should not be ceased, but it should be restricted and determined upon on the income level of the family and the family’s moral and social values; IVF should only be offered for procreation purposes.

Thank You for your time.


Works Cited:

Book of Genesis, chapters 1-2 <>

Donum Vitae In Shanon, Thomas A. and Lisa Sowle Cahill, Religion and Artificial Reproduction: An Inquiry into the Vatican “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Reproduction.” (Crossroad, 1988).

Susan Martha Kahn, Reproducing Jews: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception in Israel (Duke University Press, 2000).

Don Seeman, “Ethnography, Exegesis and Jewish Ethical Reflection: The New Reproductive Technologies in Israel.” In Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli and Yoram S. Carmeli editors, Kin, Gene, Community: Reproductive Technologies Among Jewish Israelis (Berghahn Books, 2010), pp. 340-362.

Swasti Bhattacharya, Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology (Suny University Press, 2006).

Barbara Prainsack, “Negotiating Life: The Regulation of Human Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research in Israel.” Social Studies of Science 2006: 173-205. e-reserve

Final Assignment – Jin Yoo

Final Assignment: For the Continued Funding of In-Vitro Fertilization

The United States is a country commonly referred to as the “melting pot”. With centuries of immigrants bringing in their heterogeneous backgrounds of varying religions, ethnicities, and beliefs, this country has been at the forefront of promising liberty and freedom for all individuals, regardless of status and background. Interestingly, however, the American debate on reproductive biomedical technology has been built heavily on Christian principles, with conservatives seeking their position from Christian texts of what constitutes a family (Bhattacharyya 12), while liberals assume the opposing side of autonomy (Braun 43). However, while the discourse can certainly include religious values, the governing laws on reproductive technologies in America should be shifted from Christian principles to those that are secular in order to satisfy the overarching definition of America: a place of acceptance, regardless of identity. Thus, my testimony today promotes the funding of IVF: Congress should continue to fund for the reproductive technology of in-vitro fertilization, shifting discourse from religious and economical ethics to one that centers on the patient, her family, and the embryos at stake.

To begin with, discourse should not (have) be around maximizing production – economically or religiously; it should be about the ethics of the patient, and if she wishes to have a child, she should be allowed to do so. The fundamental rights of a human being include that of autonomy, to have the liberty to make one’s own decisions and act upon them, while maintaining respect for the rest of society and the ethics of that body (Braun 44). The ethics of a certain group of people can vary from the individual differences of the people that make it up, but for this particular discussion, the “body” in question is that of the American public. The ethics of the United States are mainly driven on the same basic principles to that of other developed nations, but with the rise of biomedical technology, there has been an increase in questions raised regarding what is considered “ethical”. However, autonomy has always been a given in the US, from the Bill of Rights to various promotions on self-acceptance. Even from the viewpoint of German skeptics, who strongly believe in “underscor[ing] the limits of technological solutions and the price that individuals and society might have to pay for them” (Braun 43), define autonomy as: “a society’s political capacity to control the development of science & technology despite structural constraints such as the imperative to increase economic competitiveness” (Braun 49). In other words, while German skeptics would be most analogous to the conservatives of America, they believe in not only the individuality of the patient, but also in the significance for governments to devalue the prospects of losing to international economic competition when considering the ethics of IVF. Thus, while it may be that other countries that actively promote research on this technology can capitalize off of the market, the United States should not allow this to be the driving factor of IVF laws. This can prevent the same conflicts that arise from pharmaceutical companies, such as the lack of development of a male birth control pill or medications for deadly but rare diseases, which are all deemed as unprofitable. With this having been established, IVF in America can be highly patient-centered, thus optimizing the patient’s autonomy of the process.

Likewise, the governing structures for IVF technology should not be driven from religious contexts. The laws that oversee a nation such as America, which celebrates independence, should not be hindered by religious texts that do not represent every individual of that population. For instance, why should a secular, infertile woman be prevented from attempting IVF due to Christian principles? Thus, if the opponents of IVF come from traditional values and the Christian belief system (Braun 43), their viewpoints should not be the determining factor of such a woman. However, this is not to say that religion should not be incorporated in ethical discussions – in fact, various backgrounds from all religious schools should be considered in order to determine the most ethical approach to IVF. Yet the legality behind this, particularly in the United States, should not be based on this singular belief system that is not demonstrative of the religious diversity that exists in this country. Thus, Congress should continue funding for IVF to promote autonomy, and do so in a way that does so completely, freed from economic greed and inappropriate religious enforcements.

Turning from the patient herself to the life forms being created, another opposing argument against in-vitro fertilization is the damage of embryos that takes place in its clinical process. The question that stemmed debate was what exactly constitutes a life form. When Nida-Rumelin of Germany’s Council of Ethics sparked an “intense public response” for establishing differences between a person and a human being, implying that the latter was inferior to the former, the German parliamentarians officially decided that embryonic stem cell research was prohibited (Braun 47). Likewise, Christian laws state that human life begins at conception, and every form of reproductive technology is negatively seen besides homologous marital IVF (Shannon 154). However, even in light of a Christian perspective, the evaluation of research on embryos establishes that it is allowed with “proper consent and insurance of no harm” (Shannon 153). In fact, in the Jewish community, which shares the same Old Testament with Christianity, IVF is encouraged, with more clinics per capita in Israel than in any other country in the world (Seeman 340). While this stems from the obligation that Jewish men hold to procreate and “to be fruitful and multiply” (Broyde 301), it is carried in a fashion that still maintains respect for fetal life, as the womb is still considered the “privileged locus of divine benedictions” (Seeman 342). Thus, with continued funding from Congress, in-vitro fertilization can be developed to minimize embryo harm and loss, and until then, the United States could take preventative measures that implement limitations on the number of embryos to be trialed on. This is similar to Germany’s approach to IVF, which prohibits women to only three eggs per cycle (Braun 44).

As technology continues to develop with the financial aid of Congress in this project, respect can be maintained for the embryo by limitations – this would satisfy both parties of the debate, by allowing the process to occur for those who believe in their moral right to do so while prohibiting excessive use and preventative damage to the fetal life. Therefore, the prior question of what constitutes the definition of life can remain undetermined while allowing legal actions to maintain autonomy of the individuals who seek this treatment. However, regardless of the existence of these limitations, Congress and all parties involved in this technological process should seek to incorporate the Hindi principles of karma, dharma, and ahimsa to further maintain respect for fetal life (Bhattacharyya 13). This is not to imply that Hinduism should replace Christianity’s influence on the US government; neither should be the deciding factor when laws are being made for a diverse group of people. Rather, I am suggesting the promotion of Hindi principles simply because of the relevance and benefit it can hold in doing so. Discussion regarding these values should be promoted in order to determine the best method in applying the sciences clinically because these three characteristics of Hindu thought reflect upon the consequences of this topic

Specifically, the theories of karma, ahimsa and dharma “ultimately hold each of us responsible for all of our actions” (Bhattacharyya 108). According to Bhattacharyya, “a human fetus is not simply inconsequential tissue easily discarded, nor is it a fully matured adult human being” (107), and taking life will have karmic consequences. These “karmic consequences” can be translated to the overarching idea of ethics that can vary from religious groups, but the idea that such results exist and are negative should be kept in mind to prevent avoidable damage. In addition, while seemingly out of scope within the discussion of in-vitro fertilization, the idea of dharma, or the harm vs good that can result from one’s actions, influences stem cell research that can potentially find cures for organ failure, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s (Bhattacharyya 108): while there may be some life-forms harmed in the process, the overall gains of society may trump the losses, and this is applicable for IVF as well – while IVF may lead to the destruction of some embryo, the baby that is brought into a seeking family may outweigh the deaths of the fetal lives. Lastly, ahimsa promotes the “sanctity of human life” (Bhattacharyya 107), which can further aid in the protection of embryos and other life forms, whether it be a cell or a fully developed adult, regardless of varying religious textual interpretations. Thus, while Congress continues to promote research and usage of IVF through funded supplies, limitations and Hindi principles should be considered to weigh the consequences that can come from potential destruction of embryos.

Lastly, I will briefly shift my testimony from the individual level to that of the family. The United Nations believes that “families can be created between any individuals of full age” (Bhattacharyya 94). This is simply a statement that highlights the diversity of families, which can consist of individuals from all different backgrounds. Therefore, if a Jewish couple is seeking IVF to fulfill their obligation of procreation, or if a Christian couple is looking for the safest way to have a baby that will still constitute the Biblical definitions of marriage, they should be allowed to do so. Some cultures strongly believe in their obligation to procreate, and those who do should be allowed to, unhindered by contrasting religious thoughts of government members. If the family is about to fall apart due to the tragedies that disallow them from producing a baby through copulation, they should have the power to mend the relationship through IVF, supported by the UN’s decree that individuals have the right to create a family.

On the opposing side to this discussion, there is a rising group of neoconservatives in America. Yuval Levin, a leader in the President’s Council on Bioethics, stated that new conservatives in America have a mission to “prevent our transformation into a culture without awe filled with people without souls” (Mackin 37) – this implies that if technological advancements are implemented into every day life, our culture will be dull and the people insensitive. However, this is a limited undertake on the sheer admiration that should exist with the joy of producing a child so willfully sought. The New Atlantis, a recent publication that explores the conservative perspective to IVF and other biomedical technologies (Macklin 34), adds extremist insights on the harms of artificiality. However, as Robert Veatch stated in 1971, artificial is not evil (Macklin 35), and the idea that cells extracted from real humans to produce a real baby that will develop into a real human is “artificial” can also be held for debate.

From the same President’s Council on Bioethics, which is a group established to “advise the President on bioethical issues that may merge as a consequence of advances in biomedical science and technology” (Kass 224), Kass speaks about the major works and missions of the government that promotes diverse conversations on these topics. The Council is faced with high responsibility, with their decisions affecting the lives of scientists, researchers, and future patients, and thus, it is essential to represent all viewpoints on this topic. Therefore, I understand the burden that can be seen with the decision Congress faces currently, whether or not to continue funding for in-vitro fertilization. However, I believe my arguments today have established a viewpoint regarding IVF that attempts to mediate the conflicting religious and ethical concerns of the American population.

Ultimately, as ethical questions continue to be raised with the further development of biomedical technology, technology can also advance limit and resolve these issues, while the technicalities of their usage can be limited to satisfy the clashing values of community members. Extremist approaches from either sides of the spectrum should not hinder the liberty that defines America, and a middle ground can be established, as technology can be further developed to maximize fertility rates and minimize the death of embryos while using in-vitro fertilization. If Congress continues to fund for this program, the progress and development of biomedical technology in this sector will only continue to prosper, increasing the likelihood that the problems observed with harming various levels of life-form from in-vitro fertilization will be mediated. To insure autonomy of the patient, the wishes of the patient’s family, and the respect of the embryo, Congress should continue their monetary assistance for in-vitro fertilization. After all, the United States is the land of freedom, and while ethics from all backgrounds should fuel discussion on IVF, religious and economic reasons should not determine the governing laws on this sensitive issue.


Works Cited

Bhattacharya, S. (2006). Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology. Suny University Press.

Braun, K. (2005). Not Just for Experts: The Public Debate about Reprogenetics in Germany. Hastings Center Report 35, 42-49. The Hastings Center.

Broyde, M. J. (2005). Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law. Marriage, Sex, and the Family in Judaism, 295-328. Rowman & Littlefield Pub, Inc.

Kass, L. (2005). Reflections on Public Bioethics: A View from the Trenches. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15, 221 -250. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Macklin, R. (2006). The New Conservatives in Bioethics: Who are they and what do they seek? Hastings Center Report 36, 34-43. The Hastings Center.

Seeman, D. (2010). Kin, Gene, Community: Reproductive Technologies among Jewish Israelis (Vol. 19). New York: Berghahn Books. Retrieved from

Shannon, T. A., & Cahill, L. S. (1988). Religion and artificial reproduction: An inquiry into the Vatican “Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of human reproduction”. New York: Crossroad.

blog ii Addy Murry

Bhattacharyya communicates a focus on moral dilemmas and the significance of life, suffering and death in making decisions (Bhattacharyya 11)–in the early pages, she explores distributive justice: “How just is it to spend one million on a 25 week premature baby when in the same city, neighborhood, street children are suffering from malnutrition and lack of immunization?” (11). Likewise with prenatal testing, is it more just to assess and address potential risks or hindrances that could and would impact the livelihood of the child so much so that the quality of life may not be one without suffering? So much so that the baby dies upon delivery without a brain? That the baby will suffer from indescribable pain always due to sickle cell? That a predictable, preventable condition could have been assessed and diagnosed far before the potential delivery of the child? Even the risk of a child being born into a family unable to contribute the necessary time, monetary means, treatment mechanisms and around-the-clock care for a severely hindered child bears in mind what causing minimal harm is, can be and could mean under infinite circumstances. The risks associated with prenatal testing would far outweigh the potential harm it could cause; it causes far less harm than so, and the potential to prevent a lifetime of pain and suffering is worth the drawing of fluid and potential, though relatively uncommon, for a defect due to prenatal testing (Bhattacharyya 11). Bhattacharyya references stories that reference many ways of attaining a child–birth, gift, barter, adoption, etc. (Bhattacharyya 51) and while this literature is not taken as law or instruction, it sets the ground for clear acceptance of a multiplicity of acceptable family dynamics and child-attaining measures, from which I would claim support reproductive agency. Though it is said that abortion is morally condemned (Bhattacharyya 45), those in class told us that many who identify as Hindu both accept and perpetuate modern science and consequently would support the use of assistive reproductive technologies–even if drawn from this text, Gandhari goes beyond conventional methods in order to spawn children and if adapted to the times, I am sure assistive reproductive technologies would be included in her pursuit! Bhattacharyya also cites Narayanan’s interpretation of the definitive priority of children-making as contemporary grounds for Hindu individuals to seek assistive reproductive technologies (Bhattacharyya 51). She cites also Desai, who states that the myths explored could be further advanced to show the “ethical acceptability” of alternatively-conceived children for Hindus (Bhattacharyya 51). Likewise, Desai is cited in his belief that Mahabharata narratives also endorse other reproductive measures such as ovum donation and implantation of zygotes (Bhattacharyya 52). If competent care requires cultural competence (Bhattacharyya 24), then I would expect scientific literature and the empirically supported measures allowing for assistive reproductive technologies to be supported by Bhattacharyya. Competent care also involves “a triad of attributes: empathy, curiosity and respect” (Bhattacharyya 25) and if one is to adopt a competent care regime, their decisions are ones made with the well-being of others in mind and their views on reproductive technology are consistent with their intent to better the quality of life for all/humanity through research and the use of preventative measures such as those available through prenatal testing, genetic testing, vaccinations and research on by-products/elements of these procedures (discarded embryos, the fluids of impacted fetuses, terminated fetuses, even..). She cites Radhakrishnan, that “Hinduism is a conglomeration of movements, not a position; processes, not a result; growing traditions, not a fixed revelation–the traditions themselves do not acknowledge a single authoritative body or voice; they celebrate diversity”(Bhattacharyya 26). In this, “having the ability to hold a variety of perspectives is a sign of a sage”(Bhattacharyya 26)–unlike in some lifeworlds, Hindus are not bothered by the pluralism of Hinduism (26). Texts not as literal instruction that has no transience over time and Hinduism as the conglomeration that it is mark a striking difference between Hindu-esque and live-by-the-text-die-by-the-text, often archaic platforms whose spiels, especially in the South, may occupy the Facebook wastelands–as discussed in class, the stories and things encouraged or learned by these popular, influential Hindu texts is more complementary than mandating. The investigation into Hindu bioethics is/was very much novel. Christian bioethics has contributed to Bhattacharyya’s views in that she juxtaposes Hindu ideals with Jewish and Roman Catholic ideals and uses this as foreground for bouncing around the freshly cultivated Hindu bioethics debate. The view of procreation as interpreted by the Roman Catholics from the bible differs heavily from Mahabharata views on procreation as for the former, “God is unquestionably in control of the process of producing offspring” (Bhattacharyya 56)–God, even, is the solution for a barren couple’s strife. The bible also mentions women taking control of their childbearing situations (Bhattacharyya 58); perhaps those interpreting these texts for the masses in different, current times should instead look to these situations as instruction to utilize technologies and hoist all measures necessary to pursue desired life. She compares Roman Catholicism in that it insists that sexual intercourse and procreation go hand in hand inextricably (Bhattacharyya 58) which is seen throughout Donum Vitae and the insistence of all aside from homologous relations being forbidden (Bhattacharyya 59). Bhattacharya notes that the church refusing to delegate between different stages of an embryo and the fact that 1/3-1/2 of all fertilized ova never survive implantation would result in many, countless, beings being damned for eternity on the daily (Bhattacharyya 84). Dharma is a central concept to Hinduism (Bhattacharyya 63) and in its centrality, it is inherently flexible: “new twists and meaning and different times and different groups [make for a] dauntingly broad semantic range” (Bhattacharyya 63) of interpretations and living-forths of dharma. All are also subject to that of karma, which is action—all action is tied to consequences, brought to fruition in either this or another life (Bhattacharyya 65). While one should pursue assistive reproductive technologies cautiously, Hindu texts “reflect a respect for the developing fetal life and argue that it is deserving of protection from harm (Bhattacharyya 86), while they also reflect “support for utilizing various means” for producing children (Bhattacharyya 87), alas insinuating that there is “nothing inherently wrong with IVF, gamete donation and surrogacy” (Bhattacharyya 87). Another dominant worldview shows Hinduism as centric regarding “the sanctity of life of every creature, sympathy for sufferer, service without expectation, contentment and efficiency in all activities (Bhattacharyya 88) — without that which is “selfish and hedonistic” (Bhattacharyya 90). It is said that the ““right” course of action is often dependent on the particulars of a situation” (Bhattacharyya 97), further emphasizing the need to evaluate each circumstance as it is presented and in the context and particulars of the second, week, time, predicament. One can be a good Hindu through living a multitude of truths— “a commitment to the sanctity of life does not automatically prescribe only one acceptable course of action” (Bhattacharyya 107) nor does it preclude one from considering the situation at hand or what would cause the least harm overall, but acts as a guide “helpful for negotiating a path through complicated issues” (Bhattacharyya 107). As stressed before, the lack of a text as a clear guideline, belief that all are acting to cause the least amount of harm and belief in both the agency and ability of Hinduists to determine the best course of action resonate heavily in Bhattacharyya explanation and integration of Hindu beliefs/popular texts and bioethics. The use of many scientific technologies and methods in the lives of these individuals is prevalent; the integration of the learned six key elements of Hindu belief as the centrality of society, the underlying unity of all life, requirements of dharma, multivalent nature of Hindu traditions, the theory of karma, and the commitment to ahimsa collectively result in, again, the crafting of a lifeworld, mechanism of thought, way of thinking which influences all actions and would allow Hindu individuals to discern regarding the use of assistive reproductive technologies.  The methodology of the two authors does not differ so much as the texts and traditions of their respective faiths; Judaism stresses the following of the Hebrew bible while focusing on kinship relations and not violating Jewish law: Broyde does not allow the traditional elements of the text or law to discount all methods of assistive reproductive technologies.

Broyde addresses reproductive technologies and the actions behind it from a point of view based on established norms based on what is appropriate ultimately based on interpretations of Genesis and established Jewish law.  Some differences from Bhattacharyya lie in the focuses of the bioethics discussion– though the length of mentioned texts varies, Broyde heavily focuses on kinship and reducing problematic instances within the family ultimately focusing on parturition and birthday, labeling the gestational mother the mother (Broyde 300), nuances of maternal vs. paternal donation, declaration of Jewishness especially in instances of surrogacy, so on and so forth (300). Another focus of Broyde’s is the halakhic disputes that must be made en route to fulfilling the duty to procreate; he says, even, that to many parties cloning or reproducing without sexual relations would not fulfill the biblical obligation to “be fruitful and multiply” (Broyde 301): however, it is the belief also that the inseminator is the legal guardian of the child and in inseminating, a good deed or “mitzvah” is taking place (301). Regarding kinship, Broyde’s foci lie in the technical relations to the child and how problematic or unproblematic the conception is – this can be easily understood in the proclamation that the child carried to term by a surrogate would, in theory, be forbidden to have relations with not only the genetic mother’s family but with that of the surrogate and hold true with past explorations of how Jewish communities keep records of donors and parents alike to prevent forbidden ties as the child grows older. He finds the halakhic permissibility of reproduction via cloning “without precedent in Jewish law” (310) – this is likely due to the archaic nature of these laws and commands sought in translation. Broyde also emphasizes that the “be fruitful and multiply” obligation is solely paternal – while women are necessary participants in this in theory, “it is quite clear that the normative Jewish traditions assigns no obligation upon a woman to reproduce” (312). Spawning via clone would not result in a mitzvah (313) and the activity itself is neither good nor bad (albeit secondary activities could be bad!)  as the entirety of the process can take place without violating Jewish law, namely so as it does not involve any reproductive technologies aside from implantation – Broyde cites also problematic happenings associated with artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood. If by a male, cloning happenings can even result in mitzvah, but if female, it is simply permissible, morally neutral. Broyde is comfortable explaining and exploring reproductive technologies in relation to Jewish law and would happily provide with kinship and various reproduction scenarios in abiding by Jewish law. As “the death of pre-embryos in the process of attempted implantation” (313) is not violative of Jewish law, Broyde supports many reproductive technologies as viable solutions, even though many are “less than ideal” (314), when the “ideal” method of conception is not viable (314). Moreover, the fact that these technologies oft result in one being able to fulfill the be fruitful and multiply obligation is a plus, recognizing a variety of motives for reproducing as both valid and permitting the use of reproductive technologies to attain the goal of children. Unlike some other populations, “the Jewish tradition adopts a policy of reducing the risk and minimizing the scope of potential Jewish law violations” (315) seeking not to “prohibit that which is unknown” (315) but to help allow Jewish individuals, especially those in need of assistive reproductive technologies, to utilize these measures while abiding by Jewish law to the best of their ability and circumstance. Broyde also, in conclusion, emphasizes that cloning is but an example of a facet of the conquest to conquer the earth (317), “without theological problem in the Jewish tradition” (317). I think Broyde would not find “screening to abort” halakhically permissible but sometimes the proceedings often involved in such necessary, especially in the cases of individuals who did not receive genetic screening otherwise and for whom serious disorders could be an especially pertinent risk. On preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Broyde has said, Using PGD to create a child without a specific illness would seem to be permitted according to Jewish law at the discretion of the child’s parents. The same can be said for PGD that is designed to enhance any given characteristic in a child that increases the child’s ability or functionality, in the discretion of the parents.” (Broyde, 2004, 65) he also says, “Pre-implantation genetics diagnosis as a form of enhancement of one’s ability is much more complicated as a matter of Jewish law than as a treatment for an illness or a disease or to save the life of one’s sibling in need of a blood or bone marrow transplant.” (Broyde, 2004, 75). That being said, I think other prenatal testing i.e. amniocentesis would be evaluated on a case basis and also possibly encouraged by Broyde at times based on my findings from a prenatal testing/Jewish law search in which I found that “prenatal testing that will benefit the health of the mother or fetus is permitted (and even encouraged) in Jewish law” (NISHMAT) and while the implications of each test should be considered on an individual basis, prenatal testing is not in itself prohibited by Jewish law (NISHMAT). Further investigation confirmed my speculations: in his 2004 essays, Broyde notes, “As others have noted, amniocentesis is a genetic test, which, independent of the value of the test itself, must be evaluated in the context of the possibility of abortion. Presumably, the correctness of a fetal genetic test very much depends on what one does with the data after the test is done. Genetic tests designed to induce abortion when the ‘wrong’ genotype is found as a result of the test, would presumably violate Jewish law except in one of the few situations where abortion is permitted. On the other hand, the exact same test, when its results are used for treatment or therapy of the fetus or child, or merely to address pastoral concerns of the parents, is without any intrinsic Jewish law controversy” (Broyde 2004).

Ultimately, both parties would encourage the evaluation of circumstance and necessity when considering measures regarding all reproductive decisions but especially prenatal testing dilemmas. The each-circumstance-varies view holds true and though Broyde’s lenses are those familiar with and seeking to follow/interpret Jewish law, Bhattacharyya’s emphasis on both cultural competency as key and impactful decision making allow them to row similarly in these respects.

Works Cited

Bhattacharya, S. (2006). Magical Progeny, Modern Technology: A Hindu Bioethics of Reproductive Technology. Suny University Press.

Broyde, M. J. (2005). Modern Reproductive Technologies and Jewish Law. Marriage, Sex, and the Family in Judaism, 295-328. Rowman & Littlefield Pub, Inc.


NISHMAT. “Prenatal Testing.” NISHMAT Jewish Women’s Health, NISHMAT,