Christian organizations like New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms are passionate about the protection of innocent human life. Sadly, the availability of abortion and the growing movement for physician-assisted suicide have eroded the respect for human life that ought to be integral to American society. Over the past century, technological advances—especially in the area of medicine—have helped people to live longer and healthier lives. However, technology sometimes creates ethical problems surrounding the protection of human life.
In a recent New York Post op-ed, Heritage Foundation scholar Ryan Anderson discusses the ethical implications of genetic modification technology. According to Anderson, Chinese doctor He Jiankui states that a technology called CRISPR-Cas9 has been used to genetically modify two human embryos who were later born. In some instances, genetic modification may be well-intentioned; for example, Dr. Jiankui claims to have modified the genes of the two embryos in an effort to make them resistant to HIV. Also, Anderson states that technology “holds potential to treat a variety of genetic disorders, such as cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell disease.” But genetic modification comes with very real costs. Anderson points out that “countless embryos were destroyed in the process that led to the live birth of these two genetically modified children.” Also, technology like CRISPR-Cas9 could allow “parents or government authorities to dictate the characteristics of future people.” Finally, the long-term impact genetic modification might have on a person remains unknown.
Typically, the law lags behind technological advancements. At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we call upon government to anticipate the ethical concerns that could arise from advances in technology and take steps to protect human life and human dignity.