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Posted on December 15, 2008 at 4:43 AM

No one. At least that’s my view. Certainly not American Catholics who use birth control, IVF, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, and a wide range of other reproductive technologies previously and even more so now get a Holy finger wagging from Rome.

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Moreover, I don’t know any American Catholics who oppose the commonplace forms of human enhancement we use today and even the borderline ones such as taking brain-boosting drugs or drugs to help us sleep at night.

And this concept that the conservative movement more generally keeps leveraging–human dignity–the centerpiece of Catholic bioethics? Perhaps it could be useful, if anyone knew what it meant.

The only group, as was claimed in a Washington Post story on Friday, who may care about the Vatican’s edicts are bioethicists who will, for a short period of time ponder the what, the why and the implication of Rome’s declarations.

Bioethicists care about what Rome does, but I would argue not any more than we care what other nations rule in regard to reproductive technologies or other major religions decide on these very same issues.

So the Vatican has taken its stance like any other organization, religion or individual can. We will discuss it, debate it and wonder what difference it will make. But the Catholic church is fundamentally different from governments or other kinds of organizations.

The Catholic church is neither in touch with or interested in developing recommendations for the 21st century to which its followers could or would adhere and it is not a government with police power, at best the Catholic church will do what it has just done. Take positions knowing full well that no real change will come of it.

Summer Johnson, PhD

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