Here are some news stories for the Christian community to consider, given the ethical concerns they raise. I drafted this post several months ago, so I’m sure there may be updates or more fresh issues in the news today.
1. Swedish doctors transplant wombs into 9 women (the story via AP News)
"Nine women in Sweden have successfully received transplanted wombs donated from relatives in an experimental procedure that has raised some ethical concerns. The women will soon try to become pregnant with their new wombs, the doctor in charge of the pioneering project has revealed. The women were born without a uterus or had it removed because of cervical cancer."
This new procedure seemingly offers hope to many women who haven’t been able to have children. The dilemma is not what one might suspect—using another person’s organs to bring life into this world. Rather, the concern is whether or not an experimental procedure should be used on live patients who don’t have a life-threatening illness. Note that this is not a quality of life issue. It is, however, one that may help fulfill a family’s desire to have children. Does the gospel provide us with a theology of life and risk in such situations?
2. Couple who are just friends allowed to adopt, judge says in landmark ruling (the story via NY Daily News)
”The couple, who are not identified in the court papers, became friends in 2000. Later, they decided to adopt a child from Ethiopia but had to petition a court to put the man’s name on legal papers as the second parent.”
What makes two friends adopting a child different from a single person adopting a child, which is legal? What many will argue is that friendship is not a binding-enough covenant or, at least previously, a legally-recognized relationship that will provide the stability needed for a child.
3. Chimps should be recognized as ‘legal persons,’ lawsuits claim (the story via CNN)
“‘To be a legal person, one doesn’t need to be a human being or even a biological being. A corporation is a legal person,’ wrote Joyce Tischler, co-founder of the Animal Legal Defense Fund.”
Christian doctrine has always affirmed the goodness of God’s creation, including the animal kingdom, though sometimes this emphasis has fallen to the wayside. Nonetheless, as Genesis 1:26-27 makes crystal clear, only humans are graced with the imago dei. What then does theology, philosophy, and anthropology make of the term “person,” and should certain animals be ushered into this category and granted legal rights?
4. Belgium divided on euthanasia for children (the story via BBC)
"Belgium legalized the right to euthanasia for adults in 2002. Now the Senate has voted to extend the law to children who are terminally ill, and suffering unbearable physical pain."
Some claim that this is a logical move in response to its earlier law concerning adults, while others claim that it would be a scandal tantamount to insanity. Christian doctrine may ask, if the different between a child and an adult has a bearing on their accountability, might it also have a bearing on their ability to make life-altering—indeed life-terminating—legal decisions?