CRISPR Gene Editing Research Shows Promise, But Should Not Be Built on Aborted Babies


By Domenico Bettinelli, MCFL Director of Community Engagement

CRISPR is an acronym for a new medical technology that allows scientists to edit human DNA before birth, with the potential to cure untold numbers of genetic abnormalities that lead to ailments and disease. The process itself is not objectionable in theory because it involves operating on the unborn child without harming them. (For a more extensive exploration of the power and promise of CRISPR, see this article from our member magazine last year.)

However, while the eventual therapeutic application of the technology is not a concern for pro-lifers at this time, the research in developing it could be.

Scientists have now, for the first time in the US, edited the DNA of actual embryonic unborn children using CRISPR, but the unborn children were aborted after they were done.

The research — which has yet to be published — was led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health and Science University. It involved editing a “large number” of viable embryos and effectively correcting disease-causing genes, according to MIT Technology Review. (It’s unclear exactly how many embryos were edited, or which genes.) The embryos were developed for only a few days and were not implanted. Without implantation, embryos cannot develop into babies.

This is unacceptable. We cannot let the ends justify the means. We cannot and should not accept the creation and death of one set of human beings in order to develop medical treatments for others. The linked article debates the ethical concerns of editing human DNA for how it can affect humanity in the future, but the present concern is how the use and disposal of human beings in research is affecting our humanity now.

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