If you are looking for online resources in bioethics, here are a couple of useful sites (following on from my recent post about the distortion of language in bioethical reporting).
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a bioethics page with links to various articles and downloadable pamphlets. The topics include: stem cell research, cloning, genetic enhancement, IVF, eugenics, human dignity, reproductive technology, etc.
The Anscombe Bioethics Centre is the main Christian bioethics institute in Britain. The resources are here (articles, publications, newsletters, etc); and there is a big list of articles and links here at their old Linacre Centre site (I’m not sure if all these articles have been moved over yet).
I also happened to come across this very informative blog last week called Mary Meets Dolly, “A Catholic’s Guide to Genetics, Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology”. The author, Rebecca Taylor, has her own page of links (I can’t recommend them all as I haven’t looked at them all yet…). And this is from her ‘About’ page:
My name is Rebecca Taylor. I am a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and more importantly, a practicing Catholic. I have been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years. I have been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life.
All of this began several years ago when I was discussing stem cells and cloning with an older gentleman at a family party. He was very knowledgeable about biotechnology, but was surprised about many little-known and quite misleading facts. He asked where I had gathered those facts, and I told him I was reading every pertinent scientific reference I could get my hands on. He looked me in the eye and said, “Young lady, it is not good enough to read, you must do something!” I found out later he was a former U.S. congressman from California.
Indeed, I began to notice a general lack of understanding about contemporary issues in genetics, genetic engineering, and reproductive technology, issues that have shaped, and will continue to shape, the future of humanity, for good or ill. I work with professionals whose business is medical genetics, and even they are confused about the pragmatics, not to mention the ethics, surrounding cloning, stem cells, and recent advances in genetic engineering. If professionals could be confused, I feared that the average Catholic would feel lost amidst the scientific jargon and, unfortunately, the hype.
I decided to start marymeetsdolly.com to try and provide Catholics with solid, pertinent resources and clear, plain commentary so they could be more conversant with the issues proffered by the newest of the “brave new world” movements.
With this website, I hope to take what I have learned (through months of studying the technologies and ethical stances involved) and explain the advances and the issues in terms the person-on-the-street can understand. With the help of my father, a theologian, I hope to juxtapose and illuminate today’s genetic research and engineering with the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life.
At this site, Catholics can find information to better understand stem cell research, therapeutic and reproductive cloning, genetic testing, and much more. The Topics section has articles covering various technologies; what is moral, what is immoral. It also has articles on pertinent topics by other authors. The Books section has a reading list for those who want to do their own research. The Links page has a list of websites through which one can keep up to date in this rapidly changing field. The Glossary page lists important terms and their definitions. The Church Teaching page has official Catholic Church teaching on reproductive issues and the sanctity of human life. The Blog has my daily thoughts on new developments and a chance for you to respond. And my favorite, the Quotes section, has all the verbal gems I have found that say it all.
On the question of language, see her post about whether our understanding of when human life begins is a matter of belief or of knowledge.