Putting the person back in the centre of medicine

Putting the person back in the centre of medicine

by Nicole Duprat, teacher, France

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) has been developed by Englishman Alan Handyside in order to enable parents with a genetic disease not to transmit this onto their children. There is nothing wrong about this desire and the parents’ wish, thanks to the progress of science, not to have to pass their genetic diseases onto their children. However, what has a devastating effect with PGD is the arrogance of scientism to want to control everything and not to recognise any boundaries.
In this context let us think of the activities of researcher Jacques Testart, scientific father of Amandine – in 1982 the first artificially produced baby in France – who wanted to end the “research for the sake of research” and postulated a right to “non-research” and an “ethical break” in 1987. He was convinced that science is not able to give an answer to everything. In 1990, Jacques Testart was dismissed from his hospital laboratory, because he refused to select embryos, since the risk of eugenics appeared too great to him. He had realised that by doing so one puts the foot in the stirrup of a horse that cannot be controlled!
We are living in a highly sexualised society where money has replaced truth. Medicine is speaking with a forked tongue by pretending on the one hand, to put full attention to the birth of “healthy” children and to help couples to control their fertility, without mentioning the excessive medicalisation of the human body. In reality, it is very often about technical efficiency combined with the pharmaceutical companies’ power of money.
In this obscure mingling of financial power and science and their interactions, medicine no longer serves the people, but serves as a ground for dangerous desires and perverse ideologies, whatever you want to call them: eugenics or transhumanism. Let us not forget that you can also be carriers of a gene, without developing and transmitting it. After a Promethean phase (Prometheus brought the fire from heaven) current science is approaching Faust’s image and plays the demigod.
A person must never be reduced to a diseased organ or to his physical appearance. Eugenics is the negation of any disability or illness. Health standards and criteria for “normality” should never be determined by the arrogance of a few who, apart from that, are not able to grasp the meaning of human existence, due to their sick thoughts.
There is no one on earth who will not be affected one day by illness, deformity or physical weakness. Many teachers, including myself, have witnessed in their classes disabled children radiating much goodness, kindness, warmth and sympathy. I thank Emilie, Alexandre, Guillaume for their cheerful and lively presence, as well as Stéphanie, a true intimate friend. It is also obvious that the important thing is not physical health, but mental health. Many so-called healthy people having a functioning body, pounce on the banalities of the materialist world, where it is simply about meeting the standards of health, wealth, social success, youthfulness, intelligence and all the aesthetic requirements of fashion. They behave as if all people being affected by illness or disability, did not meet this uniform “luck”, and therefore are to be rejected, refused and considered as outcasts of society, and thereby they deny them equality. Are we not already living in a society where aging is prohibited considering all these numerous anti-wrinkle creams?
The gift of being able to make the experience of life is applicable to every human being without exception. This does not mean merely enjoying, but solving the challenges life gives to us with dignity and in solidarity together with our fellow human beings. Each individual is unique. Why pinning a problem on parents, when they want to receive a disabled child, as if this would be a shame from the medical perspective?
If made-to-measure production of children in the laboratory and construction of human robots violate our conscience, it is because both mean an overt disparagement of “being human”, of our humanity.
PGD is not sick because of the diseases and disabilities it wants to eradicate, it is sick because of its idolatry of technical efficiency, emerged from the frenzied upswing of medicine since the 19th century and because of the glorification of science. Its sense is ultimately nonsense, opening the gates to any degeneration.
Let us recall the words of Robert Oppenheimer, one of the inventors of the atomic bomb:
“If we want to obtain encouragement from the beneficial influence of science on current ideas, we must do so with caution, by not even for a moment losing sight of the fact that these relationships are not inevitable and absolutely happy.”
It is high time to put the “person” back in the centre of medicine.     •
(Translation Current Concerns)

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