April 12, 2004

EU Law Attacks Reproductive Choice, Science

In his Telegraph article "EU Law on Eugenics Attacks Our Freedom," English geneticist Steve Jones argues that a recent clause in the draft of the European Constitution, while appearing noble in intent, is actually a "Trojan horse that will undermine doctors and academics."

Specifically, the constitution's Charter of Fundamental Rights insists on "the prohibition of eugenic practices." Yes, that sounds self-evident, says Jones, "but what do they have in mind? Why is eugenics so high on the agenda?" Essentially, declares Jones, in addition to its anti-science stance, "it is an electorally handy attack on the abortion movement, because giving legal rights to the unborn undermines a woman's right to control her body."

Also commenting on the legislation is fertility expert Robert Winston (who will be debating the future of the human species at the Cheltenham Festival). Winston regards the legislation as a lingering prejudice instigated in part by the Catholic Church (especially in Germany) and mixed with simple ignorance about what science can do.

Jones also reveals an inherent contradiction embedded in the constitution, namely the proclamation that "Scientific research shall be free of constraint." Because of the ambiguousness of the term "eugenics," says Jones, the legislation could easily be used to thwart any kind of medical advance that hints at genetic improvement, and by virtue of this, inhibit scientific progress in general.

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