For whatever reason, the six-year venture of the Women’s Bioethics Project has come to an end with a recent announcement that they are closing their doors. But their work is not really finished, it is evolving. Kathryn Hinsch writes on the organization’s website:
We need ways to reach people outside of the academic and policy realms. Leveraging the power of popular culture is a compelling strategy that engages the public in a visceral and dramatic way. Many emerging technologies and ideas were unimaginable until recently. Genetic testing, designer babies, radical life extension, and neural imaging, to name just a few, are still in their infancy. And there is a great opportunity for determining how these issues are framed in the public mind. Policy will follow public opinion, so we must ensure progressive values are part of the national conversation.
Christian bioethics similarly needs a strategy to educate and equip those in the pew. Academic materials are not easily translated and filtered down to families who I personally know are engaging in embryo screening and pursing IVF without the ability to acknowledge some of the theological considerations or tragic outcomes. A new project I am embarking on with The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity is a church bioethics council which seeks to develop lay-level materials for the church. Christians will (hopefully) not only be better equipped to engage these ethical dilemmas in their own circumstances, but also equipped to impact culture with a theological view of bioethics that recognizes the dignity of all humans, no matter their age or stage, above a progressive bioethics agenda that seeks whatever science will permit. Kathryn Hinsch has a great insight, that in order to inform public policy, people outside of the academy and political realms need to be reached. What Christian bioethics has that secular bioethics does not have is a gathering place for a concerted educational impact to occur.