Public Bioethics and the Gratuity of Life: Joanna Jepson's Witness Against Negative Eugenics

Studies in Christian Ethics 18 (1):15-31 (2005)
In 2002, then Cambridge student Joanna Jepson initiated a legal, ecclesial, and media conversation on selective termination for disability. Making herself available in a way that is vulnerable, palpable, and effective, Jepson has used subtle rhetorical skill to question the ways certain lives are appraised as precious or expendable. The now Revd Jepson’s witness may adumbrate a boundary past which the task of truly public bioethics becomes precarious. While ethicists may persuasively argue in the public square against positive eugenics — against selectively breeding or genetically enhancing conception — opposition to negative eugenics — against the elimination of ‘unfit’ lives — stretches the bounds of apologetics. The theological bioethicist may be called to gesture toward the Whence? and the Whither?, even if the purveyors of public bioethics find this an objectionable undertaking
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DOI 10.1177/0953946805052114
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