They say that testing will be able to foretell a person’s future pattern of illness.  Maybe there are benefits, but what are the dangers to society?  M.Y., Toronto

I can foresee books written in answer to this question.  In brief, I suppose, it will depend on who gets the information.

Some genetic disorders are more prevalent in identifiable populations, ethnic groups from particular regions.  Unless there is complete confidentiality, genetic testing could (and probably would) lead to stigmatization and ostracism.  It could lead to ethnic-eugenic discrimination, and, as we know from history, to “ethnic cleansing” and genocide.

There is evidence that both businesses and insurance companies are now using information on genetic predisposition to medical disorders to screen applicants for employment and to limit opportunities for those workers already in the company.  Recently the California legislature passed Bill 1888 which would have prevented employers and insurance companies from using genetic information to screen applicants.  The State Governor withheld his signature until he saw whether approaches other than legislation could work.

In Western Europe, particularly in Belgium, Germany and Denmark there is a growing conflict between insurance companies and the applicants for insurance on the issue of genetic testing.   Obviously the companies stand to benefit if they only insure the healthy, but that leaves whole sections of the community without life insurance to protect their families, and health insurance to cover costs not included in state medical insurance.  In 1988 the European Parliament favoured a complete ban on the use of genetic testing in insurance matters.  Geneticists too fear that if insurance companies are allowed access to genetic information them people will be reluctant to submit to medically indicated tests.  Belgium’s position is a complete prohibition of any genetic information – without exception – to insurers.

This is only the beginning of the debate.

How do we answer those who say they are against abortion but have no right to tell others what to do?  They ask why they should be involved.  J.C., Mississauga

Abortion is the direct and deliberate killing of another human being, totally innocent, totally defenceless, totally dependent on society (that is on us) to protect him or her.  We cannot be neutral for, as Elie Wiesel said in accepting the Nobel Prize: “We must always take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”  If we stand back and do nothing we are aiding the killers.

Moreover, we are involved, because the killing is taking place at our expense.  Our taxes are being used to pay the killers.  In effect there is a partnership between the government (federal and provincial) and the abortionists and thus – whether we like it or not and whether it is against our religion or not – we are forced to pay for abortions.  Other people force their morality (or lack of morality) on us.

The slaughter of children will continue until all people who see that it is wrong speak out loudly, clearly and incessantly.  In 1969 the late Walter Dinsdale MP made a last-ditch effort to stop the Abortion Bill.  He finished his speech by quoting Dante: “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintained their neutrality.”  It may be uncharitable to say so, but it seems likely the hot spot is going to be very crowded!

Sanctity of life has a meaning for those with a Judeo-Christian background.  What do we say to people of no religion?  S.T., Toronto.

Though they may not realize it, the sanctity of life ethic is expressed in everyday life by people who have never been inside a church or synagogue.  It can be seen in hospitals and medical research centres where doctors, nurses and researchers work tirelessly to save, salvage and mend lives.

In our society, the police forces protect our lives from battery and assault; members of fire departments risk their lives to save others; relief forces face great odds to get medical supplies and food to areas where there is war, or flooding or other natural disaster.  There is legislation against all forms of homicide in the Western world with the exception of abortion (and now, today, in Holland of euthanasia).

Apart from preborn babies, who are non-persons in the eyes of governments and pro-abortionists, life is seen to be sacred and to be protected in many types of legislation; swimming regulations; drivers’ tests; safety in the workplace; prohibition of smoking in workplaces and public areas; gun control; prevention of pollution; and outlawing of drugs.

Medical research and education are aimed at enhancing and extending life; public education on diet; proper exercise; the effects of smoking, alcohol and drugs; the dangers of sunbathing etc.

Moreover, there are many pro-life activists – some very well known – who have no religion, and some who say they are atheists, who struggle daily to protect the sanctity of life.