Developments in assisted reproductive technologies in recent decades have presented us with an array of remedies to the problem of infertility, as well as different ways of having a child. These developments raise complex legal and moral questions for society, and cause Christians to consider these technologies in light of an understanding of marriage, procreation, the desire for children, and the pain of childlessness.
‘Future family’ will explore the moral questions raised by these scientific advances, the impact on our understanding of family, parenthood and children, as well as our practical and pastoral responses to infertility and childlessness. The conference is open to all, but may be of particular interest to church leaders, those involved in pastoral care, medical practitioners, Religious Studies teachers, as well as those with a general interest in the ethical issues raised.
To help us explore these issues, we will be joined by Matt James, Director of the Centre for Bioethics and Emerging Technologies at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, London, and Dr Calum MacKellar, Director of Research at the Scottish Council on Human Bioethics.
The conference is free and open to all; lunch will be provided; booking is essential.
Welcome and Introduction 9.15 – 9.30
Session 1: Creating Families: Medical, Legal and Moral Considerations (9.30 -10.30) Matt James
Data indicates that 121.34 million babies were born into the world in 1978. Yet there is one birth which is remembered with particular interest: Louise Brown, the world’s first so-called ‘test tube’ baby created through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The advent of assisted reproductive technologies offer many couples facing the pain of infertility, the hope of having a child of their own. But how might this challenge our understanding of what family is? Is a child a gift or an artefact for us to choose and mould according to our desires? Exploring how the Christian faith can speak into issues of fertility, allows us to begin to navigate the ethical and medical implications, at the same time as exercising Christ-like grace and compassion.
Tea/Coffee10.30 – 10.50
Session 2: Selecting Children: Should we choose only healthy or enhanced children? (10.50 – 11.50) Dr Calum MacKellar
What will it mean for society if science enables us to choose a future child whose health, athletic ability or intelligence is predetermined? This future is becoming ever more likely with the latest developments in human reproduction - but concerns are growing about the implications. New procedures making possible heritable genetic modifications such as genome editing open the door to ‘sanitized’ selective eugenics; but these practices have some unnerving similarities to the discredited eugenic programmes of early twentieth-century regimes. A Christian perspective based on Scripture gives us the resources we urgently need to evaluate both current and future selection practices.
Session 3: Supporting Fertility: Practical and Pastoral Reflections (11.50 – 12.30) Panel Discussion with a GP and a pastoral care practitioner.
The final session will explore some of the practical and pastoral concerns when caring for women and couples suffering the pain of infertility and childlessness. What is available and possible through primary care? How can we better understand the experience of infertility? How can churches reflect the Bible’s sensitivity and concern for the childless? How can the church be a place of fellowship, comfort and encouragement?
Panel Q&A12:30 – 12:50
To book your free place, please visit: