Ethically Confronting the Measles Outbreak

Ethically Confronting the Measles Outbreak
Before I had children, I was upset to discover that some vaccines were problematic from a Catholic perspective because they were derived from fetal cell lines. As someone who considers herself pro-life, I certainly hesitated at the thought of giving them to my future children. Obviously, it would be ideal for all the available vaccines to be ethically sourced. How was I to weigh the problematic origins of the fetal cell lines with the public health good of vaccines, not to mention the health of my children? But since the United States declared measles eliminated in 2000, the need for the vaccine didn’t feel so urgent; it seemed very unlikely that my future children would come into contact with the disease. Read More »

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Engaging in Scientific Discourse

Due to the reaction and responses to an earlier Rational Catholic analysis of a scientific study, I’ve been concerned about some persistent misconceptions about the nature of scientific discourse. Some Catholics have conflated asking valid scientific questions about a study with personal attack. Scientific discourse is about engaging with the ideas presented in a paper. In this case, no one is criticizing the scientist in question as a Catholic or even as a person. Raising legitimate scientific questions about a study is not “unjust”, “taking shots at [a scientist]”, “taking sides”, or “hateful.” Rather, these inquiries question methodologies problems and factual errors in the paper. These issues are well within the realm of scientific discourse and are in no way personal attacks. Likewise, personal information about a scientist (religious affiliation or political beliefs, for instance), have no bearing on the scientific merits of the work he or she produces. This is the nature of science.Read More »