Caldwell, N.J. – Sept. 18, 2014 – The Caldwell University Department of Theology and Philosophy will sponsor “To Kill or Not to Kill:
Celebrating Genetic Diversity in a World That Seeks Perfection” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Alumni Theatre. The speaker will be Mark Bradford, founding president of the U.S. foundation of the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation.
The foundation was established in Paris in 1996 and an office in the U.S. was opened in 2012. It is the world’s largest private funder of research into Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities. Prior to working at the foundation, Bradford was executive vice president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and had worked for many years in secondary education and then as a seminary professor. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife Denise and their seven children, one of whom is blessed with an extra 21st chromosome.
In 1969, Dr. Jérôme Lejeune, a geneticist who discovered the cause of Down syndrome, was honored by the American Society of Human Genetics with its top award. In his acceptance address, he shocked his audience with this question: To kill or not to kill? Lejeune presented the options of life or death in the face of advanced genetic testing that would allow for the termination of those prenatally diagnosed with genetic anomalies. Lejeune’s question has grown in importance as medical technology has made possible advanced prenatal testing. Do we celebrate human genetic diversity by accepting those with genetic differences, or does science pave the way for purifying humanity of those considered “imperfect”?