Groucho, Bioethicist

Ethics & Public Policy Center publishes a quarterly journal on technology & bioethics called New Atlantis. The latest edition has two short essays from an Orthodox & a Lutheran respectively, responding to JPthe Great's theology of the body. The former includes an interesting variant on Groucho's claim he'd never join a club that would have him as a member: no one who would consent to be the person making decisions about what lives are worthy is worthy to make such a choice.
Of course, there was always a certain oafish audacity in Fletcher’s degenerate driveling about “morons” and “defectives,” given that there is good cause to suspect, from a purely utilitarian vantage, that academic ethicists—especially those like Fletcher, who are notoriously mediocre thinkers, possessed of small culture, no discernible speculative gifts, no records of substantive philosophical achievement, and execrable prose styles—constitute perhaps the single most useless element in society. If reproduction is not a right but a social function, should any woman be allowed to bring such men into the world? And should those men be permitted, in their turn, to sire offspring? I ask this question entirely in earnest, because I think it helps to identify the one indubitable truth about all social movements towards eugenics: namely, that the values that will determine which lives are worth living, and which not, will always be the province of persons of vicious temperament. If I were asked to decide what qualities to suppress or encourage in the human species, I might first attempt to discover if there is such a thing as a genetic predisposition
to moral idiocy and then, if there is, to eliminate it; then there would be no more Joseph Fletchers (or Peter Singers, or Linus Paulings, or James Rachels), and I might think all is well. But, of course, the very idea is a contradiction in terms. Decisions regarding who should or should not live can, by definition, be made only by those who believe such decisions should be made; and therein lies the horror that nothing can ever exorcise from the ideology behind human bioengineering.
That's exactly right, and it's a good way to think about the subject. It's like Lincoln's aphorism, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." (While we're talking eugenics, Hubby has always thought someone could make a great movie about the life of Carrie Buck. She was the allegedly low-intelligence woman whom the state sterilized after Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for SCOTUS in its infamous Buck v. Bell decision, concluded: "Three generations of imbeciles are enough." In her old age, it was shown that Carrie Buck was not mentally deficient --just on the low side of normal, and she deeply regretted never having kids, feeling something important had been stolen from her.)
The second reflection is more a summary of the teaching itself, and useful in its own way. Although for the best summary of everything JP II taught about "the person," check out Fr. Walter Schu, LC's book Splendor of Love.