Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Dr. Laurie Zoloth regarding the bioethics program embedded in the Oncofertility Saturday Academy (OSA) curriculum. During our conversation, we also touched upon religion and how that factors into the bioethics portion of the OSA program that Dr. Zoloth leads. In addition to working with the young women of OSA, Dr. Zoloth has also led discussions on religion with oncofertility researchers and clinicians. She states that, “starting this dialogue at the community level is a way to resolving some of the conflicts that have emerged in the last two decades.”
As you can imagine, reproductive medicine and religion have at times, had somewhat of an acrimonious relationship. Introducing this subject matter to young women interested in reproductive medicine opens up a dialogue for further inquisition down the road when they are doing research in their own labs. According to Dr. Zoloth, “these complicated issues, which the girls really understand, have to do with looking carefully at the competing moral appeals behind the different positions that evaluate this kind of research.”
For Dr. Zoloth and her colleagues, introducing the topic of religion demonstrates to the girls that science is not separate from the humanities and that every decision made in science is a “moral, value-laden decision.” It is important for any young scientist to have a grasp on how the decisions invoked by their work are a part of their science as well. It also makes for better science because it brings a sense of awareness to the research. Dr. Zoloth argues, “it’s important that when the debate on religion and science goes forward, it’s not a debate that’s just held at the elite levels of the university with competing scholars making points about the relative value of science or religion, but the debate goes all the way down to the bench side and to the communities in which these girls reside.”
As OSA enters it’s 6th year this January, we hope to continue to have an impact on the young women in our community that may one day, be integral to the scientific world. Learn more about the national OSA program here.
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