.- The Bishopsâ Conference of France has condemned the manipulation of France's first âsavior sibling.â
Umut Talha, whose name in Turkish means âhope,â was born Jan. 26 at a hospital in Paris. The boy was âdesignedâ through in vitro fertilization and genetic selection to cure one of his siblings of a serious genetic disease that causes anemia and requires repeated blood transfusions.
Using in vitro fertilization, scientists conceived a number of embryos and discarded those considered âunfit.â They then implanted the embryo that did not carry the disease so that the baby could be a compatible donor.
In the future, cells extracted from Umutâs umbilical cord could be transplanted to his older brother to cure him.
In their statement issued Feb. 9, the French bishops noted that the desire âto cure a sibling for humane reasons is honorable.â They expressed their understanding of the parentsâ sadness and their hope in a medical solution, but stated, âto legalize the use of the most vulnerable human beings to cure another is not worthy of man. To conceive a child in order to use himâeven if to cure another human beingâis disrespectful of human dignity.â
âUtilitarianism is always a step backwards. It is dangerous for a society not to respect the primordial interests of the child as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of Children,â the bishops said.
They called for âacceptable research be carried out so appropriate therapeutic treatments will be found.â
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris rejected the use of âsavior siblingsâ as âthe exploitation of one human being for another,â as he spoke Feb. 8 before the French National Assembly. It is wrong âto use someone exclusively for another, as one child would become an instrument for seeking a cure for another child. Are we going to turn each other into instruments?â he asked.
The first âsavior siblingâ was born in the United States in 2000, followed by similar cases in Spain and Belgium.
The Church opposes the manipulation of persons as tools for scientific research, and differentiates between the humane act of wishing to help oneâs neighbor from the use of defenseless persons as instruments of research.
Catholic teaching also opposes in vitro fertilization for two main reasons: First, because it is a procedure contrary to the natural order of sexuality and attacks the dignity of the spouses and of marriage. The technique also involves the elimination of human embryos both inside and outside the womb, resulting in numerous abortions in each case.