Ethical guidelines needed for reproductive technologies, says bishop

.- Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act must include protections for the human embryo as a person “entitled to the same fundamental rights as all other human beings,” said Bishop Ronald Fabbro of London, Ontario.

The bishop is the chairman of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF). The current Act does not do so, said the organization in a Nov. 9 document submitted to the Department of Health.
The current proposed regulations are unacceptable, said the bishop, because the regulations do not “allow donors to consent to a human embryo being killed for its stem cells, and to consent to a human embryo being created, used and potentially killed for scientific research or educational purposes.”

Furthermore, they do no allow donors to consent to their eggs or sperm being used to create a human embryo outside the conjugal union of a married couple. Nor do they allow donors to consent to an embryo being “used” for reproductive purposes by the donor, posthumously by the donor’s partner, or by a third party.
“No person can ethically consent to any of these uses of human sperm, eggs, or embryos. The proposed regulations cannot validly enable donors to consent to such unethical purposes,” Bishop Fabbro wrote.
The current regulations offend the inherent dignity and worth of human beings because they explicitly allow the creation of more embryos than needed for immediate reproductive use by those for whom they were created, said the document. “As such, the regulations fuel the problem of frozen embryos, that is, human beings who are deprived of their freedom and exposed to a high likelihood of death without ever having the opportunity to be born.”

COLF said it affirms the Catholic position that no one has the power to consent to the creation or use of another person as a means to an end. “Parents or others may not validly consent to their child or another person being created or exploited for scientific advancement, including purposes such as education, the refinement of reproductive technologies, or stem cell research,” the bishop said. 
COLF requested that Canadians be informed about what the issues concerning reproductive technologies and the possible side effects of IVF on children and parents.
As well, COLF said, if the government insists to continue the practice of IVF, it should restrict the definition of “donor” to a married couple and not open it up to a third party.

Donors should also be able to give conditional consent rather than blanket consent for uses of their donated embryos, said the bishop. “This would allow donors to specify, for instance, that in vitro embryos created with their reproductive materials may not be used for research purposes. No subsequent custodian of such embryos would be able to donate them for research,” he said.

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July 25, 2014

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