Rome, Italy, Feb 14, 2011 / 16:04 pm
The Bishops’ Conference of France has condemned the manipulation of France's first “savior sibling.”
Umut Talha, whose name in Turkish means “hope,” was born Jan. 26 at a hospital in Paris. The boy was “designed” 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 “unfit.” 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 Umut’s 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 “to cure a sibling for humane reasons is honorable.” They expressed their understanding of the parents’ sadness and their hope in a medical solution, but stated, “to 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 him—even if to cure another human being—is disrespectful of human dignity.”
“Utilitarianism 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,” the bishops said.
They called for “acceptable research be carried out so appropriate therapeutic treatments will be found.”
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris rejected the use of “savior siblings” as “the exploitation of one human being for another,” as he spoke Feb. 8 before the French National Assembly. It is wrong “to 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?” he asked.