Assisted Reproduction: for Love or Money?

Business Interests Dominate, Geneticist Says

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ROME, MAY 15, 2001 ( Father Angelo Serra has fears about who is controlling the new reproductive technologies.

«Cloning is still in the hands of scientists and technologists who wish to satisfy their whims, and of politicians who are incompetent in this matter,» said Father Serra, professor emeritus of human genetics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

The geneticist addressed the congress entitled «The Embryo: A Human Person,» organized by the Logos Pastoral Center, and held recently at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.

Father Serra, 82, a world pioneer in the field of genetics and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, explained during his address that «in the United States, the hypothesis of human cloning has been condemned for the time being because it would be a premature and risky experiment; however, it is not a clear ´no.´»

The priest, who was a collaborator of Nobel Prize recipient Renato Dulbeco, said that, in regard to in vitro fertilization, the situation is similar, because «there are no precise regulations, as a serious commitment is lacking on the part of those who should decide» on this matter.

Commenting on the low success rate of assisted-reproduction techniques, he said, «From the deontological point of view, doctors should refuse to subject 90% of patients to painful treatments, which do not give any results.» In fact, only 10% of would-be mothers are successful in having a child.

«In general, a pharmaceutical product does not reach the market if it is harmful to the majority of patients, but the field of assisted reproduction has become a real business and matter for speculation,» the geneticist concluded. «In the United States alone it is practiced in 250 clinics.»

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