Conception Without a Father?

Jesuit Geneticist Comments on Australian Report

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ROME, JULY 18, 2001 ( If laws allow it, children might be born without fathers, given the new and controversial system of artificial insemination reported recently by Australian scientists.

The technique, used successfully on guinea pigs, makes possible the fertilization of the ovum with any cell from the body, and not necessarily semen.

The procedure theoretically could open the way for the creation of a biological daughter with the genetic material of two women, excluding the male contribution. To understand the repercussions of the new technique, Vatican Radio interviewed Jesuit Father Angelo Serra, professor emeritus of human genetics at the Catholic University of Rome.

–Q: Let´s talk about the most enormous aspect of the news, the possibility of creating “offspring without a father.” Are we faced with a science that is about to clash with the traditional family?

–Father Serra: Precisely, and, in my opinion, it creates a situation in which it is practically impossible to achieve the desired result, even at the scientific level. There is the phenomenon of “imprinting,” namely, the need to have real masculine chromosomes for an individual to be able to develop normally.

However, even if they succeed in arriving at this point, a serious problem remains: Research presupposes dozens of embryos, human individuals, subjected to experimentation and to a death that can be described as “programmed,” because it is known that it will most certainly come. Also, there is the risk, not to say the certainty, of very serious malformations of the individuals who are developed.

–Q: News such as this, so full of unknowns, suggests the need to establish supranational bodies to control the activities of those who manipulate the very fundamentals of human life, no?

–Father Serra: I agree, but the media should assume its responsibility. To report news such as this, in the sensational way it has in recent days, is to create a situation not only of curiosity but of morbidness. Lesbians might think: “Now we can also have a child,” something that, even in the present scientific situation, is absolutely false.

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