Uruguayan Legislation on Artificial Insemination "Unacceptable"

Would Allow Embryos to Be Donated

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, JUNE 24, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Legislation on artificial insemination now being studied in Parliament is unacceptable from a moral point of view, says Archbishop Nicolás Cotugno of Montevideo.

The archbishop expressed his position during Sunday Mass, the Uruguayan episcopal conference reported.

In a press statement, Jesuit Father Oma Franca-Tarrago, director of the Institute of Ethics and Bioethics of the Catholic University of Uruguay (UCU), pointed out aspects of the controversial draft law that is being examined in the Senate.

He attributed «enormous ethical consequences» to the draft law, which he described as «morally unacceptable.»
<br> In the opinion of the priest and physician, the content of the draft law in general «authorizes human beings in the initial stages to be donated, as objects are donated.»

Father Franca-Tarrago added that the term «pre-embryo» is used «to conceal the fact that it is a question of an already conceived and genetically unique and unrepeatable human embryo, whose development is exactly like that of any other human being.»

Moreover, «it gives centers of artificial insemination the right of ownership of the gametes and embryos of couples, removing from the latter all rights over their embryos or gametes, once they pass six months,» the press statement confirmed.

«Although the law expressly prohibits an in-vitro fertilization center to sell or do business with human embryos or gametes,» Father Franca-Tarrago clarified, the text «makes embryo banks the owners of embryos that are donated to them and allows them, under the euphemism of donating them to other couples, to charge for the services rendered and profit at the expense of the women who donated them.»

The draft law deprives the child born through the use of these techniques of a father, as it «permits the human reproduction techniques to be applied to the woman alone» and injures the right of the child to know his biological origins completely, the priest stressed.

Moreover, no sanctions are foreseen, not even in cases of a criminal character such as when a bank that owns embryos decides at some point to eliminate them, his statement said. And while embryo experimentation is prohibited, it is not considered a crime; at most, offenders will be guilty of an administrative infraction, the statement explained.

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