Status of Human Embryo Defended by French Bishops

Parliament Debating a Law on Bioethics

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PARIS, JAN. 28, 2003 ( The president of the French Catholic bishops’ conference has asked that the debate in Parliament on bioethics legislation not reduce the human embryo to a mere object.

In a note entitled «There Are No Exceptions to the Respect Due to the Human Embryo,» Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux applauds passages of the draft law that are opposed to reproductive cloning.

But he criticizes aspects of the proposal that permit experimentation on human embryos.

On behalf of the bishops, the statement says that the draft law allows «the creation of embryos for the purpose of experimenting with new methods of assisted procreation» and adds: «We hope that this disposition, so lamentable, will be rejected by Parliament.»

The document, published Monday, emphasizes that the Catholic Church supports biogenetic research that seeks cures for illnesses.

«The objective is totally laudable, but it poses the question of means,» Archbishop Ricard states in the note.

«In the measure in which research harms the embryos, which are used to the point that afterward they can only be rejected, we state that these embryos have been reduced to the rank of objects,» the note says.

«However, the human embryo cannot be treated as a thing,» it adds. «It would be a grave transgression. For the first time, a human being in gestation would be legally ‘reified.’ The door would be open to grave abuses, as we know the considerable economic pressures that are exerted on these» kinds of research.

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