Saturday, June 10, 2006
Swiss Bishops Decry Use of "Medicine Babies"
Call It "Shocking Eugenics"
ZURICH, Switzerland, JUNE 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Swiss bishops' conference has called the practice of creating babies solely for medicinal purposes a "shocking" and unacceptable development in eugenics.
In a message of the bioethics commission of the episcopal conference, released Wednesday, the bishops refer to Switzerland's first "medicine baby," born in Geneva in January 2005, as "shocking eugenics, enveloped in good sentiments."
The baby girl was conceived through artificial insemination, and was selected in a Brussels laboratory to become a compatible donor of bone marrow for her 6-year-old brother.
"Although it is not prudent to criticize the subjective intention of the parents who have suffered and rejoiced with the cure of their son, it must be recognized that the technique of 'medicine babies' constitutes a worrying form of eugenics," stated the document.
"For this 'medicine baby' girl to be born, Mrs. Hilde van de Velde's Brussels laboratory deliberately produced 20 to 30 human embryos for the purpose of selecting them," the bishops said. "One of them had the good fortune to survive. But the rest were eliminated and destroyed as vulgar merchandise."
The document explained that the practice is inadmissible for two reasons.
First, because we are faced with "human embryos voluntarily produced and eliminated."
The message of the bishops continued: "A noble end does not justify killing embryos, which are individuals of the human species. Here the embryo is not treated as an end: It is used as an instrument and considered as merchandise.
"This practice is a regression of humanism, which is particularly insidious as it camouflages with the emotion aroused by the sick child and the parents' suffering."
Second, the letter stated, the selection of human beings is an act of eugenics.
"Eugenics is an odious practice, which consists in selecting the children that will be born according to utilitarian criteria that does not respect their intrinsic dignity," the bishops wrote.
"In this case, an exterior demand, medical and technical, decides who deserves to live and who deserves to die," the message said.
The note added: "This embryo deserved to live because it is genetically compatible with the recipient of the bone marrow, while the other numerous embryos were killed for the sole reason of not having the required characteristics."
The Swiss always were on the cutting edge of every pharmaceutical advance. And neutral in war, even the war on abortion it seems.