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CCCB pastoral message misses major flaw.

Ottawa -- On March 29, 2004, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act became law in Canada. Recently, a number of proposed regulations for implementing the legislation were published. Members of the public were invited to submit comments. On November 25, 2005, the Permanent Council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), in a pastoral message to Christians, called on them to participate in consultations on implementing the legislation.

The Permanent Council does not advise the public to completely oppose the legislation, but to act by "choosing life in small ways," presumably by suggesting means by which harm done by the Act would be partially mitigated. The bishops regard the most significant defect of the Act to be its "failure to prohibit ... the destruction of the human embryo," inasmuch as the Act permits research to continue "without concern about the destruction of numerous human embryos."


It is indeed a fact that a few embryos are destroyed by such research. What is not considered is the further fact that in vitro fertilization (IVF) itself results in the death of 19 out of 20 embryos so conceived. IVF is itself immoral and condemned by the Church (Donum vitae, 1987).

Human reproduction can be assisted either by moral or immoral means. Even though the Act clearly concerned assisted human reproduction and did not prohibit but implicitly allowed IVF, and despite the fact that IVF is condemned by the Church, the CCCB did not object to IVF as such when the Act was presented to Parliament, and they do not appear to object to it even now.

Without IVF, there can be no research on human embryos. "Choosing life in small ways" would be justifiable if it meant that in morally acceptable ways the evil done by a law was in fact significantly lessened. However, partial restriction of research conducted on human embryos cannot ever succeed in practice in significantly mitigating this slaughter of the innocents. To think that it will do so is a delusion. The government can and will simply introduce further outrageous laws and regulations, one after another, each of which will only be minimally mitigated by partial opposition. The slaughter will proceed apace.

In short, in order effectively to prevent research on human embryos, IVF, by all methods, including sexual methods and cloning, must be prohibited by law in both the public and private domain. If we are ever to succeed in abolishing these crimes against humanity we must lay the axe to the root of the tree. (John B. Shea, MD FRCPC(C))
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Title Annotation:Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2006
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