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Suzanne Scorsone in Antigonish, N.S.

On November 10, 2004, Dr. Suzanne Scorsone, the spokeswoman for the Toronto archdiocese, addressed a group of students at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, N.S. on "Reproductive Technologies and the Law: Questions for the Thoughtful Catholic," (The Atlantic Catholic, Nov. 27, 2004). She told her audience that Bill C-6, the Reproductive Technologies Bill which included embryonic stem cell research and which was passed by Parliament in March of 2004, was worthy of support despite its flaws.

Clare Lazzuri reported for The Atlantic Catholic that Dr. Scorsone's support for Bill C-6 "was strongly based on the fact that without this flawed legislation, the alternative is a vacuum on reproductive technologies in which anything could happen." The newspaper report also told us that Dr. Scorsone spoke of "embryos, which we as Catholics believe are individual beings."


What then are those flaws that Dr. Scorsone downplays as not significant enough to defeat the Bill? (Note: Dr. Scorsone made a presentation to the Senate hearings pleading that they should pass the Bill that they did).

The Bill allows:

* in vitro fertilization (which is an intrinsic evil in itself and also results in the death of approximately nine out of ten embryos);

* many types of cloning that are not specified in the legislation;

* the use of human embryos for research;

* consent of parents for the use of their unborn offspring for research, which kills the embryo;

* formation of animal-human hybrids; post-mortem harvesting of sperm and ova; sex-selection of embryos, in order to diagnose or treat (read abort) a sex linked disorder or disease; and surrogate motherhood.

The Bill also fails to define "human being" or recognize the humanity of the embryo and fetus. It even forbids the maintenance of an embryo's life outside the body after the fourteenth day of its existence, and therefore mandates the killing of an in vitro embryo if it is not implanted, or it its development is not suspended by freezing.

Pope John Paul's Encyclical Letter, Evangelium vitae No. 73 teaches that it is licit for an elected official to support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by an existing law by amending it, or to limit the harm that might be done by a proposed law by amending it. It does not however, therefore, permit an elected official to vote for a proposed law if after its amendment, it still contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals, as did Bill C-6.

It is relevant to note that on June 3, 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a document which was approved of and ordered for publication by Pope John Paul 11 on March 23, 2003. Its title is 'Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons'. That document stated that "when legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the public good is gravely immoral When legislation is already enforced, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him ... if it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 'could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law'. This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable." In other words, no Catholic had a right to support, or vote for, Bill C-6 (emphasis ours).

As for the reference about "embryos, which we as Catholics believe are individual human beings," here again, Dr. Scorsone is in error. The biological identification and definition of a human embryo is a matter for the relevant science of human embryology to determine, and not matter that can be decided by religion or philosophy. The fact that a human being comes into existence at conception was first demonstrated scientifically more than one hundred years ago by Wilhelm His, the father of human embryology. The fact that an embryo begins its existence at conception is known to those who accept the evidence of science whether they are Catholics, believers in some other religion, or have no religion at all.

We are surrounded by a trendy world-view that disregards, or fails fully to comprehend, not only the truths of religion, but also the truths of science.
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Title Annotation:Canada; Reproductive Technologies Bill
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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