Catholic archbishop: With new law, foundation of French bioethics ‘has been erased’

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort. Credit: Diocèse de Reims.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 30, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic archbishop said Wednesday that a new law passed by France’s National Assembly has “erased” the foundation of French bioethics.

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French bishops’ conference, made the comment on June 30, the day after the lower house of parliament definitively adopted a new bioethics law allowing single women and lesbian couples to use state-sponsored medically assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

“The foundation of the ‘French bioethics’ [bioéthique à la française] of which our country was so proud has been erased: the dignity of every human being — big and small — is no longer the primary focus,” Moulins-Beaufort, the archbishop of Reims, said.

The law was adopted with 326 votes in favor and 115 against, with 42 abstentions, after two years of debate in parliament. According to the Associated Press, LGBT groups had pushed for the measures since 2013.

In addition to funding IVF treatments, the new law facilitates the creation of chimera animal-human embryos, as well as research on embryos and embryonic stem cells.

The text of the law also allows two women to be recognized as “equal mothers” if they have the proper paperwork notarized before the birth of a child via IVF.

But assisted reproduction for people who present as transgender women and the ROPA method, or “shared motherhood,” — in which the embryo is fertilized with the egg of one woman inside the uterus of the woman’s female partner for gestation — were excluded from the text of the law.

Moulins-Beaufort said: “Now that the law of our country authorizes new transgressions, it is more important than ever that each person finds the means of vigilance and personal discernment in order to make his or her choices in full awareness of their ethical consequences.”

“The satisfaction of a need — even a legitimate one — the principle of equality, the needs of scientific research, the fear of disability, cannot justify treating human beings as manipulable and disposable material.”

The French bishops had been vocal in their opposition to the bioethics bill.

Most recently, the bishops’ conference launched a campaign in January to pray and fast for the protection of human life from conception before the bill returned to the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas of Rennes, head of the French bishops’ conference bioethics group, said that the law represented a “failure which hurts our democracy.”

“This failure is all the more serious since bioethics law is not a law like the others, since it concerns the conception that one has of human dignity and the respect that this engages in all,” he said.

“How to move forward now? … Is human dignity at the mercy of each other’s opinions?” he asked.


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