Catholic bishops clarify ART stand


This isn’t the first time that faithful Catholics have struggled with church opinion. In the Religion News Service/Washington Post, there is a report that US bishops are working to clarify reproductive options for infertile Catholics. During a meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia said there is “great confusion among lay Catholics regarding the church’s teaching on human reproductive technologies… There is a need to help Catholics understand specific differences between the Catholic understanding and a secular understanding of human life.”

Church teaching permits assistance of natural reproduction within a marriage, ie the man/woman together kind of sexual reproduction, but not pregnancy resulting through assisted reproductive technologies, ie laboratory kind of non-sexual reproduction. Tests and medical intervention for low sperm count are permitted as is assistance for ovarian problems. What is not permitted is artificial insemination, even with the husband’s sperm.

American bishops recently approved a document called “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology,” which states “Children have the right to be conceived by the act that expresses and embodies their parents’ self-giving love.” It stated that the church “has compassion for couples suffering from infertility and wants to be of real help to them. At the same time, some reproductive technologies are not morally legitimate ways to solve those problems.”

And while that may be true for church leaders, Glenn McGee, a scholar at the Center for Practical Bioethics, said, “American Catholics are no more going to listen to this than they listen to the church about birth control.” According to the Catholic church’s own estimates, only 4% of married Catholics are using natural family planning.

If infertile couples, Catholic or not, are told they can conceive with technology, it’s going to be difficult to stop them. American culture celebrates scientific development and for those wanting the pitter pat of little feet, it’s going to feel unreasonable to condemn these couples for taking advantage of the opportunity.

Source: Medical News Today


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