Special Commentary on Vatican Instruction

Drew Christiansen, S.J., America’s editor in chief, has written a special commentary on the Vatican’s new instruction on bioethics, Dignitas Personae. Among the topics taken up in the instruction are in vitro fertilization, cloning and stem cell research.

You can read it here.

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The full text of Dignitasis here. You may need to scroll down to view the English translation.

Tim Reidy

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9 years 7 months ago
I don't think we would ever have considered in vitro, mostly because we could not have afforded it. We were blessed with a child conceived the natural way. To get to that point, we did need invasive testing and therapies and frankly, there is little difference between the degree of clinical involvement required for that and full scale in vitro therapy. If egalitarianism in access to such therapies is of concern, the proper course is not to denounce them, but to call for insurance coverage for all who require them to have a child. While I agree that eugenics is a slippery slope, I do not share the life concerns for the blastocyst propounded by the Congregation. I would suspect that embryologists would agree with me on this issue, as prior to implantation and gastrulation, the blastocyst shows no directed development or organization beyond cleavage into many cells and the separation of the stem cells from the chorion, which will become the afterbirth. Stem cells in the blastocyst and the eventual adult stem cells are not ontologically different. There is no organism to protect at this stage. While there are practical concerns to stem cell research, owing mostly to the poor quality of most embryonic stem cells (many of which would never be viable in the normal course), the moral concerns are overblown. Until the Congregation deals honestly with the status of the blastocyst, instead of starting with the goal of affirming prior doctrine, its other concerns will not be given serious weight by professionals or Catholics in search of alternate therapies.

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