Reproductive Technology Report Urges Ethics
Babych, Art, National Catholic Reporter
OTTAWA - A $28 million report on new reproductive technologies in Canada is getting mixed reviews as Catholic church officials ponder its implications.
"I'm very happy with the direction the report seems to go in," said Msgr. James Weisgerber, general secretary for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Weisgerber said the CCCB would study the 1,300-page report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, released Nov. 30, before making detailed comments.
However, he said the commission did not seem to "recognize the human and ethical implications of all these technologies, and (the bishops) want them addressed."
Indeed, the commission's apparent emphasis on ethics over technology also found favor with Anne Mason, project coordinator for the Vanier Institute of the Family, an interdenominational organization. "That's a very important distinction in our mind because as far as we're concerned the ethical rather than the technological considerations should be paramount," she said.
But, she said, the institute is "very supportive" of technologies that "assist families to create family."
The commission made 293 recommendations in the report, which took four years of work - twice as long as expected.
The report, "Proceed with Care," recommended a ban on surrogate motherhood, the closure of sex-selection clinics and a prohibition on the sale of human eggs, sperm, embryos, fetuses or fetal tissue.
"There is a need to prohibit those uses of technology that contravene Canadian ethical and social values," said Dr. Patricia Baird, the commission's chairwoman. Other technologies need to be regulated "to ensure that only accountable, beneficial use of acceptable technologies occurs," she said.
The commission also called for a new national commission to be set up "to ensure that new reproductive technologies are only provided in a safe, ethical and accountable way within the boundaries of acceptable practice and research."
In its submission to the commission in January 1991, the CCCB's permanent council said that most of the new technologies were invasive, painful and experimental and that surrogate motherhood was "particularly exploitive. …