On Sunday, the people of Switzerland accepted changes to the law governing Medically Assisted Procreation (see Pre-implantation Screening authorised in Switzerland). This legislation currently authorises the creation of twelve embryos for in-vitro fertilisation, pre-implantation screening of these embryos and the freezing of excess embryos for a renewable period of five years. If they are not implanted, these embryos will be “destroyed or used to produce embryo stem cells”. Finally, pre-implantation screening is authorised not only for serious hereditary diseases but also to detect chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome. The law does not cover the reimbursement of pre-implantation screening by medical insurance but some are already calling for this.
The Conference of Swiss Bishops responded following this vote: it “regrets the positive decision taken by the Swiss people” which “compromises the integral protection of human beings from conception through to natural death”. With these latest authorisations, “we are eradicating embryos which are probably carrying a disease instead of taking care of these lives”. The Bishops sought to remind “disabled people to believe in their dignity and to welcome the fact that so many people contribute to their lives”. They also repeated the fact that “recognition of the full dignity of every human being, even the most powerless, is essential for a fair society”.
Several politicians have also deplored the latest measures, “For the first time, human life, right from the outset, is subject to evaluation and marketing”, declared Counsellor Christine Häsler. “Many promises were made during this campaign to ensure a rigid framework and, above all, to prevent any deterioration in the situation surrounding disabled people in society. We will have to see whether these promises are met when we vote on budgets,” warned Mathias Reynard.
This warning is shared with the associations safeguarding the interests of the disabled: “The right of future parents not to know must be upheld at all costs. They should not be forced to undergo any examination”, stipulated Inclusion Handicap.
Nineteen organisations involved in the social sector and united under the slogan “diversity instead of selection” also regret the outcome of the vote on the 5 June, but “welcome the huge society debate raised by this issue”. They have announced their intention “to continue their commitment to a society without standardised constraints within which disabled people or the sick are accepted and supported like other people”.
Tribune de Genève (6/06/2016); Radio Vatican (6/06/2016); 24Heures (6/06/2016)