"The dignity of procreation": French bishops intervene to block extension of medically assisted procreation



In a document over 100 pages long entitled "La dignité de la procréation" (The dignity of procreation), French bishops—who have unanimously signed the document—take a firm stance against extending medically assisted procreation to lesbian couples and single women. As far as the bishops are concerned, this extension of the law "would have serious repercussions on parentage, the mission of medicine and the establishment of health priorities inspired by care requirements".

 

Based on two key principles, namely dignity and fraternity, the document identifies five ethical obstacles: removal of the paternal reference, which would undermine the good of the child, the risk of commercialisation and a threat to the very mission of medicine since the technique would no longer be used because of "medically recognised infertility" but in response to the desire to have a child. Lastly, the ever-increasing conceptual burden of the "parental project", which "reinforces human will to the detriment of biological reality" and the inability to justify this legislative change on the basis of equality alone: "Otherness in terms of gender can lead to differentiated treatments" and "if the argument of equality can be used to justify the establishment of double maternal genealogy, how will it be possible to refuse surrogacy" to men?

 

"MAP cannot be considered a simple technique because it involves human procreation which is closely linked to human dignity", explains Monsignor Olivier de Germay, Bishop of Ajaccio. "Procreation cannot go hand in hand with instrumentalisation or the creation of commodities. By watching over the very beginnings of existence, we concerned about this essential hospitality that is the acceptance of human life". For the bishops, beyond an "emotional or simplistic" approach, this document is intended to stimulate debate. It is a case "of acknowledging the fact that the object of the desire—a child—is a human person. […] Technology must not be the only answer to this suffering". The bishop believes that "it is vital to expand research into the causes of infertility (with particular emphasis on the link between ecology and fertility), and to consider a family policy which does not constantly delay the average age at which a woman has her first child".

 

In response to the bishops' concerns, Agnès Buzyn confirmed that the extension of MAP would not lead to surrogacy because the latter uses "a woman's body to carry a child that she will not keep" and as such "enters the realms of commodifying the human body".


Sources: 

La Croix, Marie Malzac (20/09/2018) et Loup besmond de Senneville (21/09/2018) ; Le Figaro, Jean-Marie Guénois (20/09/2018)