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Holy Birth Control! Vatican Issues Instructions on Bioethics

Hoping to catch the attention of Roman Catholics, doctors, scientists, and lawmakers, the Vatican has issued a 32-page instruction document on bioethics. The Church's steadfast pro-life position, that all life is sacred including an embryo, informs the document "Dignitas Personae" (The Dignity of the Person).

Some positions include:

  • On in vitro fertilization, human cloning, genetic testing of embryos before implantation: These procedures violate the principle that every human life is sacred, and that children should be conceived only through sex by a married couple.
  • On stem cell research: Research should not be done on embryos, but using cells derived from adults, blood from umbilical cords, or from fetuses “who have died of natural causes” is acceptable.

To find out what the Church thinks about the morning-after pill and freezing embryos,


  • On the morning after pill: The morning-after pill, the IUD, and RU 486, can result in what amounts to abortions.
  • On freezing embryos: It exposes embryos to potential damage and manipulation, and raises the problem of what to do with frozen embryos that are not implanted.

In an age where medical technology rapidly advances, the Church could play a crucial role in reflecting on how to preserve human dignity. Of course, the Church is only one participant in the dialogue, and disagreement with its positions allows society to sort through the murky waters of bioethics.

Do you think the document offers a useful perspective, or should families, lawmakers, and scientist ignore everything they have to say?


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