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Life is not a bargain
Bishops´ conference on donation of gametes and commercial use
A Sub-commission for bioethics of the Bishops’ conference of Slovakia published a statement last week regarding donation of human sex cells and their commercial use, reacting to various activities of domestic and foreign companies that appeal to young people to become “voluntary donators“ of gametes (sperms and eggs) and offer methods of assisted reproduction on the base of use of these gametes. SIR Europe office in Bratislava, in cooperation with the Press office of the Bishops’ conference of Slovakia, brings the following interview with president of the Sub-commission, Mons. Stefan Secka.
Why have you decided to publish the statement regarding donation and commercial use of gametes?
“Many facts representing part of people’s life are commercialized, becoming a subject of business and having an impact on the deepest core of a human being. Adverts and appeals to young people to donate their gametes appear in our country, along with strong propaganda in favour of artificial fertilization. There is also a problem of infertility which is often a consequence of use of contraception or wrong lifestyle. All this leads to a step that sex cells of the third person are used to conceive a new human being. It deeply affects dignity of a person, that’s why the Sub-commission for bioethics of the Commission for theology of the Bishops’ conference has decided to deal with this problem and issue the statement”.
Is it based on some recent concrete situation or case?
“This is not only a question of recent period of time. It’s a problem of several decades that has culminated in the past few years. Institutions profiting from these matters try to develop a mentality of some new “procreation“, a new type of creation of human life. On the other side, they deprive this human life of his real dignity and inviolability, exposing it to the risks of manipulation and devastation. In some countries, the demand for human sex cells or even embryos is so high that the gametes become a subject of business: it’s about purchase-sale equation, lowering it to the level of any other kind of commodity”.
What exactly can we find in the statement?
“Matter of ’donation’ of the gametes is formulated in seven points. The first one consists of an explanation that donation of eggs or sperms is in contradiction with natural law of a child conceived this way. Child needs to know his or her biological parents, it has a great importance for the knowledge and formation of the identity. Then – the use of donated gametes violates marital unity, dignigy of spouses and their exclusive right to become father and mother solely through each-other. The third point is important because there often arises a false argument trying to excuse an artificial fertilization and donation of gametes: an intense desire of spouses to have ’their own child’ and explanation that motherhood and fatherhood are not reduced to a mere biological fact. Those who donate their gametes actually cooperate on another morally unacceptable deeds. It often means violating of the right to life for children conceived from donated gametes that don’t survive and are never born. Not to mention the risk for a child associated with an artificial fertilization. The fifth point says that anonymity of the donor doesn’t respect the right of child to know his or her biological origin, which can lead to serious consequences. Another point expresses negative attitude towards establishment of so-called banks of human sperms or eggs for the purpose of artificial fertilization, pointing to a danger resulting from commercializing of this area. Donation of sex cells also creates a possibility of their misuse in ethically questionable research”.
What are your expectations in regard to this statement?
“First of all, a clear voice of the Church must be heard, to help the faithful find orientation in these matters. They are often subject to the pressure of media or various types of commercials trying to manipulate them. Therefore, the main effort of the Sub-commission is to say a clear word for correct orientation of the faithful. Among the members of the Sub-commission for bioethics there are experts in the area of medicine, psychology and moral theology, headed by the bishop. Our arguments originate in natural moral law, written in human reason and heart by the Creator. And faith of the Church is in accordance with it. This statement can help all reasonably thinking people, because apart from the knowledge rising from our Christian faith it is also supported by the knowledge of human reason and heart”.
According to one of the members of the Sub-commission, prof. Jozef Glasa from Slovak medical university in Bratislava, it is essential that true and correct information on the field of bioethics gets to those who represent the most endangered group – young people, regardless of their religious orientation. “Advertising and commercial interests often push true information and healthy reason aside. Many steps, accomplished perhaps as a result of lack of information or without deeper evaluation, can’t be reversed or corrected. That’s why it’s good that on the ‘market of the world’ there is still a place for the voice of reason and healthy moral orientation, represented by this statement”, concludes prof. Glasa.