Comment by the CCCB on the Report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on the Draft Legislation "The Assisted Human Reproduction Act"

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  1. Given the complexity of the issues and the time that members of the Committee on Health have taken to consult with Canadians and the care that they have taken to listen to a variety of perspectives, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops will study the Report carefully.

  2. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops welcomes the recommendations to maintain among the prohibitions those on cloning, including so-called therapeutic cloning; germ-line alteration; the marketing of gametes and embryos; and the strengthening of the provisions against commercial surrogacy.

  3. The Committee’s recommendation that the definitions be significantly improved in the draft legislation is very much appreciated, particularly its finding that “the term ‘human reproductive material’ is offensive in its inclusion of the embryo."

  4. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is particularly pleased with the recommendation that the proposed legislation continue to ban the creation of embryos for research purposes because human embryos are human beings, who deserve to be respected and treated as human subjects, not as research objects.

  5. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is deeply disappointed that the Committee has decided to allow research on embryos who remain after fertility treatments. While we would like to support embryonic stem cell research, which has the potential to do good, we cannot because the research kills the embryo. No amount of healing or good can justify the deliberate killing of a human being or using a human being as a means to an end. The Committee’s decision is all the more puzzling because it heard evidence that adult stem cell research, which does not involve harming another human life, is showing remarkable promise.

  6. The Committee’s attempt to limit research on embryos who remain after fertility treatments to those situations where there is no other way to accomplish the research recognizes that this is a profound moral issue with serious implications. Its recommendation that regulated standards be developed in relation to the maximum number of eggs that may be harvested and fertilized and the maximum number of embryos that may be produced is also indicative of the respect that is due to the embryo and very welcome.

    However, having abandoned the basic principle that human life cannot be destroyed for the potential benefit of others, it will be very difficult to maintain the limits that have been set on embryo research. Experience with other serious moral questions leads us to believe that once the door is opened it will be very difficult to shut. Researchers well know from the physics of the law of inertia that once processes are put in motion it is very difficult to stop or change direction.

  7. At a time when more and more bath and beauty products bear witness to an increased sensitivity by advertising “no animal testing”, our society is at risk of having legislation which will for the first time permit research that will result in the death of a human being. This is incongruous and deeply troubling.


For More Information Contact:
Deacon William Kokesch
Director, Communications Service


Last Updated on Tuesday, August 15 2006  
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Canada’s oldest diocese, the Archdiocese of Quebec, was established in 1674. Most Reverend François de Laval was its first Bishop.