Bioethics debate in France

French Bishops accuse President Macron of legitimising “liberal eugenics” with new bioethics law

The French Bishops have accused President Emmanuel Macron of legitimising “liberal eugenics” with a new bioethics law.

Driving the news

The Permanent Council of the Bishops of France issued a declaration January 13 in response to the bioethics legislation’s passage to the Senate from the lower house, the National Assembly, where it passed more than comfortably last October with 359 votes in favour, 114 against and 72 abstentions.

The Bishops have been making known their reservations to the law at least since last July, and again in September, when they organised an open forum at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris an open forum on bioethics and medically-assisted procreation, or PMA.

Go deeper

In their latest declaration, the French Bishops warned that the bioethics legislation, “if finally adopted”, would open the door to “insoluble contradictions” and “a serious misconception of what ethics is”.

The law opens the way to “a misconception which, if not clarified, would be of the order of carelessness for the future” and would impact the whole of French society, the bishops said.

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At the heart of the prelates’ objections to the bioethics act is the public funding of PMA for “any couple made up of a man and a woman, or two women, or any unmarried woman”.

That open access to PMA runs the risk of “subjecting… medically assisted procreation of a new human being to a ‘parental project'”, and thus of making the parents’ “absolute desire” a priority over the good of the child, the Bishops lamented.

Not only that, but the decoupling of recourse to assisted procreation from the infertility criterion is, for the Bishops, another step too far.

“The legalisation of filiation without a father or paternal ancestry and of motherhood by simple declaration of will, before the notary, even without the woman experiencing gestation, achieves the ‘unbelievable'”, the prelates decried, before asking: “Is it right to take society in this direction?”

Why it matters

The French Bishops saved their strongest pleas against the legislation, however, for the protection of conscientious objection rights for medical practitioners – as in cases of abortion – and also for the elimination of the extension of the pre-implantation diagnosis.

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“Not wanting a child without any genetic variant is an illusion, but it would also dehumanize our humanity!”, the Bishops warned on that last point.

They added that the creation of further opportunities “for an increased selection of unborn children” paves the way for a “liberal eugenics”.

For the record

The issues the French Bishops have with the bioethics law – PMA for all to satisfy a mere “parental project” and the extension of pre-natal checks – “tell us something about the headlong rush in which our western societies, subject to liberalism and market laws, are caught”, the prelates cautioned.

“We encourage citizens to make their reservations known”, the Bishops urged, before concluding:

“We reiterate that every child should be allowed to grow up free and protected in their dignity, in communion with all others, throughout their life, whatever their ethnic or social origin, religion or lack of religion and sexual orientation.

“No human being can treat another as an object”.

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Cameron Doody

Director and editor at Novena
PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. Lecturer in ethics at Loyola University Maryland, Alcalá de Henares (Spain) campus. Religion journalist with 4 years experience.
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