By Lisa Zengarini
French Bishops have expressed their disappointment over the final approval of a new controversial Bioethics Law, saying it is an ideological imposition that cancels the dignity of every human being.
Concerns on the ethical implications of the new law
The legislation, which has been proposed by President Emmanuel Macron's République en Marche party (LREM), passed on Tuesday with 326 votes to 115 and 42 abstentions. Its definitive approval follows a long heated debate in the country in which bishops have repeatedly voiced their concerns on its ethical implications. Over the last year or so the Church and other opponents to the reform have called attention on a number of critical points, starting from the bill’s flagship measure extending legal access to Medically Assisted Reproduction (PMA) to all women, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status. Until now PMA was only allowed for married heterosexual couples with fertility problems. Other critical issues concern the cultivation and storage of reproductive tissue and embryos.
The dignity of every human being has been cancelled
The arguments forwarded against the law, however, have not been considered by legislators. Hence the disappointment expressed by the president of the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF), Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims. “Despite several years of debate, a logic has been established that makes the dignity of the human being a relative value”, the prelate writes in a statement issued on Wednesday. “What we are seeing is the victory of an ideological will, in spite of the alarm expressed by our fellow citizens, based on simple common sense. The basis of French bioethics the country was so proud of, that is the dignity of every human being, has been cancelled", he adds.
Freedom and responsibility
According to Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort, “now that the law allows for further offences" it is “more important than ever for everyone to be on the look-out and discern so as to be fully aware of the ethical consequences of their choices”. Hence the call for a “responsible freedom” because, he points out , "the satisfaction of a need, however legitimate, the principle of equality and the needs of scientific research cannot justify treating human beings as manipulable and disposable material".
The law may tell us what is legal, but cannot tell us what is good
Noting that "the law may tell us what is legal, but cannot tell us what is good”, Archbishop de Moulins-Beaufort finally reiterates that the new legislative framework further undermines ethical barriers making everyone “more aware than ever of our own personal responsibility ."