Friday, June 11, 2021

The Way We Look Upon Life


A Catholic ethicist  in the Diagnosis of the Times column of the Catholic Peace Weekly considers some of the social, ethical and legal implications of the way we look upon life.

In 1984, the UK published guidelines for embryonic research called the 'Warnock Report', and this is what it says about human beginnings.

The timing of the various stages of (human) genesis is important, and once the process begins, there is no special part of the process that is more important than others. Everything is part of a continuous process, and if each step is not done normally, at the right time, in the right order, there is no subsequent growth.

In other words, human life begins as soon as sperm penetrates the cell wall of an egg, and there is no more or less important part of all subsequent processes. So once human life begins, the whole process of development must be protected and respected.

By the way, 'Warnock Report' is not a guideline designed to protect embryos. The goal was to decide how long to keep the embryo alive for embryo research and experimentation. Therefore, 'Warnock Report' recommends that "the law should allow research to take place after fertilization for  14 days and this was under the pretext of assuaging public concerns.

The reason why it was based on 14 days after fertilization was this is when  individual's observable traits are present. However, as stated in the same guidelines, there is a logical contradiction within the guidelines, as the 14-day criterion is only one stage between the 13th and 15th, and there can be no particularly important stage in the occurrence of life. Nevertheless, these guidelines have affected the whole world. Because, at that time, many countries could not miss the enormous economic benefits of embryonic research along with the development of science and technology.

The most powerful reason for the need for embryonic research in a formal way is always research for infertility treatment. Fueled by parents' desire to have children, childbirth through IVF is also a major success in medical commerciality. But let's put it in perspective. What does it really mean to make dozens of human life (embryos) in vitro, select embryos to implant in women's womb, and then freeze or give away the rest for experiment? First, imagine looking at a selected embryo and one that isn't. The selected embryo will now be  implanted, hoping to grow healthy and give birth.

However, the unselected embryos, are frozen or  donated for experimental use  with no interest in their fate.  This cold stare at abandoned embryos makes us uncomfortable with human life. In other words, it implies and spreads the fact that only the early human life chosen is valuable. And we can see that this kind of thinking is also deeply related in the incidents of abortion.

Recently, the International Society of Stem Cell Research (ISSCR),  created a guideline to ease the 14-day standard so that human embryos can be studied after 14 days in the laboratory. The reason is that various life science studies, including early development studies of human embryos,can be conducted to determine the causes of repeated miscarriages and birth and genetic diseases. This wonderful reason was in the Warnock Report and has since continued to talk about human embryo research as if it contributes greatly to the good of mankind, but in their eyes, human early life is not even human life, but just material for their own research. What a cruel and frightening gaze!

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