Cameroon bishops oppose new law allowing artificial conception

YAOUNDÈ, Cameroon – Cameroon’s new legislation allowing artificial means of conception has been condemned by the country’s Catholic bishops as posing “serious ethical and doctrinal problems”.

The law enacted on June 29 allows Medically Assisted Procreation (MAR), including artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and transfer of gametes and embryos.

On June 29, 2022, the Cameroonian parliament passed a bill that will allow married and unmarried couples to access medically assisted procreation.

The law requires those applying for MAR to be legally married or to prove they are living in a relationship. The couple must also demonstrate that their inability to conceive is due to “a medically diagnosed pathology”, or that they are suffering from a congenital disease likely to be transmitted to the child.

Public Health Minister Manaouda Malachie defended the bill, saying it helped families struggling with infertility issues.

“This bill is very important for our families and our country. It will make the child, the family and the whole society more comfortable,” Manaouda told reporters in the capital, Yaoundé.

Lawmakers said the legal framework excludes people who are fertile and medically healthy but have deliberately refused to procreate, including same-sex couples.

Catholic bishops in the central African country have said the legislation goes against Christian anthropology.

In an August 8 statement signed by the president of the National Episcopal Conference, Bishop Andrew Fuanya Nkea, the bishops condemned “the artificialization and unacceptable manipulations in the field of medically assisted procreation.”

The Prelates said giving birth to children is always a joy for parents and is linked to God’s mission for humanity when he charged men and women to “go and multiply”.

But the desire to procreate, according to the bishops, should not lead to contempt for human dignity.

“The Church understands the suffering of families battered by infertility. This is why the Church encourages research that seeks to prevent such infertility or cure it,” the statement read.

“While the desire to procreate is legitimate and biblically justified, it does not legitimate all the means of obtaining a child. In other words, the child is no longer a gift from God to be welcomed, but a right that must be obtained or even produced at all costs, and at all costs,” the bishops continued.

“A child’s desire cannot justify its production.”

The prelates said MAR violated the dignity of the human person by using the human body as an instrument, posing “serious ethical and doctrinal problems”.

“Catholic doctrine teaches that there is an intrinsic link between sexual intercourse and procreation,” the bishops said, adding that MAR severs that link, thus rendering it “morally wrongful and inconsistent with God’s plan for human life. “.

“The practice of extracorporeal fertilization or in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer is particularly condemned by the Church. This practice is done in the laboratory and not in the woman’s uterus. It uses the man’s sperm and the woman’s eggs, very often from an anonymous donor. All of these manipulations cause reproductive overkill, and thus rob human reproduction of its dignity,” the statement read.

The prelates also declared that the freezing of embryos is contrary to the dignity reserved for the human person and leads to banks of frozen “orphans”.

They said MAR can create identity issues for children in situations where sperm come from an anonymous donor or where surrogate mothers are involved. It is “a serious injury for the child who could end up not knowing his mother or his biological father”.

“The intervention of assisted reproductive technologies substitutes the marital act as a means of conceiving a child, and thus becomes morally illicit and inconsistent with God’s intent for human life.”

On the contrary, Church leaders urged couples to “accept the failure of irremediable infertility” and called them to “hold to the only valid human surrogacy procedure, that of the adoption of many orphans who need a home for their proper growth”.

Although MAR has been practiced in Cameroon for years, there was previously no legal framework regulating the practice.

The new legislation establishes the legal framework to guide hospitals conducting or seeking to conduct MAR. It also explains in detail who is eligible to undergo the practice.

“As a Catholic Christian, I hesitated to pass this law,” said Peter Njume, a member of Cameroon’s parliament.

“But the cost of not having a regulatory framework could be significantly higher,” he said. Node.

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