Bishops in France have voiced their opposition to proposed legislation that would expand access to reproductive technologies to all women, including women in same-gender relationships, saying it could lead to “liberal eugenics.”
Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, president of the Bishops’ Conference of France, commented on the legislation that France’s National Assembly began debating this week. If passed, the legislation would allow all women, including those who are in same-gender relationships or single, to access state-funded reproductive services like in vitro fertilization and sperm donation. Currently, only partnered heterosexual couples who are married or have lived together for more than two years can access such services. The legislation would also allow birth certificates to read “mother and mother” rather than only “father and mother.”
The archbishop said of the legislation, according to Crux:
” ‘We hear and understand the suffering of those who cannot have children from their union with a person of the opposite sex and of homosexual women who aspire to have children . . . But our societies are making a collective mistake when they pretend to resolve sufferings with medical and juridical techniques, and when they turn medicine intended for caring and curing into a vehicle for demands and frustrations.’ “
De Moulins-Beaufort claimed expanding access to such services was “pointing the way to a liberal eugenics” and that society should not be “surrendering procreation to medical manipulation” and changing from “family relationships to DIY.”
Archbishop Eric Aumonier of Versailles added his opposition to expanding access to reproductive technologies given the “grave transgressions” it would allow that would “place the desire of adults before the welfare of children.” Aumonier urged Catholics to actively campaign against the legislation.
Earlier this summer, Archbishop Pierre d’Ornellas of Rennes made similar statements in his role as head of the Bishops’ Conference of France’s Church and Bioethics Working Group. Novena News reported that d’Ornellas said the legislation was a “slippery slope” and a “radical rupture” from current bioethics law:
“[The bishops’ working group] said opening IVF techniques to single and lesbian women ‘would create inequalities between children depending on whether or not they have a father’.
“The prelates added that the law denies ‘the realities of the body and carnality’ by listing two mothers on the child’s birth certificate in the case of a birth to a lesbian couple . . .
“They also insisted that the legislation opens the door to ‘eugenics’ by allowing women to search for a sperm donor with the physical characteristics they desire for their baby.”
These comments in 2019 follow the French bishops’ eight-page statement “The Dignity of Procreation” released a year ago. Taking up the issue of reproductive technology, the bishops warned against the “legal suppression of the father,” depriving children of two parents, and, again, leading to eugenics.
French President Emmanuel Macron signaled during his 2017 campaign that he supported expanded access, though it has taken until now for the legislation to be put forward. Polling finds a majority of the French population supports such a step, but conservative pushback could be strong, as was the case with the sometimes violent opposition to marriage equality earlier this decade. Demonstrations against the legislation are planned for October 6th.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, September 26, 2019