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French bioethics law: Upcoming presidential test

Omnes-May 1, 2018-Reading time: 3 minutes

The bill on bioethical issues that President Macron will bring to Parliament in the fall will unveil his model for dialogue. 

Text - José Luis Domingo, Marseille

The so-called "General States of Bioethicsa" are open until June in France. This wide-ranging consultation organized by the National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) aims to "to gather a broad overview of society's views on the issues that concern it". The exchanges will extend over several months and should feed into the next bioethics law expected in Parliament in the fall.

Among the major topics to be discussed and debated (shelters for the disabled, end of life, organ donation, artificial intelligence, neurosciences...), the opening of medically assisted procreation (MAP) to single women and female couples, to which Emmanuel Macron is in favor, will figure prominently in the debates. The bishops have expressed their reservations to some bills included in Macron's campaign.

Bishop Pontier, president of the Bishops' Conference, expressed to the president his concern about the issues discussed. "Should we now allow the law to deprive children of a father? This recognition would produce inequality among children, would open a great risk of commodification of the body and would question the current therapeutic criterion, guarantor of the rejection of the formation of a large market of procreation.". At the same time it affirmed the duty of vigilance for the defense of the weakest, ".from the embryo to the newborn, from the handicapped to the paralyzed, from the elderly to the dependent in all things. We cannot leave anyone alone".. It also excluded the legitimization of hopelessness: "We cannot be content with the loneliness or abandonment of those who see death as an enviable way out.".

The Church and ethical issues

While Emmanuel Macron, unlike the secularist groups, considers that the State should not engage in dialogue considering that it is always right, and imposing itself by force on civil society, in particular on religious society, he did not fail to consider the attitude of the Church on ethical issues. This was perhaps the weak point of the speech at the Bernadirnos. In his opinion, in this area, the word of the Church should be "the Church's word".questioner" and not "injunction".

This phrase has been understood as a way of keeping the Church at a certain distance, defending its vision and the action of its government carried out in the name of a "...".realistic humanism"The company has to adapt to society. "Beware that realism does not turn into fatalism."Martin Choutet of the Association for Friendship (APA) warns, fearing a complacent attitude towards social aberrations.

"He flattered his audience with a speech of great quality and beautiful references, but the basic message was: 'don't give me lessons, in any case I will decide in the end.'", analyzes Nicolas Sevillia, secretary general of the Jérôme-Lejeune Foundation. This skepticism seems to be shared by many Catholics, especially on social networks, worried that the presidential process is just a communication operation.

Of course, it is well understood that statements should not preclude dialogue and questions. But it is also the mission of the Church and of Catholics to remember that there are "red lines" in ethics, fundamental ethical reference points that cannot be questioned or negotiated. Otherwise, these "dams of humanity"will weaken.

When the chairman of the National Advisory Council on Ethics explains that "does not know what is right or wrong" or that "everything is relative"It is a duty to clearly affirm and defend these benchmarks that protect the most fragile or the smallest. It could also be said to Emmanuel Macron that France does the same when it defends human rights in the world. There are rights that are not questioned. France's word is then not "questioning" but "urging". It is its strength and its duty. It is also the duty of the Church.

A procreation market?

In order to warn of the dangers of the emergence of a procreation market in France, which through the acceptance of PMA would open the doors to gestational surrogacy, Alliance Vita opened a "fake" shopping center on April 17 in a luxurious neighborhood of Paris. On the front of the store, one could read: "Rent - Womb - Buy" or "Custom Conception". Pushing open the door, you'd think you were entering a fashion store. Nothing of the sort. Inside, on the displays, we discover a score of baby-dolls labeled with bar codes. To their left, models of pregnant women emerge from cardboard boxes marked "GPA". To their right, three mannequins of men have their heads covered with cardboard, each with a letter: "P", "M" and "A".

Tugdual Derville, general delegate of the association, explains: "We expose in the store, with supporting evidence, the full range of an unbridled procreation market that we want to avoid.". He assures us: "It is not a fantasy, but a reality that is already present and in full expansion.". And he warns the president: "This is the last call before the general mobilization.!".

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