Dutch Christian Democrat ethicist rejects growing embryos for research


Western Europe


Embryo at a gestation of 6 weeks. Photo Wikimedia Commons, lunar caustic

The recently published scientific report of the Dutch Christian Democratic Party (CDA) about growing embryos contradicts the party's stance on embryos in the Program of Principles from 1993.

That is the opinion of medical-ethicist Prof. Theo Boer, which he published in the Dutch daily Nederlands Dagblad, as reported by the Reformatorisch Dagblad.

Boer, CDA member, also spoke at a Christian Democratic gathering on Monday. The report was presented to party leader Huibers and CDA spokesperson Palland.

The report remains reluctant concerning the growth of embryos. However, it does see some possibilities for growing embryos for research on serious hereditary diseases. According to the authors, finding a balance between life as a gift and life as an assignment is essential. The report states that research focused on how genetic diseases can be prevented safely, using DNA modification is permissible under certain conditions.

One of these conditions is that the research remains limited, for example, only to one extra embryo, which was grown in an IVF treatment.

Human life

The report says that embryos are fundamentally worthy of protection. "On the one side, we acknowledge the worthiness of protection of life. But on the other side, we acknowledge that there are other values which sometimes overrule the worthiness of protection; for example, the life of the mother which is endangered", the authors explained at the time.

Whoever considers aborting a fetus to save the mother's life faces a dilemma, Boer says. That is different from sacrificing an embryo for scientific research. "Instead of solving a dilemma, one is created here. Even though he says not to argue that an embryo is already a human being, he points out that growing embryos for research means: creating human life for using it instrumentally only. There is zero chance that the embryo survives. The intention to create is an intention to kill", the medical ethicist says.

If members and the fraction embrace the report, the question arises if Christian Democracy only means taking over stances from other parties with a delay of thirty years. "You do not only leave your own principles, your fellow Christian parties but also the voter who can choose plenty of other parties who want to permit the growth of embryos today rather than tomorrow", Boer argues.



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