The Vatican this morning issued its long-awaited Dignitas Personae detailing the Catholic Church's stand on several bioethics issues, from in vitro fertilization to cloning to freezing embryos.
There are few surprises, given past Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life, but the document gives full papal authority to those teachings.
Here's what's not allowed:
- in vitro fertilization.
- research in and use of embryonic stem cells.
- post-fertilization birth control methods such as morning after pills, the so-called abortion pill RU-486 (mifepristone) and the inter-uterine device (IUD).
- surrogate motherhood.
- human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic.
- hybrid cloning using animal oocytes (immature female germ cells) to reprogram the nuclei of human somatic cells.
- freezing embryos or oocytes for use in artificial fertilization.
- re-implantation diagnosis of embryos to avoid genetic defects or select for gender or other qualities.
- reduction of implanted embryos to prevent multiple births.
- intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome male fertility problems.
- germ line cell therapy to modify genes transmitted to offspring.
- genetic enhancement for purposes other than medical treatment.
- use of human biological material of illicit origin, such as experimentation on human embryos.
The following procedures are considered morally acceptable:
- promotion of natural fertility including hormone treatment and surgery for endometriosis or obstructed fallopian tubes.
- use of stem cells obtained from adult organisms, umbilical cord blood or fetuses dead by natural causes.
- research into the prevention of sterility.
- somatic gene cell therapy for strictly therapeutic purposes in an individual patient.