Ecumenical News International

EKD: British genetic experiments are incompatible with human dignity

February 03, 2016

Hanover (epd). The Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has called the genetic experiments permitted in the United Kingdom "incompatible with the principle of human dignity". This is a new dimension in intervening in human life, an EKD spokesperson told the Protestant press agency (epd) in Hanover on 2 February. The EKD's position is that the dignity of human life is only protected and secured when all possibility of manipulation is excluded.

The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on 1 February approved a request for a research permit by the Francis Crick Institute in London. Accordingly, scientists can now experiment with healthy human embryos in order to find ways of treating infertility and the causes of miscarriages.

Every human embryo has inviolable creaturely dignity

The EKD has so far resolutely opposed any softening of the ban on embryonic stem cell research and was critical of the amendment to German stem cell legislation in 2008. The current new possibilities go "far beyond the issues discussed in 2008", the spokesperson said.

"They enable the direct, deliberate manipulation of human embryos that are created solely for manipulation purposes and destroyed after the experiments," the EKD criticises. It sees the inviolable creaturely dignity of every single human embryo as here being subordinated to technical intervention in human life. These experiments do not comply with German law.
The EKD is in favour of sticking to current legislation in Germany and, instead of experimenting with embryos or embryonic stem cells, of expanding research on adult stem cells. In its view, there is a gulf in medical research between what is technically possible and what is morally responsible. And it will continue to grow. The EKD is convinced that resultant questions relating to scientific and research ethics call for intensive reflection among the researchers themselves and likewise a broad-based discussion in society at large.

Human life is a gift of God

The 1989 Joint Declaration of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany and the Catholic Bishops Conference "God loves all that lives. Challenges and tasks for the protection of life" appraises embryo protection from the viewpoint of Christian ethics in terms that have lost nothing of their relevance: "That human life is God's gift does not exclude human action in taking responsibility for life and for shaping it. But this can be done only with respect for the inalienable dignity which every person possesses, a value which cannot be surrendered, from life's start to its end (§VI, 2)."



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