CAMEROON: Bishops Oppose Medically Assisted Reproduction As “Morally Illicit”

By Opiyo Odiwuor

YAOUNDÉ, AUGUST 23, 2022 (CISA) – “If the use of (these) medically assisted reproduction techniques replaces the marital act as a means of conception, it is morally illicit and does not conform to Gods intent for life,” the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) has said in a declaration against Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) dated August 8.

The declaration signed by the president of NECC, Bishop Andrew Fuanya Nkea of the Catholic Archdiocese of Bamenda comes on the backdrop of what the bishops call a “growing climate of illicitness and abuse of reproductive health and fertility techniques,” legalization, artificialization and unacceptable manipulations in the field of MAR.

The bishops advanced that the declaration is “driven by the fervent desire” to clarify God’s plan for the family and human life in its infancy “in the light of the Gospel and Magisterial Teaching.”

The bishops quoted the Instruction Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions and cautioned that while the desire to reproduce is legitimate and biblically justified, it does not legitimize all means of having a child. However, in the case of recourse of couples suffering from infertility to MAR through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) or to technological manipulations, “a child is no longer a gift from God that is welcomed, but a right that must be obtained, or even produced at all costs.”

“Human life is sacred and inviolate from its conception to its natural end. It deserves unconditional and constant respect,” urged the bishops adding that this concept of human thinking should be put at the centre of biomedical thinking.

“Most of these reproductive methods widely violate human dignity by manipulating the human person, thus raising serious ethical and doctrinal concerns,” they said.

According to the prelates, practices such as freezing of embryos and oocytes scientifically known as cryopreservation deprives human embryos of their maternal reception and development during gestation and exposes them to further damage and handling. Also, pre-implantation diagnosis is inherently illicit because it aims at a qualitative screening, which leads to the destruction of the embryos resulting in a form of early abortions.

“All this manipulation makes procreation relentless, and thus deprives human reproduction of the dignity which is inherent and congenial to it,” they stressed.

In line with the magisterium, the NECC prescribed values such as; “promotion of life and human integrity, recognition of the unity of marriage, promotion of human values of sexuality, respect for life, rejection of artificial insemination and a categorical rejection of the ‘manufacture’ and commercialization of the human embryo.”

The bishops also recommended to the pastors and faithful to “a thorough review of the documents on the Teaching of the Church on the respect of newborn life, in order to better discern medical demands and services, to enlighten God’s people and to act accordingly.”