VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican’s top bioethicist has criticised the genetic screening process a US couple used to conceive a child in order to save their older daughter.
Bishop Elio Sgreccia, who is vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said that apart from the parents’ presumably good intentions in trying to save a child’s life, the process raised serious moral issues.
In a groundbreaking case, Lisa and Jack Nash of Englewood, Colorado, tested embryos created through in-vitro fertilisation for compatibility with the cells of their daughter Molly, 6, who was born with Fanconi anaemia, a fatal, inherited bone marrow deficiency.
Through pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, scientists screened embryonic cells for the disease gene.
Late last year, two of the Nashes’ 15 embryos tested free of the Fanconi gene and proved compatible with Molly’s cells.
Doctors implanted the healthier of the two embryos in Mrs Nash’s uterus, destroying the others, and on August 29, Mrs Nash gave birth to Adam.
Cells taken from Adam’s umbilical cord were infused on September 26 into Molly’s circulation system. Doctors say Molly now has a 90 per cent chance of survival.
In an October 6 interview with Catholic News Service, Bishop Sgreccia said the destruction of embryos containing the Fanconi gene was incompatible with the Church’s position that “these embryos are human individuals”.
“You cannot destroy individuals to cure the sickness of another individual,” he said.
Adam’s birth through in-vitro fertilisation represents the “instrumentalisation of a subject. He was brought into the world only to act as medicine”, said the bishop, criticising the Nashes’ motivation for having Adam as not fully respecting his innate value as a person.