French National Federation of Freethought issues Declaration on Bioethics

  • Date / 17 December 2009

On October 10, 2009, the French National Federation of the Free Thought (FNLP, an IHEU Member Organization) organized a colloquium on the review of the law passed on August 6, 2004 concerning bioethics. At the end of this colloquium, and without renouncing to carry on the reflection of today’s free and fruitful debate, the FNLP insists on recalling that no special morality should curb or guide scientific research towards any other goa but knowledge and the improvement of the conditions of humankind. The Free Thought also considers that Law, as it is the expression of general will, should neither be submitted to religious or moral precepts pertaining to particular communalities, nor subordinated to economic and strictly utilitarian requirements on a business level. Equal for all, the Law must protect each individual and provide general progress. In a Republic ruled by Reason and based on secularism, religions should not be allowed to impose their dogmas to scientists or lawmakers, directly or through institutions which are not elected by universal suffrage and yet are supposed to represent civil society.

That is why FNLP calls upon the representatives of the nation so as to convince them of substantially reviewing the August 6, 2004 law concerning bioethics on four major points, at least.

Firstly, taking into account a recent ruling by the Cassation Court, FNLP demands that the criteria defined by the World Health Organization concerning the viable foetus be introduced in the Civil Code so as to leave no possibility of implicitly establishing a judicial status for the human embryo, which the Roman Catholic Church claims, notably. That could lead to calling into question the right to abortion and would make any research on embryo stem cells impossible.

Secondly, FNLP demands the lifting of the general ban, with the too narrowly restricted derogations, on the research on the human embryo, whether in vivo or in vitro. It believes that this research should be completely free and placed under the sole peerage of the scientific community. Taking into account foreign regulations currently implemented in different developed countries and the financing of research programs on the human embryo by federal funds in the USA since the beginning of 2009, the very future of the progress of biology and medical research in France is at stake

Thirdly, FNLP demands that the scope of antenatal or preimplantatory diagnosis be enhanced significantly. It should not be restricted to the detection of potential incurable or particularly serious diseases justifying abortion or even forms of hereditary cancer, as it is recommended by the biomedical agency. Antenatal or preimplantatory diagnosis should become a precocious help for diagnosis of a large scope of genetic disorders likely to be cured through genetic therapies when they are sufficiently reliable for the mother as well as the unborn child.

Finally, taking into account the basic difference between sexuality and procreation and the questioning of the traditional family pattern de facto through the multiplication of single lifestyles, FNLP demands the benefits of medically assisted procreation techniques be available to a majority of people. Those techniques should not be simply restricted to solve infertility problems for heterosexual couples and become a means of procreation as long as it is part of a parental project. Those techniques should always be submitted to the intangible principles of anonymity of organ donation and free of charge. In this respect, in vitro fertilization with a sperm donor and an oocyte donor should be legalized whenever there is no other solution. In the same manner, gestation for another person should be made legal as long as there are measures to prohibit and suppress any sordid human trafficking and, prior to all, provided that this process is made in the unborn child’s interest. Under those two conditions, it takes the dimension of an exceptional humanitarian gesture.

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