Wall with hole

Debate over preimplantation genetic diagnosis continues in new year. The position of the Catholic Church is clear: a ban on PGD without exceptions should be enforced. In a guest contribution Dietmar Mieth, professor emeritus of moral theology and ethics at the University of Tubingen, justifies this position.

When you see a bill that builds a wall but leaves a hole in it, the hole is more important than the wall. I am reminded of this by a parliamentary draft on the prohibition of preimplantation diagnostics (PGD) with exemption in the Bundestag.

Takes parliamentary responsibility enough that in PGD treatment, two-thirds of couples go home without a child? The case before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) had this result: one of three couples had a child. How great are the sufferings of the in vitro fertilization procedures at all, how great the sufferings of those who do not achieve the result? Does the media write about it, is it mentioned on TV, even described, is it in the justifications? Should responsibility again be shifted to the individual, or is "desired child treatment" a non-word, because parents are promised more than can be kept??

Those who allow prenatal diagnosis (PND), according to some justifications for exemptions, cannot totally reject PGD. But: first, PND is not planned selection, though selection ex post is not legally prevented. PGD is ex ante planned selection. Secondly, it is said that whoever says A, not illegal abortion, must also say B, PGD. This is not a compelling moral argument. Because the reasoning:
if already A is a not quite perfect hurdle against selection, then one should at least not accept B as well, is here decidedly more morally plausible. Unless one does not really want a seal against selection where it is possible.

Again and again, nature’s wasteful use of embryo life is argued for. But nature bears no responsibility. Volcanoes and tsunamis, which blindly destroy human lives, are not an argument against the protection of life. Of course everyone sees that. For those who find this comparison too thick, consider whether "nature" is his argument, or rather his vote to roll back human life protection from the start.

Time and again, it must be considered: Is a decision against allowing the continuation of individual human life an individual decision? Does it not obviously exceed the right of self-determination, because it is not only about one’s own lifestyle? Is not parliamentary accountability called for precisely at this juncture of transition?

Nor does a theological argument seem moral to me: Human dignity is not given by merely being human, but only with the redemption through Jesus Christ. Thus a theological maximalism, which does not distinguish between human dignity and the Christian dignity of salvation, becomes an ethical minimalism.

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