12 May 2016
How robust is the Catholic case against abortion and embryo experimentation?
There is growing pressure from the scientific community in Britain for the law to be relaxed regarding experimentation on human embryos. This follows the news that scientists have successfully kept alive a fertilised embryo in the laboratory up to the 14-day limit British law allows. Some would like the research to be taken a stage further. Some emphatically would not.
Among the voices we can expect to hear will be that of the Catholic Church. This is a good moment to ask, therefore, how robust is the Catholic case, not only against embryo experimentation but in the whole field of abortion? If it has not been thought through clearly enough, its chances of winning the public debate are virtually nil.
Take the human status of the early embryo. The Church declares that human life begins at the moment of conception; hence the Commandment “Thou shalt not kill” applies from that time onwards. But the definitive Catholic position emerged only relatively recently, in Pope John Paul II’s papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae in 1995.
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