In a new condemnation, the Vatican said last week that the practice of eliminating unwanted embryos resulting from artificial procreation was tantamount to abortion.
    Such a practice ``amounts to the direct and voluntary elimination of an innocent human being,'' said a statement by the Pontifical Council for the Family, quoting Pope John Paul II.
    Earlier this month, an Italian woman announced she was expecting octuplets. It was the third multiple pregnancy resulting from fertility drugs in Italy this year.
    In such cases, doctors say that aborting one or more of the fetuses may enhance the remaining fetuses chances of survival to birth.
    ``The moral restriction remains even when continuing the pregnancy entails a life or health risk for either the mother or the other babies,'' said the Vatican council, drawing on an encyclical by the pope.
    The Vatican statement also said that doctors using techniques of artificial reproduction should be held responsible for ``endangering the life of both the mother and the children.''
Irish Independent
17 July 00

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