Spanish Bishops want spare embryos unfrozen
The Spanish Episcopal Conference's Executive Committee has suggested thawing surplus human embryos being held in artificial fertility clinics.
The Committee was reacting to a proposed law that would allow parents to authorise the handing over of embryos over five years old for the purposes of experimentation.
Official figures put the number of spare embryo at 35,000 - though some sources believe it is more than 200,000.
The Bishops argue that "possible research carried out on human embryos, which causes harm or death" would be morally untenable. They also insist that the thawing process itself cannot be allowed to be the direct cause of death. They make a distinction between the direct "killing" of the embryo and the "lesser evil" of allowing it to die "in peace".
They dismiss use of the term "pre-embryo" as a "linguistic fiction" and stress the embryo's status as a human person.
"It is not a thing or a mere aggregate of living cells, but the first stage of the existence of a human being."
The Bishops' note does not address the question of whether the embryos should be offered for adoption, as some Spanish organisations have suggested to the government.
Conferencia Episcopal Espaņola
31 Jul 2003