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Pontifical Academy for Life

Judie Brown, president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, offers the following report on the academy's February 27-28 meeting on the moral status of the preimplantation human embryo.

There is no doubt, as Pope Benedict XVI made clear, and as the academics who made presentations at the meeting agree: the human embryo is an individual member of the human race from the instant his life begins. There are no exceptions and there is no defense for the act of killing even one of these human beings.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the academy, told us that such atrocities as the morning after pill which act to "intercept" and then destroy embryonic children must be exposed for what they are. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragon, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, said "It is never justified to discriminate against the human embryo, even before implantation." He said this is why the Vatican document, Donum Vitae, which was issued in 1987, is even more critical today than it was when it was originally promulgated. He reminded all of us that we must reaffirm the teachings of Donum Vitae in our efforts to expose the evils of human cloning and other attacks on the human being.

Speakers were unanimous in their view that prenatal and preimplantation genetic diagnosis had but one goal in mind: to eliminate the suffering by eliminating the person who might suffer. While it is scientifically clear that such testing on the human embryo can itself damage the human embryo, it is equally clear that the goal of such practices, whether damaging or not, is evil.

As one of the speakers pointed out, we must never avoid the suffering of a loved one by eliminating the loved one who might suffer.

One of the most quotable statements made is this: "The Church is not interested in the specific nanosecond at which a human being actually begins; the fact is we protect human beings from their beginning because we do not know the precise moment and thus opt to protect them unequivocally because they are members of the human family." In other words, those who argue that we do not know precisely when a human being begins are using language to disguise the larger goal which is to eliminate human beings who do not measure up or whose existence can serve the needs of science.

As Pope Benedict XVI told us during our audience with him, "In man, in all men and women, whatever their stage or condition of life, there shines a reflection of God's own reality. For this reason, the Magisterium of the Church has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable nature of each human life, from conception to natural end. This moral judgment also holds at the beginning of an embryo's life, even before it is implanted in the mother's womb."