Cameroon: Medically Assisted Reproduction Denounced by the Bishops

October 07, 2022

The Cameroon government put in place a law on medically assisted reproduction (MAR), on July 14, 2022. It allows, among other things, anyone “to collect and preserve their gametes or germinal tissues,” in order to be able to carry out MAR later.

In a statement, published on August 8, the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (NECC) denounced the “artificialization and unacceptable manipulations in the field of Medically Assisted Reproduction,” and recalls “the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church which considers as sinful, unacceptable, and illicit medically assisted procreation, and more particularly the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF).”

While expressing their concerns for the populations in the face of technological offers in the biomedical field, the bishops recall that the family and the emerging life are marked with the “seal of sacredness” and deplore the “growing culture of permissiveness and abuse” on medically assisted reproduction and fertility assistance techniques, while denouncing the “economic, technical, and anthropological issues” that result from them.

The Cameroonian bishops declared that most assisted reproduction techniques “violate the dignity of the human person by using the human body as an instrument, posing ‘serious ethical and doctrinal problems.’ Catholic doctrine teaches that there is an intrinsic link between sexual intercourse and procreation.”

It condemns the practice of extracorporeal fertilization or IVF (in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer). “The intervention of assisted reproductive technologies substitutes for the conjugal act as a means of conceiving a child, and thus becomes morally illicit and not in conformity with God’s intention for human life.”

The bishops' declaration “is in contrast to the dominant view that sometimes proposes a ‘fake compassion,’ the one which believes that encouraging abortion is a way of helping women, that providing euthanasia is a dignified act, that ‘producing’ a child is a scientific conquest that delights families, or that manipulating human lives in the laboratory is a pretext for saving others.”

Finally, responding to the desire of sterile couples to have a child, the bishops “urged couples to

‘accept the failure of an irremediable sterility’ and called on them to ‘stick to the only valid human substitution procedure, that of adoption of numerous orphans who need a domestic home for their proper growth.’”

The bishops therefore call for “the categorical refusal of the manufacture and commodification of the human embryo,” the most important issue being the very dignity of the child.