Working Paper No. 13-16:
Catholic Teaching and the Law Concerning the New Reproductive Technologies

Author(s):

Helen Alvaré

Date Posted: February 2013

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Abstract:

Catholic Church teaching has much to say on matters pertaining to New Reproductive Technologies (“NRTs”). In light of Church doctrine, it is possible to evaluate specific aspects of NRTs from the standpoint of whether a technology serves human values by ordering itself to the nature of the human person and the truth of human sexual intercourse. Based on this type of evaluation, the Church takes the position that NRTs pose threats to the dignity of the human person and the institution of marriage and therefore supports legal bans on certain techniques. While some secular voices have expressed concerns similar to those expressed by the Church, the gulf between the Church’s policy recommendations and existing law remains vast because those who support or tolerate continued legal use of NRTs rely on a different set of premises. To help bridge the gulf, this article sets forth the Church’s fundamental teachings, applies those teachings to NRTs, summarizes the Church’s legislative recommendations regarding NRTs, identifies the different premises on either side of the debate, and offers possible reasons why the Church lacks influence in this field.