In the light of the Government's announcement of a new Abortion Bill, the Anglican Church reaffirms its position that both the rights and needs of women, and the rights and needs of the unborn, require protection.
The Church welcomes a non-gestational approach. This accords with the Church's opposition to any arbitrary division which would make early abortion available on demand. The Church's fundamental position is that "abortion is always the taking of human life and, in our view, should never be done except for serious therapeutic reasons". However, the Church's Abortion report affirms that:
-an upper limit should be established at which "there is no reasonable prospect of viability"
- there should be a waiting period during which time counselling to women should be made available
- other alternatives to abortion explored including "social and financial supports to meet the needs of the woman, in housing accommodation, child care, employment, retraining, welfare benefits, and income support, as well as consideration of adoption of the baby expected."
The Church further affirms that there should be a conscience clause, so that "the conscientious right of health care personnel to refrain from participating in abortion procedures be guaranteed."
The Church also is "opposed in principle" to "anticipated genetic defect in the foetus as automatic grounds for abortion", because as Christians we are "called to be the voice of the voiceless and powerless (and) must speak out when those different from or less able than the norm are to be denied the full rights accorded their fellow humans".
The Church's Abortion Report also recommends legislation to "ban commercial transactions in human genetic material"; or any possibility of deliberate abortion for purposes of "foetal cell farming" for human transplants, and welcomes the recent announcement of a Royal Commission on reproductive techniques "as a vehicle to examine these concerns and develop legislative measures".
The Anglican Church sees abortion as a public justice issue, challenging Canadians to build a society that affirms human life, which values children and welcomes a new generation, and which provides legal and social protection for women caught in the trauma of problem pregnancies. Such extensive social legislation, to reduce conditions which make the choice of abortion more likely, would include:
- programs and education to combat violence against women
- more affordable housing
- pay equity for women
- a guaranteed annual income, and other financial measures
- universally accessible, publicly funded day care
- an intensified national program to collect child support payments from delinquent fathers
- better educational programs about sexuality and contraception in schools
The Church does not see abortion as simply a "woman's issue" but rather a community issue, which takes place on the battleground of women's bodies. Concerned that women are frequently forced to choose between marginalization and poverty or abortion, the Church believes that in many circumstances women are not "free" to choose to bear their children and so, because society fails to provide supportive structures, "abortion has become a means of `restructuring the woman' by emptying the womb". Many Canadian women who choose not to bear their child make their decision out of alienation and hopelessness. "True choice must involve alternatives to despair" the Report concludes.
Abortion In a New Perspective: Report of the Task Force on Abortion, is available from: The Anglican Book Centre, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2J6
For further information contact: The Reverend Michael Ingham, Principal Secretary to the Primate, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario, (416) 924-9192; Mrs. Diane Marshall (Family therapist, Report co-author) (416) 487-3613; Mrs. Phyllis Creighton (Research historian, Report co-author) (416) 978-2245
"Task Force on Human Life, The Anglican Church of Canada". -- t.-p.
Includes bibliographic references.
"This report has been prepared through the work of the Task Force on Human Life. The Task Force was established in January 1972, at the request of the February 1971 General Synod, to study ethical issues being posed by medicine and the life sciences. In its interim report to General Synod Quebec 1975, the Task Force noted that it had begun a study of A.I.D. It sought permission then to write a full report .... General Synod authorized it to complete its work and to submit the report to the National Executive Council for subsequent circulation (R 38). It is with these purposes in view, and in response to General Synod's resolution, that this study has been written". -- Preface.
Contents: Preface -- Foreword / Edward Scott, Primate -- The Problem -- Ethical Issues -- Medical Aspects -- Legal Concerns -- Other Social Policy Issues -- Embryo Transfer -- Task Force Conclusions -- Appendix. -- Notes.
"Members of the Task Force on Human Life, for this study, 1973-77" chaired by Canon Paul Chadwick, listed on pp. vii-ix.
1. To write to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Federal Minister of Health to encourage the Government to prohibit the cloning of whole human beings.
2. To write to the Prime Minister of Canada and the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs to ask that they use all means possible to ensure that international trade agreements do not become a means of the dissemination of cloning of human beings.
3. To draw the attention of the Anglican Communion's United Nations Office to these initiatives; and
That General Synod request the House of Bishops to bring these concerns regarding the cloning of human beings to the Lambeth Conference and ask that body to establish an international coalition to examine the implications of the potential international spread of cloning and other human reproductive and genetic technologies.
Moved by: Mr. P. Bennett
Seconded by: Ms. L. Zimmer
That the words "to continue the current moratorium" be inserted into item #1 after the word "government". DEFEATED
The original motion was then put and- CARRIED Act 50
Abstentions were noted from Chancellor David Wright, Captain Baxter Park, Captain Todd Meaker, Mr. Bryan Campbell and Canon Andrew Gates.
November 2, 1993 -- Canada urgently needs to address the ethics of reproductive technologies and related experimentation, a new report from the Anglican Church of Canada recommends. The report urges the creation of a regulatory agency to oversee practice and experimentation related to assisted reproductive technologies. It also says there should be a registry of all Canadian in-vitro fertilization clinics.
The "Report on the Disposition of Frozen Embryos" addresses the ethics and implications of scientific research on "excess embryos" now routinely produced in the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process. Embryos created in the laboratory by mixing eggs and sperm can be frozen and then implanted in the womb at a later date.
The Anglican Church's National Executive Council is expected to discuss the Report on November 5 . Meanwhile, the Anglican Church and others await the report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies to be presented to the Privy Council on November 15, after 4 years of study.
Last week's news story about a human embryo cloning experiment makes the discussion of these reports particularly timely. A current issue of "Science" magazine includes a description of the experiment, conducted by Dr. Jerry Hall of George Washington University Medical Center, in which single human embryos (obtained in the course of IVF procedures) were split into duplicate embryos with identical sets of genes.
The experiment raises the spectre of couples deciding to have a "twin" after they've determined the nature of the first child, or for organ or tissue transplants needed by the first child. In an interview with CBC Radio, Dr. Hall said he felt it was necessary to "let the guidelines and ethics catch up a little bit" with what is already possible in the laboratory.
The Anglican Church report was prepared for the church's doctrine and worship committee by Phyllis Creighton, a historian who has participated in Anglican ethics task forces for more than 20 years. In the report, she warns against treating embryos as objects for others' benefit: "To create an embryo solely for adult consumption is to deny it the intrinsic value due a human life and accord it only the instrumental value befitting things", an approach she calls "morally repugnant".
Creighton takes issue with Bernard Dickens, a well-known ethicist at the University of Toronto's Centre for Bioethics, who states the view that "planned wastage" of embryos through experimentation raises no legal questions, if the gamete donors consent, and is ethically acceptable if the purpose of the experimentation is for "the perceived benefit and health of others".
The report calls for legislative bars to the commercialization of gametes and embryos and any experimentation that makes human life a means to an end.
The report does not shut the door absolutely on using embryos (created in IVF) for the study or diagnosis of a severe disease, if a case can be made in the name of compassion. But such research also "raises a host of broader concerns, especially for the church as a community dedicated to justice and compassion."
"Will funding for research, treatment, or support for the living who suffer such diseases dwindle, and society become even less tolerant of them ?" the report asks. "Will women be obliged to undergo genetic analysis ... ?"
Although the question of what to do with frozen embryos implies the church's acceptance of IVF in principle, the report challenges the use of IVF as a way of dealing with infertility. Creighton cites critics like Varda Burstyn who points out that IVF is not successful by basic medical or scientific standards. There is no standardized system of measurement by which to assess IVF programs, but because of the glowing personal accounts publicized by the media, "most couples seeking IVF have unrealistic hopes doomed to bitter disappointment." Studies cited in the report suggest that, despite the enormous costs associated with IVF, success rates are extremely low and there is a high incidence of health problems among children born through IVF.
The report recommends that a register of all IVF clinics in Canada be established in order to gather consistent data about clinical practices and results. In addition, the report recommends the creation of a regulatory agency, with a lay and professional board and access to IVF registry information to monitor IVF practice and related experimentation.
"Created free, in the divine image, we have been given special responsibility for the created order. Intervention in nature is part of our very human nature," the report says. But it warns, "Assuming ultimate power to reshape the roots of our being is arrogance, not wisdom, for humankind .... We need moral imagination, and soberness that begins in awe."
For further information, contact: Doug Tindal, Director of Communications, 416-924-9199 ext. 286 [or] Phyllis Creighton, 416-481-7647
"This brief article will look at some of the reproductive technologies and practices now in use on women's bodies, and discuss the kinds of issues they raise for society generally, and women in particular. It will also include suggestions for immediate government action to prevent the continued normalization of some of the more contentious practices, such as sex selection and commercial surrogacy. Finally, it will offer some personal insights into the nature of the challenges posed by these powerful technologies, whose capacity for good is equalled, if not surpassed, by their potential for tremendous discrimination and abuse". -- p. 5.
Contents divided into sections: Reproductive Technologies: Of What Do We Speak ? -- The Genesis of Reproductive Technologies -- Superovulation and Egg Harvesting -- Cloning -- Genetic Engineering -- Somatic Versus Germ-Line Genetic Manipulation -- Reproductive Technologies and Public Policy -- Reproductive Technologies and Women -- Taking Responsibility for Technology -- Glossary.
"This compact and provocative book is the work of an extraordinary lawyer and political activist. `Tough Choices' is unique in providing a comprehensive and compelling overview of the complex issues that are inextricably part of the practice of medicine today. McTeer brings three key themes to light: the power of science and technology to enhance our future; the imperative to be informed about the possibilities and potential dangers opened up by science and technology; and the public's collective responsibility to participate in an informed way to ensure that humane rules and restrictions are created to govern the use of these technologies" -- Foreword, p. viii.
Contents divided into three main parts: Conception -- Commercialization -- Consent.
Contents: Foreword / Senator Wilbert J. Keon, OC, MD, FRSC -- Acknowledgements -- Introduction -- Part One: Conception -- 1. Reproductive Technologies: Challenging for Regulation -- 2. Issues of Legitimacy and Inheritance -- 3. Federal Initiatives and Constitutional Jurisdiction -- 4. Embryos: The New Frontier of Human Research -- Part Two: Commercialization -- 5. Knowing Ourselves, Protecting Our Rights -- 6. Biotechnology: Looking to the Future -- 7. The Commercialization of Life -- Part Three: Consent -- 8. Keeping Control -- 9. Organ and Tissue Donation: An Urgent Need -- 10. A Right to Die ?: Assisted Suicide -- 11. Euthanasia -- Conclusion: Some Final Thoughts -- Glossary -- Notes -- Further Reading and Resources -- Selected Bibliography -- Selected Table of Statutes -- Index.