(Reuters) - The Vatican on Friday spelled out Roman Catholic moral teaching on a wide variety of scientific and medical procedures dealing with human reproduction.
Catholic teaching on bioethics is based on the principle of unconditional respect for human life from conception to natural death and for the transmission of such life through sexual intercourse by married couples only.
The document therefore condemned virtually all forms of artificial fertilization and genetic engineering and urged Catholics to oppose them in almost all cases.
The document declared the following procedures morally unacceptable: — in vitro fertilization.
— research in and use of embryonic stem cells.
— post-fertilization birth control methods such as morning after pills, the so-called abortion pill RU-486 (mifepristone) and the inter-uterine device (IUD).
— surrogate motherhood.
— human cloning, both reproductive and therapeutic.
— hybrid cloning using animal oocytes (immature female germ cells) to reprogram the nuclei of human somatic cells.
— freezing embryos or oocytes for use in artificial fertilization.
— pre-implantation diagnosis of embryos to avoid genetic defects or select for gender or other qualities.
— reduction of implanted embryos to prevent multiple births.
— intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to overcome male fertility problems.
— germ line cell therapy to modify genes transmitted to offspring.
— genetic enhancement for purposes other than medical treatment.
— use of human biological material of illicit origin, such as experimentation on human embryos.
The document declared the following procedures morally acceptable:
— promotion of natural fertility including hormone treatment and surgery for endometriosis or obstructed fallopian tubes.
— use of stem cells obtained from adult organisms, umbilical cord blood or fetuses dead by natural causes.
— research into the prevention of sterility.
— somatic gene cell therapy for strictly therapeutic purposes in an individual patient.