Swiss Church official deplores vote allowing genetic testing of embryos

Swiss Catholic Church officials deplored the approval by voters of a modification to the country’s in vitro fertilization law that would permit genetic testing of embryos, allowing imperfect human embryos to be discarded. The president of the Swiss bishops’ conference called the revision in voting June 5 “a step backwards.” “It jeopardizes the full protection of human life,” Bishop Charles Morerod of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg said in a statement. The measure will allow embryos to be stored and screened for genetic defects before implantation. It was approved by 62.4 percent of voters June 5. Switzerland, with about 44 percent of its 7.1 million citizens identifying as Catholic, is the last European country to approve the practice. Experts said genetic testing would help eliminate chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, and involve the storing of 12 embryos for each treatment cycle. The vote defied warnings by the bishops’ conference in April that the measure raised “serious ethical problems” by arbitrarily increasing the number of “stored embryos,” as well as by selecting “who deserves to live” and stigmatizing those already living with disabilities.

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