The constitutional amendment reaches beyond the original purpose, namely to induce a pregnancy by immediate implantation of the embryo in the womb of the mother. In the applicable constitutional article the action addresses the mother, the woman. In the planned article a change of addresses takes place: The formulation is newly addressed towards the biomedical procedure “medically-assisted reproduction”. The mother, the woman does not even occur any longer.
The legislator could have formulated “than are necessary for her medically-assisted reproduction”. These two missing words show that it is about producing supernumerary embryos and it might even be about further interests.
The Constitution does not clarify what is meant by “medically assisted reproduction”. The legislator might alternately have formulated “than are necessary for achieving pregnancy.”
With this wide formulation, the decision concerning the number of embryos to be produced is left to reproductive medicine, respectively to the Reproductive Medicine Act. It would even open the way to permit further conceivable reproductive processes in future, solely via amendments at the legislative level.
By the constitutional amendment, the selection of embryos with “wanted” and the rejection of embryos with “not wanted” genetic material is possible. The first one would be implanted, others would be destroyed and countless would be left to an uncertain fate by cryopreservation.
The constitutional amendment undermines the Protection given by the Constitution (BV Art 119 para 1): “The human being is protected against the misuse by reproductive medicine and gene technology”, since it is a contradiction in itself.
However, the legal system as well as medicine should aim at healing ill human beings including ill embryos and not at their elimination. Only such a legal system allows to use the limited human knowledge at the best, that is to help man to lead fulfilling lives.
The new possibility to develop as many embryos as necessary for medically assisted reproduction would lead to a fundamental change in dealing with the human life in its origin. The constitutional amendment allows the production of supernumerary embryos without limits! And these “might be” selected, freezed, supplied for research. And: the genome of all those tested would be known.
This amendment of the constitution is a paradigm shift and throws the gates to eugenics wide open! Human life must not be distinguished as a life worth living and an unworthy life. Where shall the limits be and who will decide about them?
We as voters are called upon to determinedly reject the delusion that man could plan a society without handicaps and illnesses – which is the ideology of eugenics. Such an attitude violates the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life. It’s origin is the ideology of eugenics.
Fact and crucial point is that there are exponents in our country, as well, who are campaigning for medically assisted reproduction without limits and pursue this target with salami tactics. These exponents have indeed “won” a first goal in Parliament with the immense extension of the Reproductive Medicine Act. The adopted expansion surpasses by far the practice in our neighbouring countries and has even not been proposed by the majority of the responsible commission’s members, the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics. In Parliament Federal Councillor Berset even still warned against the possibility of eugenic selection. In the Swiss National Council he said: “(…) because as a consequence of this significant extension arises the question of selection, – and by the screening – the question of a certain tendency to eugenic selection.”1
In the Swiss Council of States: “So this is about an active choice, a selection which in fact allows us to use the term ‘eugenics’, as Mr Bieri reminded us; we cannot easily dismiss this.”2
An expansion of the scope of application is technically possible. There is great danger that in future everything that is technically possible is likely to be applied, initially probably step by step. The necessary legislative changes could be enforced at the parliamentary level. To initiate a referendum with every change coming by means of such salami tactics, might indeed be tiring.
Professor Maio, medical ethicist, in his textbook “Ethics in Medicine” warned explicitly against this step – which our parliament already has carried out.
Further liberalisation measures are subject of the public debate, even now. Thus, the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics already declared itself in favour of egg donation by its majority, embryo donation, surrogate motherhood or suspension of the maximum number of embryos allowed to develop. Even a request for the creation of “saviour siblings” was discussed in Parliament, but did not receive the support of a majority this time. It is merely a matter of time that this request will be repeated after a possible approval of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis PGD.
Looking abroad shows what else is possible: In USA and Great Britain the production of designer-babies is possible: Selection of sperms and eggs according to sex, hair and eye colour or as well as specific character traits and physical abilities. A successful carrier by “social egg freezing” is promised to women. Genetic tests are unrestrictedly available for PGD. Recently the first “three-parents-baby” was born in Great Britain.
Last week was published that Chinese researchers modified a gene in the genetic material of human embryos. A procedure which is forbidden in Switzerland at constitutional level and creates the risk of dangerous mutations. How long will it take in Switzerland until the existing limits set by human rights will be exceeded?
Commercial interests of pharmaceutical industry, stem cell researchers, manufacturers of genetic tests and institutions for medically assisted reproduction cannot be denied.
Such a law serves those sick brains who plead for genetic improvement of children with the argument to do “just the best for the offspring”.3 •
1 “Amtliches Bulletin” (Official Bulletin), National Council, 3.6.2014, page 29
2 “Amtliches Bulletin” (Official Bulletin), Council of States, 8.9.2014, page 10
3 “Nur das Beste für den Nachwuchs”, Markus Hofmann, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 17 April 2015
Via homepage of the national committee “No-to-PGD”, www.nein-zur-pid.ch, you can order flyers and posters or join one of the cantonal committees or the doctors committee “No-to-PGD”.
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