No, “to take nature as a model”, is not the natural law, neither is ratifying “the cruel competition it imposes”. Monsignor Pierre-Antoine Bozo, Bishop of Limoges and member of the Bishops’ Working Group on the laws of bioethics responds to the column entitled Nature and Medically Assisted Reproduction by Luc Ferry, published in Le Figaro on 11 October 2018. He explains what the Church means by “natural law”: natural law does not belong to the Church but is part of a “common heritage“, not a “submission to the physical laws of nature”. Moreover, it is not obvious to all but it “calls for reason and discernment”.
In 2009, the International Theological Commission defined natural law as the capacity “of human beings and human communities to obtain by reason the fundamental norms of just action in conformity with their nature and their dignity”. Thus, the recent document published by the French bishops in relation to their position regarding medically assisted reproduction does not refer to a nature that would itself be normative, but of “ethical discernment imposed by reason”. Without questioning scientific and medical progress, this document challenges the responsibility of the legislator in using these discoveries, and especially their impact on the most frail and most vulnerable in our society. Although the bishops express reservations about medically assisted reproduction, it is not because the technique is new, but “because the implementation itself raises issues: what about excess embryos, donor anonymity, selection techniques and the development of liberal eugenics it inevitably implies? “
Luc Ferry, for his part, opposes “cruel” nature and “everything that humanity has done on a big scale”, which would otherwise be “artificial and unnatural”. Monsignor Bozo nevertheless points out that “researchers are increasingly looking at nature to discover hidden secrets that it could reproduce and use” and wonders about the reality of progress that would be made only by ignoring nature. He also mentions the “worrying consequences of many of our technical achievements related to scientific progress in terms of climate, natural resources and public health”—would they be negligible? Although the laws of nature are not an absolute in themselves, there may be an “ethical message contained in being” that it would be wise to “closely investigate by applying discernment and reason”.
Current plans to initiate medically assisted reproduction reshuffle the natural reality cards such as procreation, pregnancy, paternity or parentage. Can we free ourselves from the global coherence of this whole without incurring any repercussions? Monsignor Bozo sees this as an “ecological issue” facing “dominating, technical scientific claims” and highlights the urgent need for us to “listen to and show respect for nature”.
Le Figaro, Monseigneur Pierre-Antoine Bozo (12/10/2018)