No change in the law on research on the embryo… yet

Publié le : 29 March 2013

 In the night of Thursday 28 to Friday 29 March, the bill authorising research on the embryo and embryonic stem cells "was not passed, infuriating radical MPs who walked out of the parliament." This bill had been submitted by the Radical Left Party (PRG) in the framework of a ‘parliamentary niche’, which is "a day reserved for an opposition or minority parliamentary group to study bills." Recently, several MPs had protested against its examination "on the sly." Philippe Gosselin, UMP member, protested "if this is a commitment made by François Hollande, let the government sponsor the bill!" So the examination of this bill had been pushed back several weeks because "either the bill will be adopted by another parliamentary group, by the government, or put on the agenda of the Assembly when the time permits.

The opposition MPs were determined not to let this important reform of the bioethics law go through and thousands of citizens are equally opposed to it. Via the campaign "Do you think that’s right?", the Fondation Jérôme Lejeune has gathered over 52,000 signatures for its petition. 
In an article, the daily Le Monde publishes comments made by parents on the "fate of their frozen embryos.". The parents of these embryos sometimes find themselves at a loss when they no longer wish to have children and have to say what they wish to be done with their "supernumerary" embryos. In the course of IVF, several embryos are created, five on average, but only "one or two are implanted in the uterus of the future mother, to limit the risks of a multiple pregnancy," while the others are frozen. On 31 December 2010 "171,417 human embryos were preserved in the liquid nitrogen tanks of the Cecos Centres for the Study and Conservation of Human Ova and Sperm," in other words, frozen. Of these, 64% still involve a parental project. But when the couple separates or no longer wants to procreate, the law stipulates that they can decide to no longer preserve them, or make them available to another couple or to research. But the answer to this question is not easy, and "every year couples are asked for an answer by the Cecos centres." Speaking on this subject, Karen Dupuis, 37, explains: "each year, this letter causes an argument between my husband and me." The article explains that "the idea of giving the embryos to research frightens them." Mrs Fleury points out: "nobody told us about any specific project, so it was worrying – we remembered stories of researchers playing at being god." Frédérique, 45, explains: "it was very difficult for me to take a decision. I imagined they were going to cut them up and dissect them. But they are not objects." Furthermore, there is also "the fear of having a child ‘out there somewhere’ [which] comes to those who refuse the donation." Mme Dupuis adds: "I work in a very public place, so I would always be afraid of seeing him/her in front of me. I would also wonder if they were well received.
For Yolaine, 39, and her husband, the solution they found for their single supernumerary embryo was "to have a third child". She explains: "No other choice suited us. I did not want to abandon it, it was like having a child waiting in suspense."

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