On Thursday, March 8, 2018 Alliance VITA had a long interview with the French National Ethics Consultative Committee: the “CCNE” as part of the National Bioethics Conferences.
These hearings are part of a larger program established by the “CCNE” including public debates, internet contributions via their website www.etatsgenerauxdelabioethique.fr, a citizens’ committee composed of individuals selected by a polling institute; contributions from ethical committees from national establishments such as the medical research unit: “INSERM”, the National Center for Scientific Research: “CNRS”, and both the Academies of Medicine and Sciences. These interviews by the National Ethics Committee will not be held uniquely for associations, but also for focus groups, learned societies, religious organizations and health professionals.
The CCNE will summarize these interviews and send them by June 4th to the OPCEST and to the government. The CCNE will give their own conclusions in July 2018 on a number of issues considered during the National Bioethical Conferences.
After their meeting with the CCNE President, Professor Delfraissy, the three Alliance VITA representatives, Tugdual Derville, General Delegate, Caroline Roux, Deputy General Manager and Head of Listening Services, and Blanche Streb, Director of Training and Research, spoke in this order before a CCNE delegation of 8 members, on the main issues for the National Bioethical Conferences.
Based on their experience in listening services (SOS Baby and SOS End-of- Life), the Alliance VITA representatives requested that priority be given to infertility issues (causes, prevention and genuine therapy) and handicap issues to help accommodating those with disabilities. They called for an ethical reaction to fight against eugenics, researches which destroy human embryos, interventions on embryos’ genomes (especially the “3-parent IVF”, and using CRISPR-Cas9 on embryos) resulting in genetically-modified human beings. They also requested protection for the child who is the most vulnerable in the so-called “ART for everybody” slogan; emphasizing the slippery slope leading to procreation and even surrogacy just for convenience purposes.
More generally, in view of some inviolable principles, Alliance VITA criticized the unceasing reconsideration of ethical boundaries which had previously been voted by law. Accompaniment for those at the end-of-life, and issues related to artificial intelligence were also discussed.
After responding to CCNE’s questions, Alliance VITA ultimately cautioned of the inherent risk in passing new bioethical laws. France could become a global or state-controlled reproductive marketplace. If ART is no longer performed only for therapeutic reasons, the current healthcare model, based on the non-merchandisation of the body and impartiality for users, would be threatened. If ART becomes a business, whereby the rich “benefit”, it would be the beginning of inequality for the French population of today, and for children of tomorrow, because the law would no longer be able to defend the weak against the desires of the strong.