Kick-Off for our 2019 Bioethics Conference: « What is the Value of Human Life? »

On January 14, Alliance Vita kicked off its 2019 bioethics conference. As in the previous years, the conference will be held on four successive Monday evenings. The theme for the first evening was “What is the Value of Human Life?” In 152 cities throughout France and abroad, 8000 individuals took part simultaneously in this bioethics video-conference. This year, registrations have reached a peak for this innovative event in France. Alliance VITA’s President, François-Xavier Pérès set the tone at the opening evening by declaring: “Alliance VITA’s objective is not to grieve over the situation, and say ‘NO’ to all changes, but rather to say ‘YES’ to the extraordinary value of life, and create awareness by warning, supporting and comforting.” Adeline le Gouvello, lawyer and member of “Jurists for Children” and of the Institute for the Family and the Nation reiterated one of the fundamental principles of French law: the human body cannot be sold. She emphasizes that this principle is currently threatened: “Allowing human bodies to be marketed: allowing the vulnerable to be made available for the strong, allowing the poor to be made available for the rich”. Alliance VITA’s Director of Training, Blanche Streb, suggested that we consider how assisted reproductive techniques (ART) are becoming more and more artificial, with the temptation to manufacture human lives regardless of the cost. She emphasized that human life does not have a price tag, due to its innate dignity, and that a person’s dignity includes the aspects of conception and pregnancy. Author of “Dystopia: the World of Designer Babies”, Blanche Streb concluded with this powerful invitation “More than offering life to a child, we offer him HIS own life, which demands our courageous involvement, not as “owners ” of life, but as people serving “life”. Our moderator, Priscille de Lassus then interviewed guest speakers Bertrand and Gaëlle Lionel-Marie, (National Bioethics Officers for the French Catholic Family Association), who have been married for 23 years and who cope with the issue of infertility. Then the Bioethics Decoder, focused on « The human price of surrogacy », with Caroline Roux. She described the consequences of this practice, which has made headlines in these past few years. Poor women in Asia, Eastern Europe but also in the USA are being exploited by commercial agencies that have a booming business. She explained that even if a woman offers to become a surrogate “gratuitously”, such as for a loved one, a sister, a friend, a mother…it is still a source of emotional pressure and confused parental relationships. Valérie Boulanger, in charge of our information and listening service SOS Bébé, initiated the first session of « humanitarian VITA ». She shared her experience with those who have to cope with infertility, and underlined the importance of actively listening to individuals facing these intimate and painful issues, to help them avoid being misled, to provide support and give them courage to face disapproval. Finally, Tugdual Derville, VITA’s General Delegate, spoke about “Consenting to Limits” for the section on “The price of brotherhood”. He asked each participant to imagine his own funeral and to choose 3 words that he would like to be remembered by, and to adopt these words as “guidelines for the rest of his earthly life”. This enriching evening was concluded by a round table discussion whereby the speakers responded to the participants’ questions. The theme for the second evening for the Bioethics Conference scheduled on January 21 is “Life, subject to conditions?”  ]]>

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