Document Detail

Ethical issues in human reproduction: Protestant perspectives in the light of European Protestant and Reformed Churches.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  24079450     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract Protestantism is not a centralized religion. It is composed by many independent Churches having different moral and ethical standards. This review concentrates on the ethical principles prevalent in most modern European Reformed Churches. It does not intend to discuss the ethical principles of many other Protestant Churches present mainly in the USA. The common foundations of Protestant theology are the "five sola ("Sola scriptura", Sola fide", "Sola gratia", Solus Christus or Solo Christo", "Soli deo gloria"). In opposition to the Catholic Church, no intermediary is needed between the Bible and the believer. As a consequence, Protestant Churches have no Magisterium, such as the Catholic Church. Therefore Protestant Churches cannot declare a certain position to be the "official position". Each Christian is personally responsible for all his acts, including his ethical behaviour. There is no complete unanimity among all Protestants on ethics or on any other issue. Human dignity, personal rights and self-determination have to be respected in each ethical consideration. The supersession of the Old Mosaic Covenant (including traditional Jewish law or Halakhah, maintained in Catholicism) by the New Covenant and by Christian Theology has an important impact on Protestant ethics in reproductive medicine. In the New Covenant, the Protestants Churches did not maintain the mandatory obligation from the old Mosaic Covenant to be fruitful and to multiply: there is no divine obligation by God to procreate. As a consequence, contraception is not a sin and not unethical. The status of the embryo is the key for the ethical consideration of all methods used in reproductive medicine. Most representatives of modern Protestant theology and bioethics defend the opinion that the embryo is not an independent human being as is the newborn child. For most Protestant bio-ethicists, as long as an embryo has no nervous system, no organs and no pain receptors, it cannot be seen as a human being sensu strictiori: the zygote is not yet a "human being". The ethical right to be protected prenatally increases gradually with the age and the development of the embryo. Following this so-called gradualist interpretation, the early stages of an embryo merit ethically a special status: although they have already "human life", they are not yet a "human being". All ethical considerations in modern reproductive medicine discussed in this review are based on this concept of the status of the embryo. It depends largely on the acceptance or rejection of this special status of the embryo, if a Protestant considers a certain method in reproductive medicine to be ethical or unethical.
Martin Birkhäuser
Publication Detail:
Journal Detail:
Title:  Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology     Volume:  29     ISSN:  1473-0766     ISO Abbreviation:  Gynecol. Endocrinol.     Publication Date:  2013 Nov 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-10-1     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  8807913     Medline TA:  Gynecol Endocrinol     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  955-959     Citation Subset:  -    
Gynaecological Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine, University of Berne , Switzerland.
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