BIOTECH: "Children of Science"/five parents

Max More (
Fri, 07 Mar 1997 10:20:23 -0800

[Some interesting quotes in this story.]

Five-person pregnancy sparks debate in Italy

Copyright =A9 1997
Copyright =A9 1997 Reuter Information Service=20

ROME (Mar 7, 1997 10:19 a.m. EST) - An Italian woman provoked a storm of
outrage Friday with the news that she is acting as a surrogate mother and
expecting two boys in a pregnancy involving five people.

Gynaecologist Pasquale Bilotta said on Thursday that he had implanted two
eggs from different women and fertilized by separate men in the surrogate

He said both female donors were Italian. The surrogate mother, identified
only as "Angela," was three months pregnant.

Health Minister Rosy Bindi, who this week announced a temporary ban in
Italy on all forms of human and animal experimentation linked to cloning,
was aghast.

"We have crossed unimaginable boundaries," she said.

Bilotta said that the operation was carried out in Switzerland because the
Italian medical body forbids surrogate motherhood in its professional code
of conduct although there is no legal ban on the practice.

Aldo Pagni, the president of the country's medical order, said the fact
that Bilotta had gone abroad did not absolve him and he should face
sanctions in Italy. He also called for government legislation to prevent
future cases.

Father Gino Concetti, a Roman Catholic moral theologian whose views are
close to those of Pope John Paul, said the pregnancy was "a new step toward
madness" and urged a ban.

He said surrogate motherhood was "a blatant violation of natural maternity
and a grave offence against personal dignity which calls for conception in
a dignified manner and by natural means by a couple united in regular

The Catholic Church opposes all forms of artificial human conception,
including test-tube fertilization and surrogate motherhood, as well as
experimentation on embryos.

"Two children are being born as the offspring of five adults, of two
fathers and three mothers. Here the whole concept of the family, of
brothers and of twins has been blown to pieces," La Stampa newspaper=

"They are children of science and that is it."

"Angela," a mother of two children aged eight and 10, told newspapers that
she had decided to help two childless women "out of love" and was not being
paid anything more than her expenses.

"It is an act of humanity," she said, adding that after the birth she did
not want to see the babies and had not wanted information about the parents.

She said she was a Roman Catholic but had no difficulties in reconciling
her faith and her decision.

"The Church can say what it wants. I remain a Catholic, I believe in God
and don't understand why a person should be condemned for trying to help
others," she told the Rome daily La Repubblica.

The only ethically unacceptable thing would have been to take money for
what she was doing, she declared.

The reaction was not all completely hostile.

Rosanna Della Corte, an Italian who had a test-tube baby at the age of 62
in 1994 in a case that caused a similar storm, said the case of "Angela"
was a beautiful miracle of science although she opposed surrogacy.

"A woman is not a machine, she is a mother," she said. "If I were that
woman in Rome, once the babies were born I would keep them rather than hand
them over."

Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute, Editor, Extropy,
(310) 398-0375