THE STRAITS TIMES (Sep 1) carried an article, "New way to freeze eggs can help those with cancer", in which Dr Loh Seong Feei was reported to have said that "another group that could benefit from the quick-freezing of eggs are Catholics who do not want embryos – which they see as human life – discarded because of their religious beliefs. Instead of freezing the additional embryos which may later have to be discarded, Catholics now have the option of just freezing eggs for later use."
As the statement might mislead people about Catholic teaching on this subject, Dr Gabriel Seow, Deputy Master of the Catholic Medical Guild (CMG) of Singapore, wrote to The Straits Times to clarify. His comments follow:
• Embryology textbooks acknowledge that human life begins at conception. It is not a mere Catholic belief, but a scientific fact.
• Many people of various and even no religious persuasions view the discarding and destruction of human embryos as unethical. Hence this is not a "religious belief" held by Catholics alone, but by many who are convinced that every human life is to be respected, from the very beginning of its existence.
• For various reasons, artificial reproductive techniques such as IVF and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), even when they involve frozen eggs instead of frozen embryos, are not considered morally licit. Readers interested in a more detailed account of the church’s reasons for this stand may visit www.priestsforlife.org/magisterium/donumvitae.htm
Dr Seow said that the CMG empathized with the anguish of couples who want to have babies but are unable to. "We support all forms of research that help
these couples, as long as these respect the dignity of the human embryo and the marital act," he said.
"In this regard, we are pleased to note that there are some effective, natural and morally acceptable methods
that married couples can use to try to maximize their chances of achieving pregnancy, such as the Billings Ovulation Method (developed in Melbourne, Australia) and NaProTechnology (developed in Omaha, USA), both of which are available in Singapore," he added.
He emphasized that the old and not quite reliable "Rhythm" method for regulating pregnancies has been outdated for more than 30 years now. The newer methods mentioned above are much more scientific and reliable, he stressed.
"They can be used for both regular and irregular cycles, and thus are much more accurate when used in achieving or postponing pregnancy," Dr Seow said.