"Embryo as Patient" Hailed by Conference

Doctors and Surgeons of Roman Universities Meet

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ROME, FEB. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A conference of doctors and surgeons urged that human embryos be afforded the same rights as other patients.



The meeting, which ended Saturday in the public University of La Sapienza, was promoted by the medical schools of state and Catholic universities of Rome. It focused on the "embryo as patient."

In a closing statement, the 200 doctors and surgeons on hand called for patients´ rights for embryonic human beings.

Professor Domenico Arduini, gynecologist of the public University of Tor Vergata, told ZENIT that the initiative has helped "doctors relate to the embryo, both in research and in care."

"The embryo is already a patient, in the field of scientific research, as we carry out interventions to improve and cure genetic alterations, to reduce damages of possible environmental alterations, and especially to guarantee a better pregnancy," Arduini said.

In the past, "scientific research only treated the woman as a patient; at present medical practice recognizes the embryo´s own identity," the professor added. "It is interesting to note that, in treating the embryo as a patient, the woman also receives considerable benefits."

The final manifesto of the doctors and scientists -- who reflected different ideologies -- is entitled "The Embryo As Patient." It states that the latest progress in science "offers consistent evidence that leads to the consideration of human life as a continuation, which in the embryonic and aging phases has the beginning and end of its natural course."

"The newly conceived appears as a defined biological reality: It is a totally human individual in the process of development that, moment after moment, autonomously, without any discontinuity, actualizes its own form by realizing a design present in its own genome," the document adds.

"Therefore, the embryo shows itself from the beginning as a protagonist of its biological existence," the doctors conclude.

The conferees promised, among other things:

--To care for the embryo inspired by the same ethical-deontological principles proper to any other health intervention, thus guaranteeing the very dignity owed to every patient and the human conditions to grow and develop.

--To sensitize public-health officials so that they create the structures needed to foster the ideal environment for the embryo´s development, including adequate care for the mother.

--To relaunch the teaching of embryology in the university curriculum of medical and health personnel, as a moment of particular formative importance.

--To foster interdisciplinary research so that the embryo will be known and welcomed in its inviolable dignity.