Korean Church says ‘no’ to IVF treatment for unmarried women

A Church group in South Korea has criticised the national Human Rights Commission for pushing for a revision of reproductive health guidelines to allow single, unmarried women to have children through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

Jul 15, 2022

A priest baptizes a child in a Catholic Church in South Korea in 2020. Seoul Archdiocese’s Committee for Life is opposing a proposal to allow in-vitro fertilization for single women to have children. (Photo: Catholic Times of Korea)

SEOUL: A Church group in South Korea has criticised the national Human Rights Commission for pushing for a revision of reproductive health guidelines to allow single, unmarried women to have children through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The Committee for Life of the Archdiocese of Seoul says it deplores a Korean Human Rights Commission proposal to the Korean Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a national association of doctors, to revise ‘Assisted Reproductive Technology Ethics Guidelines’ to permit unmarried women to have IVF treatment.

In-vitro fertilisation is a complex series of medical procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child, according to Mayo Clinic. During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilised by sperm in a lab.

Pro-life activists oppose the procedure stating that it “commercialises childbirth” and “treats the foetus as a commercial property.”

Fr Park Jung-woo, secretary of the committee, said the proposed revision goes against Catholic Church teachings.

“Some embryos are implanted successfully, only healthy embryos are left among them, and the rest are aborted,” Catholic Peace Broadcasting Corporation quoted Fr Park as saying on July 12.

“It’s a matter of sorting out some life. The remaining embryos are stored in the freezer and then destroyed or sent to the lab. This is not ethical,” the priest said.

Earlier this month, the National Human Rights Commission had said that it was ‘discriminatory’ to restrict IVF procedures for unmarried women.

“We must recognise individual life and diversity and guarantee a woman’s right to self-determination,” the commission stated.

This came after several single women lodged complaints with the commission, saying that they wished to undergo IVF treatment but doctors had turned them down citing existing laws that ban IVF for single women.

South Korea’s Bioethics and Safety Act mandates that anyone seeking IVF treatment must obtain consent from their legal spouses, which effectively prohibits single women from getting treatment.

Meanwhile, receiving donor sperm is only allowed in cases where the husband is sterile or has a serious genetic disease. –ucanews.com

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