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Major US Protestant group calls for IVF restrictions

By AFP

June 13, 2024 11:28 AM


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The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, called Wednesday for restrictions on in-vitro fertilization, as the hot-button topic of reproductive rights takes center stage ahead of November elections.

Delegates at the Southern Baptists' annual convention adopted a resolution criticizing IVF due to the fact that the procedure often results in unused embryos being destroyed.

It said the procedure "routinely generates more embryos than can be safely implanted, thus resulting in the continued freezing, stockpiling, and ultimate destruction of human embryos, some of whom may also be subjected to medical experimentation."

The delegates called on Southern Baptists to "reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage."

They urged members to "only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation especially in the number of embryos generated in the IVF process."

Those planning to use IVF should "consider adopting frozen embryos," the resolution says.

The delegates also called on Southern Baptists to "advocate for the government to restrain actions inconsistent with the dignity and value of every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings."

With a network of tens of thousands of churches, the Southern Baptist Convention has around 13 million members, mainly in the American South.

According to the Pew Research Center, there were around 141 million Protestants in the United States in 2019.

The Southern Baptists' resolution comes as Democrats seek to make reproductive rights a key campaign issue ahead of elections on November 5.

The vote will be the first presidential election since the US Supreme Court in 2022 overturned the nationwide right to an abortion, after which most Republican-led states moved to quickly outlaw the procedure.

IVF has also become a major issue following a February court ruling in deeply conservative Alabama that said that frozen embryos had the rights of children.

Decried by Democratic President Joe Biden as "outrageous and unacceptable," the decision led to several Alabama clinics suspending their IVF programs and quickly became a national political flashpoint.

Faced with a national outcry, including pressure from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Alabama's legislature quickly moved to pass a law to protect IVF.

Seeking to raise the issue's profile, Democrats in the US Senate plan to bring a national IVF protection bill to a vote on Thursday.

Republicans however are expected to block the bill, after another IVF bill introduced by their party members was stymied by Democrats on Wednesday.


AFP


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