Catholic students spark controversy over IVF support
The L.A.-based Catholic school issued a statement on its decision to submit the brief, saying it is “committed to the academic freedom of faculty members and students to participate in the study of different perspectives.”
But Dr. Anthony Lilles, professor of spiritual theology at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, Colo., countered that a Catholic understanding of academic freedom means that it should be guided by truth as revealed in scripture and tradition, and as taught by the Magisterium of the Church.
“Academic freedom means the freedom to pursue the truth, wherever it might take you,” he said in an interview with CNA Oct. 1.
Loyola Law School is a branch of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, which describes itself as a “Catholic institution.”
The legal brief, submitted Sept. 3, concerns a case before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, in which Costa Rican couples wishing to use in-vitro fertilization are suing the country for prohibiting the practice. The brief is called an “amicus curiae,” or “friend of the court.”
The document was prepared by students in the International Human Rights Clinic, and supervised by Professor Cesare Romano.
Loyola Law School is not representing either side in the case, and by releasing the brief “merely seeks to advise the court on a matter that relates to the litigation,” the school’s statement reported.
The brief is written solely on legal grounds and does not address the moral implications of IVF, which almost invariably results in the destruction of human embryos.
Students at the Catholic law school encouraged the court to “steer clear of the debate about when life begins and what the legal status of human embryos is.”
Rather than deciding the case based on the rights of embryos, the brief indicated that the the decision should be grounded in “the rights of infertile women and men.”
Although the brief said that the issue of when life begins “remains better left to the will of States and their practice,” it overlooked Costa Rica’s move to not to legalize in-vitro when a bill permitting the practice failed in its legislature. [More]