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ITEST Webinar

Treating Human Embryos as Human Patients
The Magisterial and Medical FAQS

This webinar was presented on June 24, 2023

The heinous scientific experiments performed on living human beings at the hands of Nazi doctors and researchers was internationally condemned and prohibited as “crimes against humanity” by the Nuremberg Code that was formulated seventy-five years ago in August 1947. In 1987, forty years later, the Magisterial Instruction Donum vitae added important new bioethical standards regarding the ethical and medical treatment of human embryos:
– Are Therapeutic Procedures Carried Out on the Human Embryo Licit?
– How is One Morally to Evaluate Research and Experimentation on Human Embryos?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2274, also clearly teaches that “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.” This webinar will discuss the moral imperative to “treat human embryos as human patients” and to protect them – “like any other human being” – from “heinous crimes against humanity.”

Our presenters

Elizabeth B. Rex, MBA, Ph.D., Th.D. (candidate)

The Magisterial FAQS Regarding the Ethical Treatment – and the Legal Protection – of Human Embryos who are Human Beings

Dr. Elizabeth Rex is the President of the The Children First Foundation, a charitable and educational organization dedicated to promoting Adoption as a positive and loving choice for unwanted unborn children, including unwanted frozen embryos. Dr. Rex has taught Bioethics at Holy Apostles College & Seminary and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Catholic Studies at Sacred Heart University. Dr. Rex has spoken at major conferences and is a frequent contributor to National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly regarding the moral arguments in the embryo adoption debate.


My presentation will discuss the most important Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS) regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church in Donum vitae (in 1987), Dignitas personae (in 2008), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that magisterially define and defend the ethical treatment of human beings from the first moment of their conception. These major magisterial documents also call for the “intervention of political authorities and legislators” to establish civil laws that ensure the legal protection of “human beings, even at the embryonic stage.” (Donum vitae III: Conclusion). My presentation will conclude with a brief review of important international and national laws that have already been legislatively enacted to provide the legal protection of embryos as human beings, who must be treated as human persons and patients.

George Mychaskiw II, DO, FAAP, FACOP, FASA

The Medical FAQS Regarding the Ethical and Therapeutic Healthcare of Human Embryos who are Human Patients

Dr. George Mychaskiw is a founder and President of the Saint Padre Pio Institute School of Osteopathic Medicine (proposed), which will be co-located on the campus of Benedictine College, Atchison, Kansas. Dr. Mychaskiw is a thought leader in medical education and has developed four operating US osteopathic medical colleges and is in the process of developing four more. A practicing cardiac anesthesiologist, Dr. Mychaskiw is a graduate of the Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency and fellowships in pediatric and cardiothoracic anesthesiology at the Yale University School of Medicine.


In vitro fertilization (IVF) and the creation of human embryos are assisted reproductive technologies that have come into widespread use ahead of a structured foundation in medical ethics. As a result, the commercial applications of IVF have outpaced ethical restraint and consideration, such that millions of human lives are being created, without thought to their ultimate disposition. This presentation will discuss the biomedical aspects of IVF technology and illustrate the numerous unintended consequences of its proliferation. A case will be made for a prohibition or moratorium on IVF until legislation and regulations are enacted to protect these human lives and prevent further erosion of unborn human rights.

Our Q&A Moderator

Francis Etheredge

Francis Etheredge is a Catholic married layman, with eleven children, three of whom he hopes are in heaven and the rest of whom are alive and well and stepping through life’s stages of school, university, and career. In the last seven years, he has returned to being a self-employed writer, adding twelve books to one already published. Francis is the author of several books on the question of the beginning of each one of us, a number of which have been published by En Route Books and MediaThe Human Person: A Bioethical WordConception: An Icon of the BeginningMary and Bioethics: An ExplorationThe ABCQ of Conceiving Conception, and Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics. Coming soon is his new book, Human Nature: Moral Norm.

Webinar resources

Dr. Rex’s published Colloquys, Essays, and Articles in the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly
Embryo Adoption and Conscience (Winter 2011)
IVF, Embryo Transfer, and Embryo Adoption (Summer 2014)
The Magisterial Liceity of Embryo Transfer (Winter 2015)
Impregnation versus Implantation in the Embryo Adoption Debate (Autumn 2017)

Dr. Mychaskiw’s Resources
Follow the Science: A Catholic Physician’s Contemplations on Faith, Medicine, and the Catholic Church
Catholic Healthcare International
Children of a lesser god?
Saint Padre Pio Institute for the Relief of Suffering School of Osteopathic Medicine

Important reference books
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2270 – 2275
Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life by William E. May (2008, Second Edition) ISBN: 978-1-59276-330-6
The Ethics of Embryo Adoption and the Catholic Tradition: Moral Arguments, Economic Reality and Social Analysis (2008, Springer) ISBN: 978-1-4020-6210-0

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Donum vitae: Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day, February 22, 1987
Instruction Dignitas personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, December 8, 2008

ITEST Webinar
The Moral Arguments in the Embryo Adoption Debate, May 8, 2021

International Legislation
Germany’s “Embryo Protection Act” (1990)
Italy’s “Medically Assisted Reproduction Law” (2004)

National Legislation
Louisiana Health Law: Chapter 3 – Human Embryos: “An in vitro fertilized human ovum exists as a juridical person….” (1986)
State of Georgia – HB388 -“Embryo Adoption Law” (2009)
Americans United for Life (AUL) –  “Embryo Adoption Act: Model Legislation & Policy Guide”

Other Interviews
Dr. Rex’ WCAT Radio interview with Hannah Strege (snowflake baby # 1) 5 years ago on January 18, 2018 –
Mary Anne Urlakis’ interview with Nick Loeb, the producer with Jon Voigt of the Roe v Wade film –

Books by Francis Etheredge
The Human Person: A Bioethical Word
Conception: An Icon of the Beginning
Unfolding a Post-Roe World
Reaching for the Resurrection: A Pastoral Bioethics
Mary and Bioethics: An Exploration
Human Nature: Moral Norm (forthcoming this year)

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