CANBERRA (CWN) - Hundreds of frozen embryos resulting from in-vitro fertilization escaped state-mandated death on Wednesday when the Infertility Treatment Authority granted a three-month reprieve so clinics could search for the parents who stored their unborn children two years ago.

      New laws in Victoria state, initially scheduled to go into effect on January 1, required that unclaimed frozen, unborn children stored for more than five years would be killed. Three Australian states now have time limits on embryo storage. Medical professionals and church groups have both expressed concern over the number of embryos stored in Australia's 24 fertility clinics.

      Although some officials balked at saying the embryos were being killed, Father Brian Lucas of the archdiocese of Sydney questioned the morality of the whole process. "So many of the in-vitro fertilization techniques involve a quite dramatic destruction of embryos and a weakening of a respect for the dignity of the human person," he said. "I think we can play with words and say we are not killing them, we are destroying them, but I think that proves the very point."

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January 2, 1998 volume 9, no. 2          DAILY CATHOLIC