Infertility pp 181-194 | Cite as

In Vitro Fertilization: Secular Moral Authority, Biomedicine, and the Role of the State

  • Kevin Wm. Wildes
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 53)


One of the most overlooked sections of Donum Vitae is, perhaps, the most important chapter of the document. The third chapter of Donum Vitae is entitled “Moral and Civil Law”. The chapter argues that there are natural moral values, concerning marriage and family, that must be protected by those who govern civil society. This chapter of Donum Vitae, with its legislative recommendations, is logically consistent with the natural law tradition that has been so influential in the shaping of Roman Catholic moral theology. The assumption of natural law theology is that a common morality can be discovered by natural reason. Since the moral law can be known by reason, society ought to be shaped by it. Since the role of the civil government is to promote the common good and civil order it is the duty of civil government to enforce morality. Donum Vitae reasons that general principles can be known and applied universally and since such principles about marriage and the family can be discovered by natural reason, it is a duty of civil governments to regulate new reproductive technologies.


Moral Dilemma Moral Vision Moral Authority Common Morality Moral Term 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Wm. Wildes

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