Every human life has value.

Jenny relates a story about a couple who “selectively reduced” the number of children that were successfully implanted. By “selectively reduced” I mean she had one of her three unborn children killed with an abortion at 20 weeks. As a result of the abortion one of the remaining two children died at 27 weeks. Then, after the now only child was born, they tried for another child, only to abort that one after an amniocentesis showed possible evidence of Down’s. This story, by the way, was shared by the mother at a support group for mothers who had miscarriages while carrying multiples – the majority of whom had resorted to IVF to conceive. Read her whole post here.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds this maddening!

Speaking of IVF. Yesterday Rebecca Taylor of Mary Meets Dolly was on a Catholic radio show talking to the host about the morality of embryo adoption, likely a follow-up to this post of hers a few weeks ago. Here on this blog, I have said that I thought embryo adoption is the best response to the hundreds of thousands of “left-over” embryos since being perpetually frozen, thrown in the garbage and/or used for their stem cells are all beneath their dignity as human beings. And it was my understanding that those who were opposed to embryo adoption did so because they thought it could encourage more IVF if parents knew there would be an “ethical” way get rid of the embryos they don’t end up using. But, it turns out that there’s a little bit more to the issue, at least among some Catholic theologians. Wrote Taylor:

There are two camps of Catholic thought on embryo adoptions with variations in each camp. There are those that believe embryo adoption to be immoral and those who believe it to be moral. It seems the dividing line depends on whether pregnancy is viewed as a part of the procreative process between a husband and wife or whether pregnancy is seen as a biological nurturing that is a necessity after fertilization has occurred.

Those who view pregnancy as part of the procreative process believe that it is immoral for a woman to be impregnated outside of the marital act, period. And those on the other side agree that sexual intercourse, conception and gestation all naturally go together, but, they argue that, with the natural process interrupted with IVF, pregnancy and gestation is turned into a biological necessity to save the life that has been created.

It’s a pretty fascinating debate that leads to other questions, depending on what side you are on. Read the whole thing, when you get a chance!

July 22nd, 2011 at 4:18 pm
7 Responses to “More IVF Madness”
  1. 1
    Geoffrey Says:

    My view–the embryos are real people whose lives need saving, and we need a courageous group of women to step up and do the job instead of debating about it. I wish they’d found a religious order dedicated to embryo adoption.

  2. 2
    Chelsea Says:

    Geoffrey – read Rebecca’s post. Your position begs the question: if embryo adoption is moral then who can and should adopt? What “courageous” women should “step up?” If there aren’t enough married women, should we open it up to single women? Nuns? Lesbians? Surrogates for homosexual males?

    What would a religious order do about it? Keep them frozen forever – which is against their dignity as human beings? Should it be an order of nuns who would conceive them, bring them to term and then, what? put them up for adoption? Raise them in the convent?

    And no one is arguing about whether or not these are real people with precious lives. The question is, what do we do with them now that they’re here? The answer is not that easy…

  3. 3

    This really is a tough question. I believe I was solidly on the pro-embryo adoption side until I read the compelling arguments against. I am of two minds now. On one hand, like many, I feel compelled to do something about these little lives. They deserve to have a chance at finishing their lives. On the other hand, I am not sure the Church can endorse something that may violate marriage and alienate the husband (since the wife becomes a gestational mother and the husband has no biological connection.) Of course not all men would feel alienated, but if asked I think many would admit that they would not like the idea of their wife becoming impregnated with the biological offspring of another. It was the violation of marriage that got us into this mess. Taking one more step down that road may not be such a good idea. Truly a difficult issue for the Church and for Catholics in general.

  4. 4
    jen Says:

    If you truly believe that life begins at conception, then there are over 500,000+ frozen lives in the US alone… what other option is there for these lives frozen in time- other than embryo adoption?

  5. 5

    [...] Reflections of a Paralytic describes recent instances of “IVF madness” such as selective reduction, eugenics, and controversy over embryo adoption in the Catholic Church. Obviously, this method of resolving infertility is fraught with moral and ethical questions. [...]

  6. 6
    JoAnna Says:

    Rebecca, I wonder if you could change the first line of this post… when I first read it I thought you were saying the children were “implanted with an abortion” and it took me a while to figure out what that meant. :)

    Perhaps instead it could be, “Jenny relates a story about a couple who ‘selectively reduced,’ via abortion, the number of children successfully implanted during an IVF cycle.”

    Otherwise, very thought-provoking story… I can see the pros and cons of embryo adoption. It’s a sticky issue, for sure.

  7. 7
    Chelsea Says:

    JoAnna – thanks for the advice. I changed it a little bit to make more sense.