Bioethics and the Birth of Christ

ChelseaPro LifeLeave a Comment

baby-jesus.jpgThis is a classic post, from Msgr. Charles Pope on “Bioethics and the Birth of Christ”:

As we approach Christmas we ought to ponder the magnificence of human conception, gestation, birth and life. Even as we extoll the birth of Jesus, we also do well to acknowledge the awesome and mysterious truth that every human person emerges not merely from a biological process, but from the very mind and heart of God, from his will and as an act of his love. None of us are here by accident.

He goes on to discuss the many ways that God’s sovereignty over human conception and life are usurped or ignored in modern times via In Vitro Fertilization, irreverence for sexuality, abortion, and rejection of the disabled and the imperfect. Read the whole thing.

In recent decades the creation of new human life has become nothing more than a biological formula — a science experiment, rather than the mysterious fruit of a loving act between husband and wife.

“When life is merely a technology to do with as we please,” Msgr Pope writes, “it is not long before we end up in some pretty dark places.”

Since the creation of human life has been taken out of the womb and into the science lab we’ve seen some pretty dark stuff: women exploited and abused, babies bought and sold on the black market…

And now we are moving closer and closer to genetically-engineering our children and, consequently, altering the genetic future of humanity.

Let us remember

visitationicon.pngIn Gaudium et Spes we read: “[O]nly in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light” (22)

By His Incarnation, Christ intimately united Himself to the entire human race and showed us the incomparable value of every human person from the very beginning and reminded us that God alone is the author of all human life.

While we are called to cooperate with Him in the mystery of creation, the initiative, says Msgr. Pope, is always God’s. We do not have the authority to take matters of — either the beginning or the end of — human life into our own hands.

EU Condemns Surrogacy

ChelseaSurrogacyLeave a Comment

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Woke up to some good news on Facebook this morning (for a change). Via the Center for Bioethics and Culture:

We’ve just gotten word that the European Parliament has clearly condemned surrogacy, approving the following statement:

“Condemns the practice of surrogacy, which undermines the human dignity of the woman since her body and its reproductive functions are used as a commodity; considers that the practice of gestational surrogacy which involves reproductive exploitation and use of the human body for financial or other gain, in particular in the case of vulnerable women in developing countries, shall be prohibited and treated as a matter of urgency in human rights instruments;”

Read more.
Meanwhile, in America:

1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers are weighing whether New York should lift its ban on commercial surrogacy, which was enacted in 1993.

2. An Idaho woman, who served as a surrogate three times, and died in October carrying twins. Three people dead and no one’s talking about it.

3. Melissa Cook, who is now 20 weeks pregnant with healthy triplets, is being pressured under legal contract to abort one of the babies she’s carrying for a man in Georgia.

4. A second California surrogate, has come forward after reading Cook’s story and realizing that she was not alone in her situation. She is 17 weeks pregnant with triplets and seeking legal help to fight the abortion coercion.

Repeat after me: Women are not breeders — and children are not commodities. Let’s join the EU and stop this once and for all. Add your name to the petition to stop surrogacy now. Signing is easy.

The Immaculate Conception

ChelseaPro LifeLeave a Comment

nullI’m always amazed when people try to come up with a religious argument for supporting the destruction of nascent human life. I’ve heard the “abortion isn’t mentioned in the bible” line and, of course, the excuse that some fathers of the Church thought ensoulment was delayed till a few weeks after conception.

That’s why I love today’s feast commemorating the Immaculate Conception, a doctrine that was verified by the Immaculate Virgin herself.

God did not choose to purify the womb that would carry His son at some random point in her development outside the womb like, say, her presentation and dedication in the temple or at the Annunciation, both of of which would have seemed appropriate or reasonable. Rather, he chose to preserve the sinlessness of the Mother of God from the very moment of her conception inside the womb of St. Anne.

This, like the Incarnation itself and the scene at the Visitation when the unborn John the Baptist leaped for joy in the womb of St. Elizabeth, illustrates the significance and the sacredness of all life before birth from its very beginning.

Let us pray on this day that such innocent life may once again be preserved and protected in our Nation through the intercession of this Immaculate Mother, Patroness of our Land.

O, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

Img: St. Anne Conceiving the Virgin Mary, Jean Bellegambe.

Thank God for Eternal Life!

ChelseaDeath, Eternal Life, Faith, Hope, Prayer, Religion2 Comments

Those of us who fight for the right to life of every human being on this earth must also remember to be joyfully aware that this life, as beautiful as it may be, is not our ultimate end.

Though we fight for truth and freedom in our beloved country, it remains but an earthly dwelling place, a temporary homeland where we must prepare ourselves for the greater Home that awaits us:

I know the country I am living in is not really my true fatherland, and there is another I must long for without ceasing. This is not simply a story invented by someone living in the sad country where I am, but it is a reality, for the King of the Fatherland of the bright sun actually came and lived for thirty-three years in the land of darkness.(Story of a Soul, Manuscript C).

Heaven. Resurrection. Eternal Life. What we believe, what we hope for, is not merely some lofty philosophical ideal or the fantasy of uneducated simpletons. It is truth, Divinely revealed and able to be known through human reason (CCC 156-59).

I love this little dialogue at the end of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov:

“Karamazov!” cried Kolya, “can it really be true as religion says, that we shall all rise from the dead, and come to life, and see one another again, and everyone, and Ilyushecka?”

“Certainly we shall rise, certainly we shall see and gladly, joyfully tell one another all that has been,” Alyosha relied, half laughing, half in ecstasy.

“Ah, how good that will be!” burst from Kolya.

How good that will be, indeed!

As this month for All Souls comes to an end let us pray for all the nullfaithful departed: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

And now we begin that great season of hope where we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord when truth and justice will finally reign for all eternity.

If we make death our starting point, we will have no illusions about life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ChelseaCute Baby Blogging1 Comment

Recent events in Paris and Beirut, with threats of more attacks on the way are enough for anyone to question the wisdom of bringing children into such a cruel world.

But new life is new hope for a better and brighter future. And there has never been a better time to create a brighter future.

New life to be thankful for this year: my new nephew and godson, of course (born 3/17/15)!!

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I need more baby naps in my life.
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My TWO adorable nephews!
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Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes. 5:16-18)

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. God is good; let him know you appreciate him and all he does for love of you — even when it’s painful.

Audio: Genetic Engineering and Adoptee Rights

ChelseaAdoption, Genetic EngineeringLeave a Comment

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I was on the radio with Mike Allen this morning talking about CRISPR-mania in China and the rights of adopted children. Click the play buttons below to listen.

November is National Adoption Month, and while Adoption is such a wonderful thing for so many individuals, that doesn’t mean it is without consequence.

Like so many donor-conceived children, adopted children often grow up with a deep longing to know where they came from. And, like many donor-conceived children, they are often denied access to that information.

It’s a sensitive, and even sometimes a sore subject. But if we’re really concerned about what’s in the best interest of the child, I think it’s an important conversation to have.

Equality?

ChelseaEgg Harvesting, Family, Gay Marriage/Homosexuality, IVF, Reproductive Technology, SurrogacyLeave a Comment

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A few weeks ago I posted a video of Millie Fontana, a donor-conceived daughter of lesbian mothers. In her speech, Fontana touched on the imbalance of “equality” in the LGBT debate.

Indeed, “equality” is the buzz word for this debate. Marriage equality. Family equality. Of treating people with equal respect for who they are as human beings.

But what about the men, women and children involved in achieving this “equality”? To make a family with children even partially biologically related to them, same-sex couples must use third-party reproduction.

The children

Consciously or unconsciously, to desire a child as the end result of a technological procedure instead of the fruit of marital love is to treat the child not as a person to love, but a product to obtain.

Even the children conceived through this technology often recognize this fact, themselves.

According to the 2010 study “My Daddy’s Name is Donor“, the first real effort to learn about the identity, kinship, well-being, and social justice experiences of young adults who were conceived through sperm donation, 45% of children conceived from an anonymous sperm donation reported that they were bothered by the fact that money was exchanged in order to conceive them.

Quoting Jessica Kern, a woman conceived and born via anonymous egg donation and surrogacy:

“As much as I do believe that surrogacy can come from a compassionate place… as a product of surrogacy, it’s hard not to be aware of the fact that there is a price tag. There is an awareness that, you know, in essence, you were bought by the family that you grew up with. You are a product at the end of the day.”

Alana Newman is another outspoken donor-conceived woman and founder of Anonymous Us, a support group for the children of anonymous sperm donors. Earlier this year she and another donor-conceived woman co-authored an article supporting fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana for criticizing artificial reproduction:

I am indeed a human being. My liver, heart, hair, and enzymes all work the same. I’ve discovered it is my psychology that is different and not-quite-right, due to my conception. It’s not a matter for doctors to fix; it’s a spiritual problem. My father accepted money, and promised to have nothing to do with me. My mother was wonderful and I have always loved her deeply, as she has loved me. But my journey is a battle against the void left by my father’s absence, and a particular disability in understanding the difference between sacred and commercial, exploitation and cooperation. Those torments for me far outweigh any social stigma or momentarily painful gossip I’ve endured from ignorant people.

Even with the best intentions, taking the creation of life out of its natural, God-given context and moving it into the science lab seriously alters how many view the wonder and mystery of new life and how that new life should be treated.

Nowhere is this more evident than in India where surrogacy has become full-scale human trafficking with babies literally being bought and sold on the black market.

The women

Then, of course there are the women who put their bodies and lives on the line in order to obtain the “raw materials” needed for this cultural experimentation.

Women like Maggie, who was never informed of the risks egg donation posed to her own health and well-being. Who was used repeatedly for others’ gain, but when things turned bad for her, she was left on her own to navigate tests, treatments, surgeries, and an unknown prognosis.

Women like Brooke, an Idaho woman who served as a surrogate three times and died last month carrying twins, reportedly for a Spanish couple.

Surrogacy and egg donation —- especially in places like India -— takes advantage of those of a lower social position in life and then exploits them.

HBO Vice correspondent, Gianna Toboni, recently traveled to India to report the country’s booming surrogacy industry where impoverished women are recruited to be “gestational carriers” for middle-to-upper-class Western women. In an interview with NY Magazine, Toboni said that most American couples turn a blind eye or don’t want to know what goes on behind the scenes in Indian surrogacy agencies because, “they want their baby fast, and they want it done cheaply.”

The practice of commercial surrogacy is indistinguishable from the buying and selling of children. In fact, Cambodia has gone so far as to announce plans to officially classify surrogacy as human trafficking. And in 2011 the European Parliament passed a resolution calling surrogacy “an exploitation of the female body and her reproductive organs.”

Women did not come this far to be treated like breeding animals.

The men

Even the men, whose contribution may not be quite as risky to his health or life as the women, are known only by a number and a set of physical characteristics. “Donor #T5, brown-haired and brown-eyed with O-positive blood type.”

Equality?

To quote a saint whose feast day we celebrated last month: “A person’s rightful due is to be treated as an object of love, not as an object for use.”

Third party reproduction turns people into products.

How is that equality?

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Because I Can

ChelseaDisabledLeave a Comment

I love Gianna. (Background: Jessen has the “gift of cerebral palsy” and walks with a limp.)
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Her tweet above reminds me of my response when people ask me “why don’t you use an electric wheelchair (it’s easier, you can move faster, etc…)?” “Because I can use my hands and arms,” I say.

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Maybe it’s prideful, but I’ve discovered that when a disability takes so much away from you, you relish the things that you still can do…even if they do require a little more effort.

And, yes, you also relish proving to others that you’re not as broken or helpless as they think you are.

On a related note: this is a nice little video from Australia on Living With a Spinal Cord Injury.

There’s still so much we can do!

Third Party Reproduction vs. Adoption

ChelseaAdoption, IVF, Reproductive TechnologyLeave a Comment

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When I re-posted this graphic from the Center for Bioethics and Culture (using data from this study) on Facebook someone objected to it, concerned that something like that might be harmful to her adopted son if he ever came across it. Causing him to feel shame since his parents had to pay money, as well.

I understand her concern, especially since her son is still quite young. But the graphic clearly says “in order to conceive them,” which is the major difference between adoption and third party reproduction (3PR).

Yes, money is exchanged in both situations — but one is (ideally) a worth-wile attempt to make the best of a bad situation for an already born child in need; the other deliberately contracts the creation of a child to fulfill the wants and needs of the parents.

Having many friends who have lovingly opened their hearts and homes to children in need, I understand that on the surface there can seem to be similarities between these two issues (money changes hands, children want to know where they came from, etc…), and I try to be sensitive to that.

I also try to be sensitive to those I know who have themselves or have loved ones who have used 3PR with only the best intentions in mind.

Nevertheless, the statistic above is real.

More and more children of 3PR are speaking out about the injustice and indignity of their very existence being the result of a business contract and these children deserve to have their voices heard.

Alana Newman, who is a child of 3PR, has done a good job of explaining this, as well:

More to come…

Finding Peace in the Storm

ChelseaSuffering1 Comment

The Florida Panhandle suffered the remnants of Hurricane Patricia all day yesterday. It quite literally did not stopped raining/storming for 24+ hours here in Pensacola.

This kind of weather is always good for reflecting on suffering.

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During a search for storm-related quotes to lift my spirits yesterday, I came across the one above attributed to Vincent Van Gogh that reminded me of something from one of my favorite modern spiritual authors:

In all suffering there is a germ of life and of the resurrection, because Jesus is there in person. -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching for and Maintaining Peace

In all people who suffer there is Jesus – on the Cross and Risen from the dead.

Christ crucified cries with us and shares in our sufferings — giving us comfort and strength. And Christ risen reminds us that suffering and death no longer have the final say, and there is still some joy to be found amid the struggle.

I love the way the late, great Fr. Richard Neuhaus put it: “as long as we are alive, we have all the life there is.” Whether we find ourselves terminally ill, permanently disabled, or facing some other permanent or transitory physical/emotion/spiritual hardship, we are never deprived of the beauty and goodness that life can bring.

It is not by fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our willingness to accept it, mature through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love. (Spe Salvi, 37)