IVF Part 1: “We are the offspring of God..” (Acts: 17:29)
Fyodor Dostoevsky, as I recall, once wrote people are secretly gladdened at news of tragedies which take large numbers of human lives.? Such a thought would be shocking to contemplate were it not for the almost universal, preoccupation by population planners in our world to systematically control the numbers being born, by any method of prevention, no matter how repugnant.? The success of this objective has been positively mind-numbing. In the United States alone we are responsible for over 50 million, surgically dispatched babies.? (This does not include countless babies erased by various methods of contraception.)? To pro-life people such statistics are detestable — bald, horrifying abortion numbers–numbers ever so carefully tallied. To us, each singular abortion is a tragedy. ?This mental framework emanates from a society that boasts of what civilized progress we have made over earlier generations.? (The dimensions of birth reduction, worldwide, are factually reported in Mark Steyn’s excellent book, “America Alone.”)
In a rather short period of time we have progressed to a brand new brand of statistic, of 5.7 million embryonic children, who have died as a result of In Vitro Fertilization.[i] Eighty-five percent of transferred embryos (to mother’s womb) do not survive until birth. [ii] The Center for Disease Control reports that in 1999 there were 170,000 embryo deaths; that year, 21,501 (ART) children were born.? Approximately 74% of ART methods are by IVF.[iii] (Note: ART stands for “Assisted Reproductive Technology) Furthermore, over 400,000 human embryos are frozen in the U.S. alone.[iv] Thus we have developed a new form of life extinction — one that is predicted to lead to “screening” of human embryos for genetic disorders. ?This would be the ultimate in refined killing.
A little background of this movement: there has been a significant shift from artificial insemination methods of child conception to IVF.? Since about 1978 the numbers of IVF babies has shown a startling increase.? In addition to the hospitals involved in this substitute for God-ordained procreative unity, since 2005, about 430 clinics are operating fertility/IVF centers in the U.S. [v] (It should be noted that such numbers change constantly; not all information is reported to the CDC.)
The thing is you have to be wanted before you can join the human family.? This is a hard case to make when you’re that small.? Abortion is about unwanted babies, considered by their own mothers and fathers to be enemies to their welfare in one way or another.? It is remarkable the number of people who believe that babies are unwelcome impediments on the path to their societal well being.? It is reported that Isaac Asinov voiced his opinion that, after all, “Babies are the enemies of the human race.” [vi] One of my most respected mentors used to comment that feminists have never forgiven God for making women susceptible to pregnancy.? Feminist Jeffner Allen boasted “I am endangered by motherhood.? In evacuation from motherhood I claim my life, body, world, as an end in itself!” [vii]
Fast forward to the other hand, and the subject of this essay, where there is a whole slew of women who very much want to have a baby, who have tried varied paths to conception, professing their desperation to conceive a child.?? This becomes their preoccupation, as conception remains out of their reach.? Infertility is a very serious problem for about 6 million sterile couples, the causes of which are manifold, including physical abnormalities and disease.? And, “The most common cause of infertility in a woman is damaged or blocked fallopian tubes that prevent the egg and sperm from uniting.? Sexually transmitted diseases are a major cause of tubal scarring and blockage.”[viii] Whatever the cause of infertility, there is no denying that deep rooted, God-endowed longing to have, to nurture and to raise a child.? It should be noted, however, that this worthy intention is frequently manifested later in life, after meticulous methods have been utilized to ensure babies do not appear, to a time when she/they are ready.?? The house is there; the career in place, but the biological clock continues to tick.? Minds change over the years.?? Whatever preceded the decision for such troubled women to determinedly pursue conception of a child, this effort is about what is close to home, to the families therein, and the literal crying need of so many women to populate their own homes.
At the outset we need to assert that no one has a right to a child.? Children are a gift from the Lord, the Creator of all human life.? “A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature.? The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, ?the supreme gift’ and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents.” [ix] In this ever so materialistic culture, it is not difficult to see how children can be regarded as possessions, to be gathered or discarded at will.? The other quotable quote that fits this discussion is from my own esteemed mother. “Children are only on loan to you from God.”? Her own children, on loan, numbered 12.
What is IVF? In Vitro Fertilization begins by hormone treatments to the woman.? These drugs force her ovaries to produce more than one egg at a time (referred to as “super-ovulation.”)? This is not good for the woman’s reproductive system, which is designed to produce one or two mature eggs a month.? Moving right along, the eggs are collected, and then combined with the sperm in a Petri dish.? (Yes, human embryos can now be “created” in test tubes.)? Sperm must, of course, be “secured” for this process.? “These tiny new humans are carefully nourished in lab cultures and then placed in the woman’s body with the anticipation that at least one of the embryos will implant in the uterus and develop. [x]
Donum Vitae cautions us that mankind has developed “new powers, with unforeseeable consequences, over human life, its very beginning, and in its first stages.? Various procedures now make it possible to intervene not only in order to assist but also to dominate the processes of procreation.” [xi] This very controversial process of IVF and ET (embryo transfer) “is brought about outside the bodies of the couple through actions of third parties whose competence and technical activity determine the success of the procedure.”[xii] As the process becomes more refined it may indeed evoke a certain pride of ownership for such technicians over new human beings, and even contempt for the natural way of transmitting life.? After all, many of them believe they can control the process better than the old fashioned way.? In other words, procreation is cavalierly separated from the union of husband and wife; and would likely take on proprietary control by technicians.? (Thus my title: “In Vitro Breeding”) This is clearly an involved path to pregnancy requiring repeated appointments to IVF clinics – and lots of money.? ?Of these efforts ten to fifteen percent of IVF’s succeed.? The average cost is $12,400 for one cycle. ?(In a way the poor are protected, because it is simply impossible for them to meet the huge expenses.)
Such procedures are rife with problems (such as ectopic pregnancy).? The most egregious is that the women become “multiply pregnant” with anywhere from two to ten embryos.? Some doctors will not implant more than four or five.? About 75% of triplets are the result of fertility drugs or in-vitro fertilization; 90% of quadruplets are conceived the same way.[xiii] Why put so many embryos in the woman?? Because of the odds:? optimal results come from multiple implants — particularly with older women.? ?There is tremendous pressure from the “parents” to implant numerous embryos in the hope for success.? “…a 1987 study in the United States’ largest IVF center in Norfolk, Virginia, concluded that only five percent of 4,500 embryos survived to birth.” [xiv] What happened to the others?? You see the difficulty.? The problem now arises as to what to do??? So many babies -what to do???
[i] Life Site News, 9/9/05; from “Fertility and Sterility,” Yale School of Medicine; Vol. 84, #2 325-530, issue 8/05
[ii] LSN, ibid, 9/9/05
[iii] Life Site News, 11/22/02, government statistic for 1999
[iv] LSN, 5/8/03; study by David Hoffman, Fertility & Sterility, Vol. 79, Issue 5, 5/03
[v] Life Site News, 5/8/03
[vi] Google.com search:? The Concise Colombia Dictionary of Quotations; also Scholar Island
[vii] New Oxford Review, Oct. 2007, pg. 24; from an article by Jim Coop
[viii] Geoffrey Sher, Virginia Marriage Davis & Jean Stoess,authors of: “In Vitro Fertilization: The Art of Making Babies”
[ix] Donum Vitae, Roman Catholic Church instruction; 1987, pg 34, #8; by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benefict XVI
[x] Sources for this information may be found on a multitude of Internet sites, and a pamphlet from American Life League; also Brian Clowes excellent book, “The Facts of Life”
[xi] Donum Vitae, Roman Catholic Church, 1987, No. 1, pg. 5
[xii] Donum Vitae, ibid, No. 5, pg. 30
[xiii] Statistics from Wall Street Journal, 11/21/97, comprehensive article by Barbara Carton
[xiv] Brian Clowes, ibid; page 234