IVF – Part Two
(Part One here)
“Do not be afraid
of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul…“? (Matthew: 10, 26-33)
It was in driving my car one day when I heard from the radio for the first time the words “fetal reduction.”? Wait a minute, what was that, that new phrase?? What did that mean?? I learned that it was designed in order to present lethal consequences to excess human embryos cultivated in vitro (which means, literally, in glass).? The process of IVF frequently results in making one multiply pregnant.? This is one of the most egregiously bad (and anticipated) consequences of the process.
Enter the doctor.? He describes at length the dangers to the mother with all of those growing babies if she continues to carry them.? He then projects hazards to the baby.? The suggestion is made that she “reduce” the pregnancy.? ?Exactly how do you reduce a pregnancy? ?Referred to as “fetal reduction” or “pregnancy reduction, or “selective reduction” by the doctors, the words are deadly masks to the uninformed.?? They are euphemisms for what is a pitiless procedure, as “choice” has been universally substituted for the word abortion.? Such babies are called “waste” babies, or “excess” babies, or “surplus” babies.? Doctors do not refer to the IVF process as abortion, but rather routinely use the word “reduction”, which is now standard language in the U.S. ?This, in my view, provides a shield over what really is happening.
Even so, it seems obvious that the determination to march to pregnancy proceeds, regardless of the potentiality of such a quagmire the mother now finds herself in, in spite of the ugly probability of “reduction.” “The whole business should have been short-circuited at the outset.? After all, the embryos are all her children!?? Some practitioners have in fact expressed concern that the parents should/must be informed of all the difficulties involved, physical, financial, and, yes, “ethical.”? (They came to this, no doubt, because of witnessing the subsequent trauma of participants.)? But are the facts good for business??
Does the mother – does the father – want to know the IVF details?? Truth is edifying; it also compels respect.? The process requires psychological metamorphosis on the part of the mother:? from frantically desiring one’s own child to destroying one’s own child for the sake of efficiency.? The Wall Street Journal referred to the new embryo as a “potential child” and notes that the decision to dispatch one or more of their own sons and daughters can require “intense soul-searching.” [i] Do I need to remind the reader that both living and condemned to death embryos have immortal souls, unique and beloved by God, the Creator, the author of all human life; yes, they are still babies.
But, societal culture has gradually learned to live side by side with abortion-on-demand up to and including the ninth month of pregnancy.? (No-the ban on partial birth abortions will not save one baby. “Abortionists simply moved to another macabre method of killing close-to-birth children.)? I pause here to mention that when this whole “my body, myself” mess began in the 1970’s feminists accused pro-life defenders of paranoia when we talked about the future and the slippery slope to late term abortions.? They asserted with considerable indignation they would never do such a thing!? What do you think we are? etc. etc.
Reduce — from six to three; from four to two; even from two to one.? We are talking about the meltdown of one’s own sons and daughters!? Most of these reductions are of twins or triplets, who, if allowed to live will do fine.? The Wall Street Journal describes the process as follows:? By means of the sonogram, the doctor examines the babies carefully to determine if there are defects of any kind.? (Comment: It makes it ever so much easier for the parents when the baby is not “perfect.”)? When nothing is found to be wrong with any of the fetuses, it becomes a question of “which is easiest to get to.”? The doctor drives a needle with potassium chloride into the chest of the babies to be discarded. ?”The fetus flails its arms and legs, then stops.”[ii] The woman gets off the table and goes home, anticipating the birth of the lucky survivor(s).? A few wipe a tear from their eye.?? Some cry.? But they do it anyway.? After all, they have viewed the babies on the sonograms.
Clinics appear to have extensive regulations regarding clean clinics, personnel, records, procedures, but not regarding the numbers of embryos to be implanted.? In an OP Ed column in the Washington Post (7/7/06), Michael Kinsley wrote that “if embryos are human beings with full human rights, fertility clinics are death camps – with a side order of cold-blooded eugenics.” [iii] As Kinsley put it, the process selects the best and destroys the rest.
Suppose you kill some, implant others, and they all die?? Now what do you do?? By the way, fertility drugs also produce multiple pregnancies.? All of this, as Cardinal (now Pope) Ratzinger stated in 1987 is part of the “unforeseeable circumstances.”? The Roman Catholic Church is always on to and ahead of the evil.? One woman gave birth to triplets, reduced by 3, “because there was no way we were going to fit six babies into our car – the logistics of the thing hit me.” [iv]
So goes contemporary childbearing.? One wonders how reducing mothers intend to explain the circumstances of these births and deaths to their children later in life.? Another generation might be aghast at what we have become.? Pope John Paul II wrote that we are in “an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake.” [v] That same Pope stated emphatically that “The power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone.” [vi] We certainly have one colossal mess on our hands, and we have made considerable progress on the slippery slope when you consider IVF and its consequences.
[i] Wall Street Journal, ibid
[iii] Life Site News: 7/21/06;? columnist Michael Kinsley on IVF clinics
[iv] Wall Street Journal, ibid
[v] Gospel of Life, encyclical, 1995
[vi] Veritatis Splendor, encyclical, 1993, #35