IVF:? Part Three
(Part Two here)
“The Lord called me from birth:
from my mother’s womb
he gave me my name.”? (Isaiah 49: 1-6)
What’s the big deal? Have we not advanced to the point of making babies in lab dishes, so everyone can be a proud parent? I recall reading one woman’s indignation, demanding to know why the Pope did not want her to have a baby. You know some alert theologian could have jumped in at that time and presented the rock-bottom truth of our faith that, evil may not be done, even to secure some perceived good.
Some physicians have, as noted above, ethical concerns about all of this and have decided not to implant more than four embryos. This would supposedly reduce the risk of having to abort so many. “Four is the limit recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine for women aged 35 to 40, although it will accept five for women older than that.”[i] Other doctors wonder if the woman has the right to expose babies in multiple pregnancies to future medical problems (and the studies continue to mount from all over the world about fetal abnormalities from IVF: birth defects, mental retardation, behavior disorders, etc.) What a high degree of “ethics” by the society above – don’t kill more than four! As opposed to “moral”, “ethical” is a nice semantic term you can take all over the place. Others express “distaste” about “reducing;” read that: uneasy.
How in the world did we get here? We got here because God’s authority continues to be completely rejected. There is societal indifference to what goes on, a disinterest in anything which does not directly affect me and my lifestyle. Is IVF more nuclear fall-out from abortion? That is one answer but incomplete; it is not the whole story. The key element was synthetic birth prevention. And, contrary to the ardent feminist denial of the facts, from the outset abortion became “backup contraception”. I remember the 60’s. I remember the triumph when the birth control pill was introduced to the world. The “women’s liberation” movement’s first plank then and now is equality is impossible without abortion. With the pill, they were jubilant. The pill would release forever a woman’s responsibility for the conception and nurturing of offspring.
Once procreation was separated from the conjugal act, the whole bowl of wax began to unfold. Pandora’s Box was shattered, freeing the evils that would bedevil mankind. Late-term pregnancy abortions gradually were accepted and are now de rigueur in certain clinics. With IVF we have arrived in contemporary America and the new world order at, to name a few: “make your own baby”, including “fetal reduction,” delayed motherhood, surrogate mothering, embryo transfer (moved embryo from one women to another), storage problems of half a million frozen embryos (90% of which do not survive their ice age,) “extra” embryos to be harvested as extra body parts; insurance coverage in many states; support groups for mothers who reduce; designer children; sex selection of children (banned in some countries;) “money-back” guarantees (frowned on by some meds); recruiters on college campuses for eggs/sperm donors (some provide photos of donors’ eyes, ears, etc., not to omit glowing intellectual and medical histories;) anonymous (drive-by) sperm donors; sperm banks; egg banks; egg donor ads, running regularly in daily newspapers, and on the Internet (“Apply on line to become an egg donor.”); the Yellow Pages; donor marketing agencies; serious medical complications from “hyper-stimulation” of ovaries to secure eggs; screening of embryos to avoid genetic hazards; cloning; cloning of human beings with other species, and on and on ad infinitum. By the by, “donors” are usually paid handsomely for selling their bodily wares. Some profess to do this for altruistic motives, to assist the childless. However, the very real probability that embryos will die or be eliminated makes that assertion of nobility something of an oxymoron.
Less I be accused of exaggeration, the above are facts gleaned from an enormous supply of material on the whole subject of IVF. At one library I pulled up relevant book lists; there were 39 under the heading of IVF. The internet is endless in its offerings of such material. Newspapers, journals are getting into this curious and controversial story, so fraught with extremes – sensationalism at its most provocative. A sub-plot showed up recently on the television series E.R., when several children gathered to meet their slightly abashed doctor “father”. Some of the “diaries,” books/journals describing a woman’s complete IVF experience, are often crude, discouraging the reader from pursuing the story line. To draw quotes from these would render their authors more attention.
Crudity is so common in our country we barely notice the daily bombardment and degradation. Subjects unmentionable are discussed casually on television at any hour. Disrobing has become an art form. In a doctor’s office recently, I saw the image of a full-term, pregnant, nude woman displayed on the cover of Newsweek (12/10/07). It was so blatantly bad–this image, casually available on the clinic coffee table. Such presentations utterly deprive women of any dignity whatsoever, pregnancy a public exposure of the most prurient type. There will be no reaction from our jaded culture. (Some maternity stores this season were displaying scanty bathing suits for advanced pregnancy.) To the more morally alert, it is just one more outrage, an execrable example of depraved media. It reminds you of the judge in the parable who “respected neither God nor man.” The result: We are all stricken with some kind of mental paralysis as we try to go about living in trendy America. We are numb. This is a kind of protective shield. How many shocks a day can an individual stand? We can’t – we don’t — ask anymore, what is next? There is no refuge to escape the panoply.
After spending several weeks on this essay, and reading more about IVF and affiliated horrors than I imagined at the beginning, I have come to the conclusion expressed well by Judy Brown of American Life League, the entire process must be outlawed, by legislatures, and if there is any dignity, integrity left in our courts, there too. We have created a monster, fulfilling what Pope Benedict anticipated and feared when he wrote Donum Vitae. Thank God, the church is always ahead of the movement of societal cultures – The gift to us Roman Catholics as well as to the world. On February 1, 2008, Pope Benedict said the following: “When human beings in the weakest and most defenseless state of their existence are selected, aborted, killed or used as pure ?biological material,’ how can it be denied that they are no longer… ?someone but something.'”[ii] This is food for thought in our over-hurried world – a world according to John Paul II with an over emphasis on “efficiency.”
[iii] reported an internet site which
Where are we going? What is next? The Fort Worth Star Telegram “connects children born from the same eggs or sperm.” In other words, the searcher endeavors to learn how many half-brothers and sisters he has out there somewhere – and their common sperm donor. A “Donor Sibling Registry” was established in 2000; about 19,000 people posted personal details; About 4,700 matches were found. People, the article tells us, are startled by the looks of strange children at the park sand lot, who look so much like their own child. In one search it was discovered that a single donor had sired more than 100 kids. I leave it to the imagination of the reader to follow this news into the future… Obviously there is a yawning distance between adopting a newborn infant, and utilizing an anonymous egg/sperm. As Abraham responded to the rich man seeking help from the poor Lazarus, between us there is a great chasm, so that we cannot cross over to your side.
In the last few months I have been removing stones from one of the flower gardens here in New England – stones tossed there by the builder, which prevent any flowers from taking real root. There are also roots to detach. It is hard work, though satisfying, but not complete because new dirt has to be inserted in the gaping holes. It reminds me of the indescribable lies, distortions and omissions thrown at our whole culture, the evils now so pronounced as to make it impossible for most to accept the truth about God and life. The garden is full of rocks, with long-running roots. It has been made infertile and must be cleansed and then replanted. Christ warned us that once evil is dismissed, care must be taken lest new and worse devils enter in. What is next?
The paucity of truth! What is it? “I AM the way, the truth and the life” says the Lord. American Heritage defines truth as “conformity to knowledge, fact or actuality; veracity.” The media appears to define truth through interviews (e.g., opinion); varied reports from random sources and those which are politically correct. Thus the opportunity for truth has been circumscribed. As evidenced by the prominence of IVF acceptance, the anti-Christ forces are masters of distortion. Dr. Leon Kass describes present day scientism as “soul-less”, which he says is an effort to reduce all questions of human life to the “purely material.”[iv]
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death!
[i] Wall Street Journal, ibid
[ii] Life Site News: from Catholic Online International News
[iii] Fort Worth Star Telegram, 3/23/08
[iv] Life Site News; 11/7/07, from a Manhattan Institute lecture