Invitro Fertilization Raises Multiple Moral Issues

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, and reported in the nation’s major newspapers, there are fewer multiple births from test-tube pregnancies. The cited reason for this decline is that fewer embryos are being implanted in the wombs of women hoping to have a baby.

Moral Questions of IVF

The whole issue of invitro fertilization raises a host of moral questions. In addition to the fundamental problem that the invitro technique takes the marital union out of the picture and widens the gap already existing between sex and reproduction, parents, doctors and researchers must face the issue of just what is a human embryo.

To a pro-lifer and to a person who knows how to think, an embryo is a very small complete human being. But clearly a vast majority of people have been conditioned to believe that the embryo is somehow a different entity from a fetus and again a different entity from a human being.

One can understand why men and women who are anxious to become parents would be willing to gloss over the thorny question of what is an embryo and what is its status, but the doctors and researchers should have no doubts at all.

Even once they have rationalized the extraction of eggs and the laboratory fertilization of the eggs to create the embryos, they must be bothered by the unique nature of the entity they now have in a petri dish. Sometimes they implant all of the embryos in the womb so that they do not have to figure out how to handle any left over embryos. Sometimes they implant a few and freeze the rest. But what happens to those if the parents should decide they don’t need any more children?

In this latest article from the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers are pleased to announce that their techniques are working so well that they only need to implant a few embryos in an attempt to produce a full term baby. But there is no mention of how many eggs are being fertilized. How many are being trashed? And how many are still being frozen for future use or disposal?

Silence from the Pulpit

Once science starts fooling around too much with matters that are properly God’s –- like creating life -– they inevitably confront grave moral issues. Unfortunately most laymen and far too many scientists do not understand the ramifications of manipulating life.

With abortion, no matter what the rhetoric, most people do really know that it involves the killing of an unborn baby. They might find ways to rationalize it, but, particularly since the age of ultrasound, abortion is a pretty cut and dried issue. Not so with invitro fertilization.

And many couples go that route thinking it is a legitimate way to fulfill their deep desire to be parents. Many good Christians and Catholics have resorted to invitro fertilization not realizing that the procedure is against Church teaching.

How would they have learned what the church teaches on the subject? Like the other areas of church teaching that involve sex and reproduction, in vitro fertilization is not talked about from the pulpit or in discussion groups. It is an area that needs serious attention before any further erosion of the whole concept of marriage and family.

Judges with Too Much Influence

Much of that erosion is a direct result of court rulings that fly in the face of the laws of nature, of religious tradition and of the will of the people. We are currently living in an era where judges have an unreasonable amount of power.

This week the Chicago Sun-Times is featuring the 100 most powerful women in Chicago. Wednesday’s crop of powerful women were from the world of law. We were sorry, but not surprised to see Diana Wood and Ilana Rovner among the top ten women in law.

Wood and Rovner are two of the three judge panel which ruled against Scheidler in the NOW v. Scheidler appeal in 1999 and who have now given credence to Fay Clayton’s theory that the Supreme Court might not have meant to give a victory to the pro-lifers in NOW v. Scheidler.

It was, however, mildly gratifying that Fay Clayton did not make the cut. Although she has frequently been featured as an influential woman lawyer, she didn’t make the top ten.

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