Blog Template Theology of the Body: Death by Selection

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Death by Selection

"For thousands of couples suffering from infertility, the advances in reproductive health have given many new hope--and, in some cases, new life. However, with progress comes the burden of ethical responsibility--a burden many in the field seem unwilling to shoulder. This weekend, The Washington Post published an emotionally-charged article, "Too Much to Carry," that did an admirable job portraying the wave of selective reduction that often accompanies modern fertility treatments.

Doing her best to put a human face on the inhumane procedure, author Liza Mundy visited the offices of Dr. Mark Evans to observe the dark side of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for herself. The experience, as she tells it, was an eye-opening one. If IVF were as simple as fertilizing one egg with one sperm, the process would be less troubling. Yet for several of these at-risk women, doctors insist that to make (multiple IVF) pregnancies more "viable" there must be less competition in the womb. This often means that "excess embryos" are created, implanted in the womb, and then destroyed after tests are performed to determine which of the fetuses are healthiest. In some instances, Mundy was present for the "reductions" and describes the horror of seeing tiny lives, once active on the ultrasound screen, quickly silenced by a lethal injection to the heart.

The "selection process" is also used to single out small victims that doctors suspect have Down syndrome or other maladies, which, 85% of the time is used to justify an abortion. In one visit, Mundy describes the patient crying, "Oh, my gosh, I can really see it! I can see the fingers!" and then sobbing uncontrollably as the small baby goes still. Another woman says, "It's killing me that we're going to do this. I never thought I would feel that... I'm vehemently pro-choice." Yet the sight of seeing the needle, as one nurse puts it, "chasing the babies" who try to get away, overwhelms mothers. This same nurse, a new mom herself, has trouble with the procedure because she feels like they are "playing God." "Some of these people tried to get pregnant...and prayed to God. And now that they're pregnant, they're telling God, 'You gave me too many.'"

Rather than using IVF as an end to create life, the process is all too often a means that destroys it. This article serves as a timely call to conscience in an era when couples consider it a "right" to have children but seek freedom from the unintended consequences."

More on point here. HT Family Research Council.
See also Al Mohler's excellent post. Warning: not for the faint.

For the record, the Church forbids IVF as morally unacceptable for several reasons. First, the procedures entail the dissociation of husband and wife in the procreative act, which is properly an expression of their marital union. The dissociation of the sexual act from the procreative act undermines the dignity of the marital union as mutual self-gift. Such "procreation" is deprived of its beauty and distorts God's intentions for marriage. Furthermore, the life and identity of the embryonic children who are produced through IVF are entrusted to the power of doctors and biologists. This establishes the domination of technology- rather than the care of loving parents- over embryonic babies. The act of IVF affirms a wrong idea of children as a "right" or "entitlement" to be engineered rather than as a precious *gift* to be received from God. Finally, as we see here, the most obvious problem with IVF procedures is that they are typically abortive.