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Surrogacy, selfishness, and IVF

This appalling story shows just some of the things that can happen as a result of IVF. Here are just a few features. Some overlap with each other.

--"Parents" who hire another woman to bear "their" baby, an IVF embryo, though it turns out that the supposed biological mother actually isn't the baby's mother at all, because they used an egg donor.

--The complete post-modernization of the very concept of parenthood.

--"Parents" who at first think of themselves as the child's parents, then, when it turns out the child is imperfect, want the child killed, then, when they can't succeed in getting the child killed, decide they do want to be regarded as her parents, but only so that they can abandon her to the state of Connecticut and no longer be her parents, then, when the birth mother runs away to a state where she will be the child's mother at birth, sue for parental rights for who-knows-what reason, then in the end decide not to challenge the baby's adoption by yet a third set of people provided that they can have occasional reports on her progress. It's make-it-up-as-you-go-along parenthood.

--Direct coercion upon the surrogate to try to get her to have an abortion, followed by attempted bribery when coercion doesn't work.

There are some Christians, mostly among us Protestants, who have accepted IVF as a legitimate way to bring children into the world. I submit that the nightmarish nature of this story should serve as a clue to the contrary--that deliberately bringing a child into existence by IVF is an injustice to the child.

First of all, to answer a possible objection: Some might argue that you cannot do an injustice to a child by the way in which you bring the child into existence, for the child doesn't exist ahead of time to be treated unjustly. But this is by no means obvious. Suppose that genetic engineering of sperm and eggs were possible so that various disabilities in a child conceived by means of those gametes could be induced. Suppose that you deliberately genetically engineered gametes in such a way that a child conceived using them would be permanently paralyzed and then used them to bring an embryo into existence. It seems obvious that this deliberate manipulation so as to bring a child into being who is severely disabled is a wrong to the child thus conceived, even though the child would not have existed had the process not taken place. In other words, it is possible to wrong a child by the way in which you conceive the child.

In IVF, technicians deliberately create a child outside its normal environment (its mother's womb), separated from its mother. IVF involves the deliberate making of a child by a technological act (bringing together gametes in the lab) carried out by unrelated parties, rather than the begetting of a child in an act of love between the mother and father. The child thus made, not begotten, is especially vulnerable from the outset. He can be evaluated, accepted or rejected, frozen, thawed, implanted or deliberately destroyed, given or sold. (I mean the word "sold" quite literally. See here.) And his deliberate rejection and destruction is extremely easy. It requires no physical trauma to anyone else. No one else, no mother (for example) needs to have the slightest opportunity to bond with him physically or emotionally before he is clinically rejected and destroyed. The embryo thus conceived is utterly vulnerable as he would never be in a natural situation, stripped even of the protection of his mother's body or hormonal connections to him, and not having yet developed the human appearance that might attract others to him.

By separating the conception of a child from the love of the mother and father, we de facto make the child into a product rather than a gift. Note that this is not merely a matter of our intention. The child conceived in vitro automatically is especially vulnerable to the evaluations and choices of adults in a way that a child conceived in vivo is not, regardless of whether or not the parents who so conceive the child are nice people or actually treat the child well or not.

In the story here, there is not the slightest doubt that, if the baby's disabilities could have been discerned when she was an embryo prior to implantation, she would have gone into the bio-incinerator. She obtained mercy only because she was implanted in a surrogate who would not reject her later. But this introduced yet a new set of complications.

IVF also raises from the very outset, in a special way that natural conception does not and cannot, the possibility of separating different meanings of "mother." Only through IVF can we separate the biological mother easily and readily from the gestational mother, who can be a surrogate. In the story above, there was yet a further separation, made possible by IVF. The actual biological mother was an egg donor who had gone her way and knew nothing of the fate of any child conceived with her eggs, considering herself to have no further maternal duties to them. One of the "mothers" vying for legal recognition was actually merely the female member of a couple who paid money and contracted to have the child conceived. She had neither a biological nor a gestational connection to the baby, merely the connection of a contract by which she was "intended" to be the mother.

Surrogacy attempts to define parenthood by contract, as in this case. The contracting "mother" was one party in an agreement with the gestational mother, and that agreement declared, among other things, that the gestational mother would kill the child by abortion if it turned out to have serious disabilities. When the gestational mother balked at this, the contracting "parents" (of whom only the man was an actual biological parent) attempted to force the matter by threatening to sue the impoverished surrogate, if she refused to abort, for the monthly fees they had already paid. (The lawyer's letter to this effect is just charming.) Even though that didn't work, one gathers from the story that the contract was at an end when the surrogate refused to abort. She wasn't going to receive any more support during the pregnancy. In Connecticut, the law recognizes surrogacy contracts and would have required the contracting "parents" to be declared the child's legal parents at birth, despite the fact that an egg donor was used. This would then have permitted them to abandon the baby without penalty under a "safe haven" law to the mercies of the Connecticut child welfare system. This is precisely what they intended to do after deciding that they wished to reject the baby. The surrogate (who still had no money) then moved to Michigan, where she would be the child's legal mother at birth. The charming "parents," for reasons best known to themselves, tried to bring a further suit at that point to have their names on the baby's birth certificate, but eventually they gave this up and graciously allowed the "defective" baby girl whom they had wanted killed to be adopted by a family who would love her and care for her.

Let's get this clear: Such things should not be possible. It is the unnatural practice of conceiving children technologically in a laboratory that has turned them into products and that has made such scenarios not only possible but actual.

We ought, therefore, to look back and ask where we went wrong.

Comments (112)

I agree with you, but I'm curious: The most common objection I hear from people I know who are pro-life is that an impotent couple who wants a child can get the embryo implanted in herself. I maintain that it's wrong, but the recourse I fall back into is natural law theory when asked to explain (which is perfectly fine, but in my experience not that convincing). So are there any more concrete reasons to explain why that's wrong?

Right on, Lydia. What an unspeakable horror-show of human depravity.

MarcAnthony, Lydia's post is pretty loaded with the kinds of concrete reasons that people might find more convincing than abstract natural law theory. If a couple is pro-life, that's fine, but if they think that being pro-life is simply a question of maximizing the number of pregnancies in the world at whatever cost and in whatever way we can imagine, then they're not grappling with the issues seriously at all and should be told as much. The practical consequences of reducing a child to an object of the will can be seen everywhere, and the most practical approach to dealing with a person unconvinced by theory is to show, rather than demonstrate, those consequences. That is, I think, what Lydia does so well when she dissects cases such as this one.

I'd also add that the person who asks how homosexual "marriages" will affect them or their families can be shown the Lisa Miller case and asked to consider for themselves what the practical consequences might be of severing, as a matter of fundamental legal principle, the concept of paternity from the concept of family. People who do not respond to abstract arguments can be invited to explain what, exactly, they find wrong with the handling of the Miller case, or what, exactly, they find wrong with the behavior of these reprobates in CT. Ultimately it's always a matter of final premises, but some people have to be led backward, as it were, to the general case from the actual case.

I guess it's sort of a "want an inch, take a mile" thing. You can't have IVF "only" in certain circumstances because now the cat has been let out of the bag.

MarcAnthony, it's true that IVF does not always involve surrogacy. However, it _always_ involves the separation of various aspects of procreation. For example, it always involves separating the child from its mother at conception and separating conception from sex. It always involves making a child in the lab. There are many practices that naturally arise from this--for example, pre-implantation genetic screening. Only the desired embryos are implanted. Others, found to have defects or undesired properties, are incinerated.

Similarly, the labs routinely make multiple embryos--more than are actually wanted. This is because some will die in the process. These are just cannon fodder. The word that is usually used when multiple embryos are placed in the woman's womb, for the embryo that implants, is "takes." It is used in the article above. In this story, a modest two were placed in the womb, and one of them "took." Notice the casual language here. What this means is that the other one is definitely known to have died, but no one mourns. Sometimes as many as three are placed in the womb at once, and there is then consternation if all three "take," because bearing triplets is quite a challenge. Doctors will then pressure the woman to abort one or more, a process known as "selective reduction."

If ten embryos are made and only two or three are used for the couple to get the desired baby or babies, there are then seven "extras." These "extras" present a conundrum. They are kept cryo-stored while the parents decide what to do with them. In the end, the parents may decide to donate them to be used for research, may order that they be destroyed, or may give them up for adoption, though only a percentage will survive the process of defrosting and attempted implantation.

While it would be in theory possible for a married couple to tiptoe past all of these landmines--to conceive only with their own eggs and sperm, to insist that no embryos be pre-screened, to insist that only as many be made in the lab as they will attempt to implant, to attempt to implant all of them in the womb of the biological mother, to recognize the death of any embryos that don't "take," to attempt to implant only one at a time so as not to carry the additional risks to mother or children of bearing twins or triplets, and so forth--the couple should nonetheless realize that the separation between conception and parental intercourse that makes all these decisions _possible_ and _necessary_ is a fundamental problem.

No parents should have embryos conceived outside of the womb whom they have to decide whether to cryo-preserve or destroy! Why are these "choices" even available to them? How did they get put into this strange position where they have to run an obstacle course in order to avoid destroying and/or personally devaluing their own children? They got put into that position by having their babies made in the lab, that's how. Which directs us back to the objectification involved in the very act of making babies in the lab.

If a couple is pro-life, that's fine, but if they think that being pro-life is simply a question of maximizing the number of pregnancies in the world at whatever cost and in whatever way we can imagine, then they're not grappling with the issues seriously at all and should be told as much.

Most people don't grapple with issues. They arrive at their beliefs intuitively with the occasional random spasm of logic. You can tell them what they're doing and they just won't listen to you because their gut instinct makes them feel good. It's heartless to tell a rape victim she must bear an unwanted child and ruin her figure, even if the natural law makes it quite clear that if she goes to planned parenthood or pulls a DIY attempt in her home she is a murderer deserving of the penalties befitting a murderer.

Another idea that I wish people could get firmly into their minds is the idea of conceiving a child in love. For a child to be conceived by the acts of strangers in a lab is not for the child to be conceived _in_ love, in the act between the parents that most greatly expresses their union. I think there is some level at which some people know this. We need to restore the sense of beauty surrounding the conception of a child, the sense that the child is the outworking of the love between the mother and father. To put it bluntly, when a husband and wife think about the time when their child was conceived and where their baby came from, they shouldn't think of the clinical process of donating eggs and sperm or imagine lab technicians putting gametes together in a dish--a process at which the mother and father were not even present.

It may be that this way of restating the anti-IVF position, especially if the audience consists of people who already have some sense of natural familial relationships, marriage, and parenthood, will touch a chord in someone's mind.

It's remarkable how closely Lydia recapitulates the Catechism:

2377 ... The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."

Rock on, Catechism. :-)

On this issue, I have gone through pretty much exactly the process that Sage describes above. There was a time many years ago when I believed that IVF was a technology that could be abused but was not per se wrong to use. I have reasoned backwards from the treatment of children thus conceived to question the nature of the act of IVF in itself and come to the conclusion that the Catholic position on this one is correct, even though I'm not Catholic.

Most people don't grapple with issues. They arrive at their beliefs intuitively with the occasional random spasm of logic. You can tell them what they're doing and they just won't listen to you because their gut instinct makes them feel good.

Well sure, but I don't see why people should be allowed to just cruise along without ever having it pointed out to them that they aren't confronting moral reality, simply because they aren't inclined to do so on their own. Presenting it as a choice between heartlessly shouting "MURDERER!!" on one hand, and just saying nothing on the other, is a false dichotomy. It sounds pretty much exactly like a lame attempt to justify abetting grave evil.

On a practical level, does anyone know of a moral solution to the problem of supernumerary embryos already in existence which the bio parents don't want to carry to birth? Should they just stay frozen forever? Be given up for some sort of adoption?

Lydia, you are sooooo right. People should reflect on and have a much more lively sense of the beautiful in the way a child comes to be _within_ the act of conjugal love. This is what makes the Biblical description so important: "two shall become one flesh": in first instance the parents become one in the passing, imperfect sense of the conjugal act itself, but then the two become lastingly united in the flesh of their child. And this physical unity is a visible manifestation of the invisible unity of love: love of husband and wife for the other, a love that is essentially permanent and unconditional, and thus giving rise to a permanent new person to love and be loved by unconditionally. Which is all to say that marriage is essentially a vocation of love, between spouses and handing down that self-same love as a family heritage to the next generation by the very nature of marital love.

IVF, though, breaks apart the natural unity, destroys the unitary meaning of love expressed physically being both personal and fruitful in carrying on love. By involving other parties whose services are contracted, the child comes to be not by love but by contract, by purchase. It is inevitable that the parents who engage in this do so with _at least a little_ bit of mercenary spirit - "that child we paid good money to get" - because the contract itself is in fact mercenary. The lab doctor's act is not a pure act of love of persons, it is a business, professional choice. But even if the biological parents were themselves the doctor and lab technicians (theoretically possible, I suppose), it would still be true that the IVF operation would produce a child not by the physical union of the husband and wife in the conjugal act, so it would depart from the meaning of "two become one flesh" that grounds true human reproductive nature.

Thanks much, Tony.

Jane, I do think that embryo adoption (by couples) can very likely be morally defended, given that the child already exists. But IVF should be banned, legally, so that we have no more children being brought into existence in this way. It should never have happened in the first place. And there needs to be a way to separate embryo adoption from the creation of the embryo. It would just be deliberate surrogacy, plain and simple, to create the embryo by IVF with the _intention_ that it will be "adopted" by another couple. If embryo adoption is to be defended, it must take place only where there is no slightest hint that the adopting couple was complicit in the creation of the embryo by IVF initially. As in the case of regular adoption, it is wrong deliberately to set up an adoption scenario as a condition of conception ("I will conceive this child so that you may raise it"), but it is not wrong to adopt a child already in existence.

That, at any rate, is the conclusion I've come to after thought. My own prediction is that the RC Church will never make a definite statement for or against ex post facto embryo adoption because a) if they declared that the embryos must be allowed to die, this could be taken as a devaluing of the humanity of the embryos, but b) if they endorse embryo adoption it might be used as an endorsement of surrogacy generally.

Frankly here we see the disaster of DNA reductionism, when embraced fervently by the Right generally, and social conservatives in particular.

To identify the parents by genetic contribution and thus derogation of the woman actual bearing is a necessary consequence of treating DNA as the essence of an organism.

The social conservatives seem to have jumped into this bandwagon because they could firmly ground the sexual differences in DNA. They sought to boost their scientific credentials--always a weakness with conservatives-always mixing their values with science, ignoring that science is a very unreliable friend, nor are scientists their friends.

Frankly, the conservatives lack the self-confidence to say that this is that and that is wrong. They would go and find studies that seem to prove this and that but might be made to prove something else.

They have this hope that science would be a neutral enterprise but it is a vain hope. Science is done with some aim, all studies are done with some aim, and that aim might not be the aim of conservatives.

Jane, there are indeed people who, in a flight of generosity, offer themselves up as adoptive parents for these frozen embryos. Apparently, the Catholic Church for one is not ready to put an OK to that, tending instead to say that this would be wrong. The Congregation for Doctrine came out with a statement in 2008 which appeared to say that embryo adoption is immoral, and some people have proposed that it did so "definitively", so that debate (for Catholics) is closed. However, the language used was quite different from the sort of language normally used when the Church tries to say "debate is closed".

It has also been proposed, solely in order to allow human beings to be born who are otherwise condemned to destruction, that there could be a form of “prenatal adoption”. This proposal, praiseworthy with regard to the intention of respecting and defending human life, presents however various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above.

Unfortunately, when you go back to the prior problems referred to, it is virtually impossible to find which of those problems apply here: some of them _clearly_ have no bearing, and of the rest, there are some relatively obvious points of dissimilarity in the realities that make the application here not easily one of "problems not dissimilar".

The CDF goes on to suggest that there may be NO moral solution:

taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons”

I am glad that the CDF posed this in terms of "seems to be", because speaking philosophically there seems to be a very grave problem in proposing that there is such a thing as a TRUE moral paradox: a real situation where every course of action available is immoral. Typical moral philosophy does not generally admit the possibility of such a thing, as far as I know. Maybe I missed that class or something.

While I don't pretend to be a professional theologian, I think that when the CDF uses a phrase like "presents however various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above" it is presenting a tentative position, a first take on the question without laying down the definitive answer. The double negative form "not dissimilar" is one used by choice specifically when you are trying to NOT make strong, definite claims about likeness. Two things that are "not dissimilar" may be entirely similar, or they may be similar in some respects only, without being entirely dissimilar. But the latter type admits of different conclusions, depending on whether the pertinent principle is to be found in the similarities or in the dissimilarities. Thus, one way to read this passage is that it is pointing out "problems" that need to be considered, and if any solution is possible it will be possible only in reflection of those problems.

The US bishops seem to see the document the same way:

It clearly states that embryo adoption for the treatment of infertility is immoral, but adoption for adoption sake is left ambiguous to which the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops had this statement:

"Embryo adoption. The document does not reject the practice outright but warns of medical, psychological and legal problems associated with it and underscores the moral wrong of producing and freezing embryos in the first place."

That, at any rate, is the conclusion I've come to after thought. My own prediction is that the RC Church will never make a definite statement for or against ex post facto embryo adoption because a) if they declared that the embryos must be allowed to die, this could be taken as a devaluing of the humanity of the embryos, but b) if they endorse embryo adoption it might be used as an endorsement of surrogacy generally.

Lydia, I suspect that you are right for the foreseeable future. However, in the theoretical, or say in some yet to be envisioned future when the political world is ready to completely denounce surrogacy as a way of dealing with infertility, I think the Catholic Church is positioned to be able to come out and approve ex post facto adoption. When you can eliminate, one after another, the 6 or 8 other moral problems attached to indiscriminate surrogacy, the last one remaining for ex post facto adoption (that of simply invading a woman's womb with an outsider person not brought forth from her and her husband) will be accepted as bearing no greater moral problem than that of regular adoption. That's my guess. The "problem" is posed in this fashion:

These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' "right to become a father and a mother only through each other.""

However, viewed rightly even regular adoption presents the exact same problem, that of a couple _becoming_parents_ not through each other. In order to make that problem "stick" to regular adoption, though, you have to say that the couple doesn't really become the parents of the adopted child, which is clearly abhorrent and not obviously valid. Or you have to say that the adopting couple, in becoming parents not through each other violate the marriage covenant - something the Catholic Church cannot say because she has already definitively approved regular adoption. (It also seems to require the conclusion that Jesus's conception was a monstrous act against the nature of marriage.) If we accept that the adoptive couple in a regular adoption become parents truly, clearly the right way for this to happen is when both freely donate of themselves and to each other the gift to receive this child, and thus they DO ACTUALLY become parents through each other. In the same way, then, do a couple become parents through the generosity of each other in taking on an embryo to raise as their own.

Well sure, but I don't see why people should be allowed to just cruise along without ever having it pointed out to them that they aren't confronting moral reality, simply because they aren't inclined to do so on their own. Presenting it as a choice between heartlessly shouting "MURDERER!!" on one hand, and just saying nothing on the other, is a false dichotomy. It sounds pretty much exactly like a lame attempt to justify abetting grave evil.

Well, it is a false dichotomy the way you present it. I also made no reference to shouting or getting in said victim's face, so should I ask you why you are trying to demolish a strawman? Shall I conclude you think it is pretty heartless to state that being raped does not justify murdering an unborn child, or should I go a step further and conclude that you don't even believe that abortion is a species of premeditated murder at all? The only people I know who think it's heartless to stand by the no-exception principles are pro-choicers...

That, at any rate, is the conclusion I've come to after thought. My own prediction is that the RC Church will never make a definite statement for or against ex post facto embryo adoption because a) if they declared that the embryos must be allowed to die, this could be taken as a devaluing of the humanity of the embryos, but b) if they endorse embryo adoption it might be used as an endorsement of surrogacy generally.

If they are unequivocal in their denunciation of IVF, that might mitigate the latter issue. Part of the problem with abortion stems from the squeamishness of social conservatives to say simply state that abortion really is a form of murder. If the RCC would draw a line in the sand that leaves no room for hemming and hawing, I think it would be less susceptible to this form of attack.

Protestants tend to see this as a matter of driving people away from Jesus, which is the source of much of the frustration that I have and that Sage probably misunderstood. I think the RCC should lead the way here by making it clear that "Christians" who believe that murdering unborn children and creating unborn children like any other pharmaceutical product are not welcome in the body of Christ. If they have a place, then so should unrepentant murderers and people who harvest the kidneys of orphans to sell on the black market. Just because one is more dramatic and with a more mature victim doesn't mitigate the nature of the act.

Tony, the language about "becoming parents" may be best taken to refer to the deliberate use of IVF and/or surrogacy with the eggs and sperm of one or both of the spouses themselves. In that case, the biological mother or father, or both, deliberately become biological parents but do so through a technological process.

Gian, I wouldn't be inclined to put the problems here down so much to DNA reductionism, because at this point parents can contract to be the "intended parents" in surrogacy arrangements even when neither of them is genetically related to the child. In fact, egg donors and sperm donors, who do have a DNA relationship to the child, are in some states _definitely not_ regarded as having parental rights, but the "contractors," who merely paid to have the gametes brought together, or even just who purchased the embryo (for there is at least one clinic that openly buys and sells embryos) are regarded as the parents via contract.

Shall I conclude you think it is pretty heartless to state that being raped does not justify murdering an unborn child, or should I go a step further and conclude that you don't even believe that abortion is a species of premeditated murder at all?

I think we've just had a misunderstanding, Mike.

I think we've just had a misunderstanding, Mike.

I think so too. BTW, that comment was meant to be pretty sarcastic. I figured you more for a prolifer. I tend to shift to sarcastic, rhetorical responses when I feel like people are using strawmen on me.

If they are unequivocal in their denunciation of IVF, that might mitigate the latter issue. Part of the problem with abortion stems from the squeamishness of social conservatives to say simply state that abortion really is a form of murder. If the RCC would draw a line in the sand that leaves no room for hemming and hawing, I think it would be less susceptible to this form of attack.

Mike, the RCC does in fact unequivocally denounce IVF. Did so in Dignitas Personae. Furthermore, she unequivocally stated that the problems in IVF actually include abortion, of which she has spoken far more forthrightly than any other church.

While it is true that the RCC sometimes does not like to use the term "murder" for procured abortion indiscriminately, I think that this reticence goes away for when you limit the context to the abortionist specifically. Also, the documents of the Church (Evangelium Vitae, Catechism, Veritatis Splendor, Donum Vitae) do in fact make it clear that abortion is wrong in the very same way and for the same reason that murder is wrong - deliberate taking of innocent human life - that it is merely one class of deliberate taking of innocent life, of which other classes are premeditated murder, murder for hire, genocidal murder, etc.

The various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life. Apart from the fact that they are morally unacceptable, since they separate procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act, these techniques have a high rate of failure: not just failure in relation to fertilization but with regard to the subsequent development of the embryo, which is exposed to the risk of death, generally within a very short space of time. Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman's womb, and these so-called "spare embryos" are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple "biological material" to be freely disposed of.

...

The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

Mike, the RCC does in fact unequivocally denounce IVF. Did so in Dignitas Personae. Furthermore, she unequivocally stated that the problems in IVF actually include abortion, of which she has spoken far more forthrightly than any other church.

Yep, I knew that. I should have been clearer, I guess. What the RCC needs to do if it wants to adopt the issue of embryo adoption is ensure that it is unequivocal at every step about the IVF issue. Its support of the embryo adoption issue should be in the sense of adopting a child made an orphan through intrinsically immoral reasons (so the dense can understand that it is no more a backdoor support for IVF than adopting orphans means the RCC approves of any action which would create orphans).

do in fact make it clear that abortion is wrong in the very same way and for the same reason that murder is wrong - deliberate taking of innocent human life - that it is merely one class of deliberate taking of innocent life, of which other classes are premeditated murder, murder for hire, genocidal murder, etc.

Yet most prolifers don't support imprisoning the women who procure one, let alone trying them as murderers. I find it odd that the abortionist is singled out as the wicked force behind all of this rather than as the agent who executes the contracted murder. The way we often talk about the role of abortionists and their culpability damn near absolves the mothers of the culpability they possess as the contracting party in this scenario. I think that is wrong and does more to muddy the waters than most issues about abortion. However bad the abortionist is, he or she is still just the hired thug.

Right, how can the hired thug be more evil for doing (for money) what the hirer asks him to do than is the hirer who wants thuggery done and is willing to pay for it? The hirer is morally responsible BOTH for the thuggery itself and for involving a second person in evil who wouldn't be involved otherwise.

If, as the CDF document rightly acknowledges, frozen embryos are human persons and deserve the protections of law, it would seem that law, at least, should not endorse nor require leaving them frozen forever until they cease to be revivable (whenever that is). We wouldn't endorse that for innocent older persons in some science fiction scenario where they were placed into suspended animation.

Part of the problem with abortion stems from the squeamishness of social conservatives to say simply state that abortion really is a form of murder.

Oh, I'm not sure. In my opinion if we just said that outright we'd lose more people than we'd win. You need to be careful with the language you use if you want to convert souls.

One girl told me that her father probably would have pressured her mother into abortion if she got pregnant one more time (not married). Am I supposed to tell her that her father is a murderer?

Most legal scholars tend to agree that hard cases make bad law. You should easily be able to figure why this is the case given that most of the people who read this blog are smart enough to understand that making government decisions based on outliers is usually a bad idea. Government policy is usually a blunt instrument, and in some cases it makes sense to allow people to do a thing knowing that some of them will abuse their freedom because the benefits to allowing them to do so outweigh the negatives. Although the situation depicted in this post is highly unfortunate, it makes no sense to condemn IVF because some of the people who have used it do not behave like ideal parents. In fact, I do not even understand why Christians think that you have to physically conceive a child in order to love it. I actually find that idea somewhat offensive given that I have several adopted friends and know a couple that chose to utilize IVF. That said, I hope that politically active social conservatives come out and admit that they want to ban IVF and birth control pills because nothing makes us liberals laugh more social conservatives who hand us free political victories.

Although the situation depicted in this post is highly unfortunate, it makes no sense to condemn IVF because some of the people who have used it do not behave like ideal parents.

Well Roto, some* of the parents who use IVF do so with a mercenary attitude toward the child, treating the child as an object and commodity. And some* of doctors and lab people do so. And some* of the procedure plans are designed around killing a number of human embryos.

How about we start with condemning the IVF events that are described above? Can we get THAT much agreement? If not, then you are just playing games and pretending to engage in moral thoughtfulness, while engaging in conversational drive-by shooting.


* In this usage "some" works out the same as "all".

Roto, it's always better to take the time to educate yourself, rather than looking like a fool. Alas, too late for you.

Actually, it is *extremely common* for extra embryos to be made, *extremely common* for embryos to be screened for defects, and *extremely common* for the extra embryos to be stored and/or destroyed or given to research. Those practices are *not* outliers. Not by a long shot. In fact, it was because of the common difficulties with making "extras" that the one clinic, about which I linked a story in the main post, has taken to making *all* its embryos in large, single batches from a single batch of donor sperm and donor eggs and then selling the batches off in lots of just a few (three, or something like that) to individual couples. Because it's more efficient.

As for surrogacy legal disputes such as the one in the main post, they neither happen every time nor are they "outliers." They are a not-uncommon undercurrent to the entire surrogacy industry. Another now quite _common_ practice is for rich couples to hire a surrogate on the cheap in India. This is so common that the Indian government is trying to find ways to stop it or to stop various concomitants of it, such as abandoning the child in a legal no-man's-land if it is born with a birth defect. Wesley J. Smith recently had a story about a homosexual couple, one of whom was the biological father (by sperm donation) of a pair of twins born to an Indian surrogate. I forget right now where the eggs came from or if the surrogate was the biological mother. She got, as the homosexuals put it so charmingly, a "little too attached" to the babies, and they were forced to whip out the contract in the Indian hospital in order give her a "reminder" and take the babies away from her at birth. These odious people were full of nothing but fulsome happiness about how it all ended. Their "feet scarcely touched the ground" as they left with the infant twins.

Not outliers, really.

Oh, and: If pressure of some kind or other on a surrogate to abort an "abnormal" child is an outlier, why are abortion clauses a standard part of surrogacy contracts, hmmm?

I do not believe that abortion is murder, but I respect people who think otherwise. And I agree that Lydia has a point here with respect to IVF.
Mike T is another story, however.

It's [supposed to be] heartless to tell a rape victim she must bear an unwanted child and ruin her figure even if the natural law makes it quite clear that if she goes to planned parenthood or pulls a DIY attempt in her home she is a murderer deserving of the penalties befitting a murderer.

As if the problem of being raped and becoming pregnant were the ruin of one's figure. Sickening.

Grobi, the problem of becoming pregnant after rape is a physical and hormonal problem that resolves itself after 9 months if the woman puts the baby up for adoption. 9 months of that set of physical problems is not too high a price to pay for any woman in order to avoid being a murderer of her own child. The mental anguish and emotional trauma of having been raped go on whether she is pregnant or not, and killing the innocent baby takes it out on an innocent bystander without actually dealing with the mental and emotional injury as such. Although I don't like or use Mike's in-your-face style, the fact of the matter is that as a society we are being horrible liars to ourselves and each other when we pretend that the woman's having been raped changes _any_ critical aspect of the act of abortion as murder. If it is murder when you weren't raped, it is still murder when you were raped. If you respect people who think abortion is murder, then you ought to respect the same people who think it is murder even when the mother was raped.

Yes, the mother is entitled to a lot of social support during and after her pregnancy, on account of her having been raped and becoming pregnant from it. Nothing about that social support ought to pretend that the rape moves one single iota of the moral reality of abortion as murder.

In fact, I do not even understand why Christians think that you have to physically conceive a child in order to love it.

Since Christians enthusiastically support adoption, they obviously do not think this.

...because nothing makes us liberals laugh more [than] social conservatives who hand us free political victories.

We're well aware that the Party of Death derives great amusement from the Christian belief that our love for the child ought to extend to the circumstances of its coming into being, while the POD thinks that the "right to be loved" begins at birth. Between conception and birth lies this vast, nine month no-man's land of indifference and death. You guys have a great sense of humor while basking in the glow of political victory, but in attempting to destroy the concept of moral virtue, you remain always, shall we say, deadly serious.

Tony, I've had this debate before, but can you shed some light on whether or not Catholics are allowed to use non-abortive morning after pills after rape?

MarcAnthony, I don't know all of the biochemistry, but it is my impression that most if not all of the stuff that is used to interfere with conception also has the effect of interfering with implantation of an embryo in the uterus. That is, they are abortifacient drugs. This is an actual design feature of the drugs, to my understanding. So, saying "non-abortive" you may be talking about a null set here.

If we had a drug that truly had no impact whatsoever on a brand new conceived embryo, and was safe for the woman generally, but would prevent conception if it had not yet taken place, I am unaware of any moral rationale that would make it wrong for a woman to use it AFTER RAPE. The principal objection to sex intentionally entered into as contracepted is that it interferes with the natural object of the act itself. But with a raped woman, she didn't intentionally enter into the act, and there is no natural object of "waiting to see if a past violence results in her getting pregnant."

And yes, that would help to take "what to do with raped women who are pregnant" off the table of the abortion debate.

One girl told me that her father probably would have pressured her mother into abortion if she got pregnant one more time (not married). Am I supposed to tell her that her father is a murderer?

Why need you tell her anything? You have no obligation at all, unless God puts you into a situation where some word of yours is what God wants her to hear. And in that case, whatever you say, it better be the truth. Even if you don't call her father a murderer (or a "murderer by anticipated intention"), you can still call him an ass, a moral monster, a jerk (for not marrying the mother of his children), a cad (for pressuring women to mop his dirty work instead of exercising control of himself), and an incredibly insensitive boor (for actually imposing on his daughter such awful details of his grotesquely immature relationship with her mother, instead of hiding his dark under a bushel basket). There's lots of room for showing him up as being a blot on the landscape without ever using the M word.

I wouldn't lie, and I'm not defending the father (also, luckily I didn't have to and didn't say anything on that subject, although she DID know I was pro-life). I'm saying that if I'm trying to convince somebody abortion is wrong who's stuck in a difficult circumstance I probably wouldn't go on about how abortion is murder.

Sound obvious? Not so much. This all comes from a contest I was in last year where we had to give speeches on pro-life issues. Almost everybody, me included, focused on abortion.

I went with two friends from my school, and we weren't against a lot of people. Maybe 8 including us? In my speech I exhorted politicians and celebrities to be less cowardly (this followed closely after the Komen Cancer debacle) and for pro-lifers to become more vocal.

My friend ("Bob") was an excellent speaker, and all around great human being. He has a deep voice and did a very calm speech exhorting people to win souls through mercy and through love. It was excellent.

A girl after him got up and fired off an angry rant on the evils of abortion and all that jazz. She was a good speaker but it was more of an angry rant than a speech.

She made it through to the next round. I didn't. Neither of my classmates, including Bob, made it. Bob deserved to make it. I fail to see how anything that girl was saying was going to do anything to help the pro-life cause. Coming off as radicals isn't helping anybody. We're not radicals, and we don't need to go "Jonathan Edwards" on everybody all the time.

This has gotten rather long and involved, but I suppose what I'm getting at is that I think compassion-HONEST compassion, mind you, I'm not advocating sugarcoating-is a better way to convert souls than being one of those people who holds up the pictures of aborted fetuses outside of abortion centers, you know?

Generally, as a most-of-the-time standard, I agree that honey is better than vinegar in getting people to hear you out. Shouting in their faces is unlikely to make them interested in opening their minds.

But as for actual conversion (outside of teaching youngsters), I don't think discussion and argument really is going to do it, no matter what you say to them, not anymore. My guess is that by the time a person is 22 in this country, they have heard every argument they want to hear, and 98% of the time they have either decided that they want to live the life of hedonism and the pro-life stance is just too stuck in that morality schtick for them - it's not a rational conclusion but a willful choice of lifestyle - or they admit internally (whatever they say to others) that abortion has some moral problems. The other 2% of the time, some grace-filled moment or event moves them to open up their minds and consider whether there might be some some truth to the old pro-life arguments that they have been hearing for 10 or 20 years, and it isn't a well-laid-out argument that initiates that.

it's not a rational conclusion but a willful choice of lifestyle

Reminds me of the rich man and Lazarus:

And besides all this, between us and you, there is fixed a great chaos: so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house, for I have five brethren, That he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But he said: No, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance.

And he said to him: If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, if one rise again from the dead.

As if the problem of being raped and becoming pregnant were the ruin of one's figure. Sickening.

Pretty much my reaction when I first heard some pro-choice women make the argument.

One girl told me that her father probably would have pressured her mother into abortion if she got pregnant one more time (not married). Am I supposed to tell her that her father is a murderer?

It depends on the situation. I know nothing beyond what you described, but I don't think you would have to go there unless she makes into a discussion where the only way to avoid calling him a murderer is to lie to her or deceive her. Obviously such cases require more care than confronting an actual party to an abortion.

Generally, as a most-of-the-time standard, I agree that honey is better than vinegar in getting people to hear you out. Shouting in their faces is unlikely to make them interested in opening their minds.

I'm getting confused about why everyone is talking about shouting this or that here. Are we so lacking in imagination that we cannot imagine saying these things with a civil tone and without ad hominems? Granted, many a woman would have to hear an uncomfortable truth about what her abortion made her, but is that any worse than telling a cheater that he or she is just a garden variety adulterer, not someone deserving of haaaaaappiness and stuck with a mean old, boring spouse?

My guess is that by the time a person is 22 in this country, they have heard every argument they want to hear, and 98% of the time they have either decided that they want to live the life of hedonism and the pro-life stance is just too stuck in that morality schtick for them - it's not a rational conclusion but a willful choice of lifestyle - or they admit internally (whatever they say to others) that abortion has some moral problems.

So what do you think the solution is? Target people when they're younger?

Like most things, the solution is naturally more complicated than it appears, isn't it?

MarcAnthony, there isn't any one "solution", because there isn't only one basis for the problem. The solution is (a) prayer and fasting (b) living a joyful upright life, and expecting your friends to do the same (c) giving witness to the pro-life truth in your own life by having children, more than the 1.5 now considered chic, (d) teaching your children and their friends, (e) putting your kids in an education choice that will bolster and improve your pro-life home life, (f) electing upright men to positions of authority, (g) making the pro-life arguments in print where a person who wants to read it can do so without being able to complain that we are forcing her to hear it, (h) support alternatives, like pregnancy centers, (i) doing pro-life rallies, marches, and other supporting causes, and (j) on occasion, direct teaching and/or preaching. That's about the right order of priority, too, roughly.

I have nothing to add to that besides agreement, Tony.

Tony's list is a good elaboration of the "weapons of the Christian" described in my St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (from lesser to greatest):

1. Encouragement
2. Good example
3. Prayer
4. Suffering and Sacrifice

Tony,
So Christianity is to be entirely pacifist?
A Christian may use his gun only to defend his gun and nothing else?.
And it is entirely illegitimate to use force in order to defend the rightness in the culture?

Gian,

I went through Tony's posts to see where he remotely implied strict pacifism just to make sure I'm not becoming soft in the head. Maybe I am, but I'm not seeing it even on a second reading.

Scott W., you're not going soft in the head. The only one soft in the head around here is the guy who thinks he's doing pro-lifers a favor by sowing discord, self-doubt, and despair.

As usual, Gian is wrong again. I have in the past indicated situations where I thought that violence or the threat of violence was warranted in the protection of life - and that includes unborn life. I just think the parameters are a LOT narrower than Gian thinks. Because Gian doesn't think that when you disagree with someone, you should engage in trying to change their mind, rather you should just part civil unity (form different polities) or impose your way on them by force.

Gian,
I will give you my pacifist philosophy when you pry it from my forgiving hands.

Tony,
The civil unity departs by itself since it depends upon psychology.
When you describe your opponents as enemies, enslavers and enablers of murderers, what kind of civil unity are you talking about?

There is disagreement and there is another type of disagreement. People have never agreed too much with each other but had at least heard each other out.
Now, as a commentator at Dreher's said -someone spouting natural law type of argument is instantly labeled as one insane. And then naturally it is not possible to reason with one insane and thus we may ignore him.

This is how you are treated in all the courts. So your polity regards your fundamental convictions as insanity. So either you will compromise and accept being a dhimmi or you have to fight. Even dhimmis were left alone with respect to their children but the Christians won't be.

sowing discord, self-doubt, and despair.
Pro-lifers are necessarily strong people. A little criticism isn't going to hurt them and may even be encouraging.

Scott W,
Even the popes themselves never entirely relied on prayers only.

When you describe your opponents as enemies, enslavers and enablers of murderers, what kind of civil unity are you talking about?

The mark of Divinity is that God, even while we were His enemies and wallowed in our sins of slavery and murder, sent His only Son to die for us. And while here on this Earth, He started the process of salvation with converting thousands by: talking to them. The chief priests thought he was insane, and they killed him for it, which was his success.

They thought St. Stephen was insane, and they killed him for it. In his so dying, he converted many, thus starting a long line of martyrs whose blood gave us the wellspring of the Church.

On the political side: They thought Mahatma Ghandi was insane, but 30 years after he started HE OWNED the polity the government of which he initially was considered the enemy, later a national hero.

Closer to home, when Rand Paul started his filibuster, everyone thought he was nuts, tilting at windmills. just by talking for a while, he got some others to join with him, and forced the government to state definitely that Americans on American soil are entitled to Constitutional rights.

That you are not succeeding right now in persuading others is ONLY ONE of the necessary conditions for taking up violence to pursue a just state. There are others.

Gian, what you call criticism I call heckling. You're constantly imputing motives and premises in our writers. You insinuate blindness to logical consequence, when the logic is really your own tangle of impressions and prejudices; and you conflate differing tactics as abject trimming on matters of importance. Most importantly, about every third of your statements of fact (concerning America damn near every other) can be shown as false.

what you call criticism I call heckling.

I agree and will waste no more time on it.

This is how you are treated in all the courts. So your polity regards your fundamental convictions as insanity. So either you will compromise and accept being a dhimmi or you have to fight. Even dhimmis were left alone with respect to their children but the Christians won't be.

Dhimmitude has almost always been what you are afraid will be visited upon Christians here. If you believe dhimmis are left alone, you haven't been paying attention to how they are often treated. My family has some connections to the Coptic community and some of the stories I could tell you put the lie to the idea that Islam treats minority religions with any real humanity (Jim Crow and Mohammed are brothers by another mother).

Jesus gave us ample warnings. The choice is stark. Choose Him now, be persecuted now, have a peaceful afterlife. Reject Him now, the world will accept you, God will damn your soul for eternity.

Another thing, Gian, you do know that only Christians and Jews can be dhimmis... right? They consider other monotheists like Zoroastrians and Sikhs to be pagans and pagans have no right of dhimmitude under Sharia.

I haven't had much to add lately to the debates here at W4 but I just wanted to:

(1) thank Tony for his wonderful list in the comment from 3/9/13 at 4:35 PM;

(2) thank Step 2, who can be annoying at times, for adding some delightful humor to the proceedings with his comment from 3/12/13; I got a good chuckle out of that one!

I have three children born as a result of IVF. While I respect your opinions, I find most of these anti-IVF arguments unconvincing.

Moreover, the linked article is an argument against surrogacy, not IVF. The pertinent facts would be unchanged if other methods were used to conceive. I'm looking at you, turkey baster.

I am not sure I buy Lydia's argument that it is possible to wrong a child because of the way in which you conceive the child. It follows from Lydia's argument that those who conceive knowing - because of their own genetic makeup - that their own children will be born disabled are wronging their future child. It also suggests that genetic engineering to prevent such a thing would be the 'right' thing to do.

Lydia is incorrect that our IVF 'making' of a child was somehow not an act of love. And our children are certainly a gift, not a product. I'm sorry you feel otherwise, Lydia, but that's your problem, not mine. More importantly, I'm really not sure what the ultimate point of your argument is. How has the child been wronged here, exactly? Are you saying that IVF children are somehow less in some way or another because of the way they were conceived? If not, what difference does it make, really?

It would be a lie to say that no one mourns when an embryo fails to 'take' in IVF. For we certainly did. Contrast that with a natural pregnancy that fails to 'take'. Because a less-than-a-week-old naturally-conceived embryo is unknown, and unknowable, to the parents, IVF is the only time such an embryo can truly be the focus of parental love.

I'm sorry to break it to you, Tony, but our children are our children. I am too busy loving them to give a second thought to whatever financial, physical or emotional sacrifices may or may not have been part of their creation. Of course, I can't stop you from thinking of them as a commodity if you so wish. Again, that would be a reflection of you, not of me.

Since the topic of rape reared it's ugly head, and it should be obvious that a baby conceived through rape would not be "conceiving a child in love," it does increase my curiosity about what difference that is supposed to make. Why is that baby supposed to be less of whatever it is that a child conceived in love is supposed to be?

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."168 "Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person."169
"Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union

Exactly, Scott. Thanks.

Are you saying that IVF children are somehow less in some way or another because of the way they were conceived?

No, of course not. The child is a human being, worthy of every human right and dignity any child has as such. What is "less" is the manner of conceiving the child, in which the parents used their bodies in a way to run athwart natural conception by the natural conjugal act.

Of course, I can't stop you from thinking of them as a commodity if you so wish.

Shane, just out of curiosity, did you sign any kind of a contract with the medical group? That's the beginning of a commodity arrangement right there. Did the contract specify anything like "keep trying up to X tries or until you successfully bring a baby to full term"? That's a commodifying type of contract.

Look, if you wish reject the classical Christian treatment of sexuality and fecundity, of the deep integrity of the procreative act in all of its normative dimensions, you can do so. But merely rejecting the premises of Lydia's thesis is not disproving them, it is just nay-saying.

Certainly, Shane, surrogacy without IVF raises some similar problems, and I am also opposed to surrogacy without IVF, e.g., by artificial insemination. However, there is this difference: In such cases, the surrogate mother is the child's actual biological mother. Obviously, the wrong then lies in her a) conceiving outside of the act of love itself and b) deliberately contracting to give the child to others--hence, conceiving the child with the deliberate intention that the child will not be hers when born. IVF has the problem of conceiving outside the womb altogether--separating the child from its mother at a time when it is naturally supposed to be united with its mother and thus making possible other abominations that are not even possible in "turkey baster" artificial insemination and which should never be possible.

To respond to your argument about conceiving knowing that you are a carrier of a disability: A lot turns around the notion of the deliberateness of conception. It may be that a person who has a sufficiently grave genetic disability *along with* some extremely high probability that any child of his will have it (these do not by any means always come together) should never marry at all. But it could also be possible to conceive a child in such circumstances that it was by no means your intent that the child would have the disability--e.g., if there was a chance of conceiving a child without the disability, for example.

Genetic engineering is wrong in itself. Hence it couldn't be right to do wrong for a well-intentioned end. Consequentialism is false.

Both the case I was considering as a hypothetical and IVF carry none of the potential uncertainties or ambiguities concerning intent involved in the case of a married person who carried a severe genetic disease. In both of those cases the situation of the child *is the intended outcome* of the procedure. The person who contracts to have the child conceived by IVF intends (obviously) that the child will be conceived in the lab rather than in the womb, for example.

Several of your questions seem to involve a confusion regarding what I meant by objectively treating the child as a product rather than a gift. In no way was I disparaging the child. I'm sorry if I was unclear, but if I may say so, I react rather negatively to what I perceive as a kind of hostage-holding that goes on with people engaging in...shall we say...unconventional methods of baby-making. If you think the parents did wrong, you're taken to be insulting the children. Nothing of the sort is the case, and I reserve the right to criticize the parents' decision openly without the child being held up as a kind of block to my doing so. In short, I consider that chattel slavery is a clarifying analogy here: When we buy and sell a man as property, we _objectively speaking_ treat him as merchandise. The slave seller and buyer may protest until the cows come home that they really do think of the slaves as fully human and that they intend to be kind to them, but the cold, hard fact remains: Mr. Jones just put up a human being for sale. Mr. Jones's subjective feelings about the slave do not change the fact that Mr. Jones just treated a human being as merchandise. Is the abolitionist _insulting_ the slave by saying that objectively, Mr. Jones treated the slave as merchandise? Is the abolitionist saying that the slave is now metaphysically a mere object of merchandise? Of course not. The abolitionist is sternly criticizing Jones for, by his actions, treating the slave as one.

Similarly, what I am saying about IVF is that you have objectified children when you have treated them as objects to be manufactured in and by a laboratory. However much you love them (which I do not doubt), that cannot change the fact that the method of bringing them into being was unworthy of their humanity and, hence, wrong.

Tony,
Your example of Gandhi is ironical. He divided the polity, unlike Lincoln.
Gandhi may be a Christian hero to Americans but is not elsewhere.

And my question remains: by calling the opponents the words that are unsuited to the political discourse, the pro-lifers are themselves destroying the civil unity.

Essentially, the choice is presented as between the conscience and the State.

Your example of Gandhi is ironical. He divided the polity, unlike Lincoln.

Good gravy. The British (as a going away present) and various leaders divided the polity between Hindus and Muslims, not between those who accepted British overrule and those who did not. And Ghandi was not one of the leaders of the movement to partition, that came from others and he opposed it (and was assassinated for his trouble):

"My whole soul rebels against the idea that Hinduism and Islam represent two antagonistic cultures and doctrines. To assent to such a doctrine is for me a denial of God." (Wiki)
Gandhi may be a Christian hero to Americans but is not elsewhere.

Since he wasn't a Christian, that's a really weird comment.

by calling the opponents the words that are unsuited to the political discourse, the pro-lifers are themselves destroying the civil unity.

There we seem to have Gian at his most grotesque, disgusting fruity-ness. For 2000 years of Christianity and 350 years of our national history we adhered to custom and law that made abortion out to be against natural law, God's precepts, human law. When innovators in the last 50 years try to force a change down our throats by twisting civil law against itself, we who urge the tradition of centuries are "destroying civil unity". That's just sick.

Tony,
Civic unity is a purely descriptive term. You can't deny that at present unlimited abortion is the law in America. The pro-lifers seek to change the law, that's fine but the language used is simply uncalled for. I simply can not conceive how it is consistent to both use most offensive language against an opponent-calling him murderer, enslaver and all the rest, and then call them 'my esteemed colleagues'.

I think that you have no idea about the limits of political discourse. That is what may happen if you live inside a stable polity. To you, it is inconceivable that the polity may break down. In this you are like cultural revolutionaries or economic levellers that presume that culture or wealth creation will
continue irrespective of their actions.

All the language that is uncivic damages civil unity. But if you place conscience above State, it is no bad thing.

Tony
Regarding Gandhi, please read Churchill and not progressive propaganda.

his most grotesque, disgusting fruity-ness
Uncivic language again.

Again I wish to point about that my point was not about the content of pro-lifer's message but the style.

The same problem was exemplified in Sen Paul--first denounce the Govt as out to murder citizens and then ask the same Govt for reassurance that it is not going to murder citizens.

It really seems that conservatives do not see the disconnect, the inconsistency in their words and deeds. It is an attitude of a spoiled child. To throw tantrums and still demand privilege and comforting words.

You want to denounce Govt as a gang of murderers and enslavers out to enslave you and then plan to participate in the same Govt. You don't see that you should trust Govt to reliably judge between enemies and non-enemies.

So, as usual, what this all is about is Gian venting his spleen against conservatives. That's the only subject he cares about.

Consider what naivety his monomania brings, though.

I simply can not conceive how it is consistent to both use most offensive language against an opponent-calling him murderer, enslaver and all the rest, and then call them 'my esteemed colleagues'.

It seems like Gian is unfamiliar with the US Congress, British Parliament, Athenian Assembly, Roman Senate, the Court of the English Crown, and any other sovereign legislative body; where all manner of invective, denunciation, excoriation, vilification and the like was hurled across the chamber at men in the same government, whose very company may later be enjoyed in a social setting.

Or perhaps Gian has no experience with a dear friend or relative who is of the most erroneous opinions but yet dear still. Did Chesterton break civic unity with Shaw and Wells and the other socialists, his friends? Were Reagan and Tip O'Neill disunited across a chasm of irretrievable incivility?

Even princes in pre-modern states did not scruple to bring their enemies into the government of their realm. Barons referred to as "my sovereign lord" kings they were conspiring to unseat and banish. Sometimes, even, the enmity of an ancient foe was papered over with such subtle rhetoric and ceremony that a lasting peace endured.

Inconsistency positively suffuses political discourse of any kind. The whole art of rhetoric, since it aims at persuasion not logical demonstration, embraces the necessity for exaggeration, instructive paradox, distortion that exposes hidden susceptibilities, etc. Intimation and suggestion, not Gian's rigid dogmas on civic fellowship, is what rules.

Basically Gian doesn't dig conservative style.

"what this all is about is Gian venting his spleen against conservatives"

Gian, I am interested in what you consider yourself politically/culturally. Sometimes it is hard to tell where you're coming from, and which sort of "conservative" you're bashing. Who do you consider your intellectual influences? Whose camp, so to speak, do you put yourself in?

No, really, NM. If I've let things go on this long OT in this thread, that doesn't mean (it really doesn't) that I want it to be "all about Gian." As far as I'm concerned, if he gets tired of us and goes away, all the better. Don't encourage him like that.

I'm a little confused. On the one hand, Scott W's quotation says IVF deprives embryos of dignity. On the other hand, Tony contents that the child has every dignity. There might be a distinction in there somewhere but it is far from obvious.

For what it's worth, Tony, we had no guarantees of any kind whatsoever. I don't recall signing anything that I wouldn't be asked to sign in relation to my children today. (Liability waivers, medical permission forms, etc.) If that rendered our embryos a commodity then our children remain commodities. I tend to think neither is the case.

Lydia, while donor eggs adds an additional element, IVF remains an unnecessary factor to the opening situation. Again, banning IVF, would not prevent a surrogate demanding more money to abort. Banning surrogacy would.

If I understand your position that it's immoral to deliberately produce (naturally or otherwise) a disabled child, you think there's some kind of judgment calls to be made regarding the severity of disability and regarding the probability the baby will have that disability. I'm not sure there's a bright line to be drawn in either of those cases.

I'm not sure why you protest that you're taken to be insulting to the children, when I ask how has the child been wronged. Your analogies don't just say that the parents did wrong, they indicate some kind of objective 'wrong' happening to the child:

Your first analogy: producing a child who was deliberately created disabled. Here, the objective evidence of the wrong is the disability.
Your second analogy: buying and selling an adult. Here, the objective evidence of the wrong is that a slave is not free.
So in the case of IVF, for your analogies to hold, there must be some objective wrong. But there is none.

Indeed, you (and Tony) go to great lengths to insist that and IVF child is no different from any other. If an IVF child is identical to a child conceived naturally, then how child being harmed by the use of IVF? Or, if the IVF child is being harmed, how can they be identical? That's not holding you hostage, that's pointing out a fundamental flaw in your logic.

The closest you all get, as best I can tell, are nebulous claims that IVF somehow takes away some of the child's dignity (or not). Or isn't an act of love. Or turns the child into a commodity. Or objectifies them. But that's just throwing subjective views of the process against the wall and hoping something resonates.

IVF is not predicated on the buying and selling of eggs and sperm. Nothing needs to be "manufactured".

And the reality is that IVF bonds parents to their embryo in ways that are impossible during a natural pregnancy. With the IVF process you have sperm and eggs which you hope, with every fiber of your being, will create an embryo. We loved our children even before conception. I have no idea of how that somehow takes away their dignity.

Then you have embryos that you fall in love with and root, with every fiber of your being, to grow and thrive. Which is exactly how I feel about my children today. And, when they die, you grieve. Which is exactly what I would do with my children today. I have no idea how that somehow makes them unworthy of their humanity.

Now, I have no interested in convincing y'all of anything. If you don't like it, don't do it, end of. But if your goal is to convince others of your viewpoint then I don't think these arguments will meet with much success.

Sorry, Lydia. Was just trying to get a handle on where he's coming from in order (possibly) to make sense of some of what he says.

Shane, I think there's a misunderstanding going on here. When we say that IVF "robs children of their dignity", we mean that OTHER people aren't giving the child the respect he deserves. It's the same as saying that what the Nazis did to the Jews robs them of their dignity. The Jews have an innate dignity, but we're not treating them with the respect that dignity entails.

The problem with having a child via IVF is that you're acting as if the child is a right, not a privilege. Children are people, not something that you deserve to have.

Yes, I understand the intense emotions involved, and I'm not saying you're a bad person. But objective reality is objective reality.

On the one hand, Scott W's quotation says IVF deprives embryos of dignity. On the other hand, Tony contents that the child has every dignity.

Shane, we are not dealing with some esoteric mysticism here, just a basic distinction in logic. A child is human, which means he is inherently entitled to certain kinds of treatment, the kind of treatment we give on the basis of inherent dignity. If someone refuses to so treat the child (or any human) in a way that is consistent with what he is entitled to, that failure is (in one sense) a failure to grant the person the dignity he is owed, and (on the other sense) it is a failure to recognize and respond to the human condition which calls for that dignity of treatment. They are both called "dignity" but in different senses: one is the inherent condition residing within the person being treated and the other is the treatment that pertains to persons to whom such treatment is owed. If a robber robs me, he fails to treat me with the dignity I am owed, on the other hand my own person remains the same in the sense that it still calls for dignified treatment. If you enter the presence of a king and you ignore him and just talk to everyone present as if he wasn't there, your treatment of him is lacking required dignity, but the king's condition of royalty remains a condition of dignity.

Most people recognize the two senses quite readily.

Indeed, you (and Tony) go to great lengths to insist that and IVF child is no different from any other. If an IVF child is identical to a child conceived naturally, then how child being harmed by the use of IVF? Or, if the IVF child is being harmed, how can they be identical? That's not holding you hostage, that's pointing out a fundamental flaw in your logic.

We are not claiming the 2 children are identical in EVERY respect. One child has parents who conceived her within and respecting the inherent integrity of the conjugal act, the other did not. This difference, while extrinsic to the child (i.e. is a condition of the way the child has been treated, not a difference within the child herself), is not a complete irrelevancy. Just as a home in which the child is hugged, talked to and sung to, (in comparison to a home in which none of these happen) is going to be a condition that is a "difference" for the child.

If I understand your position that it's immoral to deliberately produce (naturally or otherwise) a disabled child, you think there's some kind of judgment calls to be made regarding the severity of disability and regarding the probability the baby will have that disability.

Enough with the disabled child nonsense already. This is a "counterexample" that doesn't actually exemplify anything, since nobody here thinks that any parents (using natural or artificial means) ought to set about to conceive a child wherein they deliberately intend the child be disabled - regardless of the degree of disability.

we had no guarantees of any kind whatsoever. I don't recall signing anything that I wouldn't be asked to sign in relation to my children today. (Liability waivers, medical permission forms, etc.) If that rendered our embryos a commodity then our children remain commodities. I tend to think neither is the case.

I wasn't talking about guarantees, I was talking about such things as "X amount of payment per attempt, or Y amount of payment gets you 'up to' 5 attempts". There had to be some agreement of how much money you were going to pay for the IVF clinic's services. And in return, there was probably some sort of spelling out of just how much "service" you were entitled to for that money.

You are also (intentionally?) glossing over a host of intermediate "objectification" choices inherent in the procedure: Did they fertilize several eggs and freeze them? If so, then they anticipate the possibility that some of the conceived embryos won't
be "needed" and will be disposed of. That's treating them as objects. (This is so common as to be a near certainty for run of the mill cases.) Did they attempt to insert two or more embryos, with the hope of increasing the odds that "at least one" of them will implant this cycle? If so, they are treating the _several_ as objects. And did they assume that if two or more actually did implant, that they would abort one or more "excess" baby? If so, they were treating the embryos as things to be disposed of. Was there the implicit (or explicit) understanding that if an embryo came to be implanted that was deformed, the baby would be aborted? (A significantly higher concern given the effects of the technological handling of the embryo.) That sort of understanding treats the embryo as an object. ALL of these methods are extremely common to IVF clinics, enough so that we are justified in expecting that they (or some of them) were used at your clinic, and these are just some of the examples of concrete ways in which the child is treated as a thing.

But even if ALL of these objectification aspects of IVF procedure didn't take place: even if they only retrieved one egg at a time, fertilized it and inserted it in the mother without looking for deformities, and then waited to see if implantation took place, and if it did allowed the pregnancy to go to term even if the child was disabled, the process still violates a more basic moral requirement:

Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union

That "as the fruit of the conjugal act" is what is at issue. You may well claim that you don't "see" it, but you cannot argue that Lydia is wrong without tackling that point head on. The claim here is that disrupting the inherent totality of meaning of the conjugal act in either direction is wrong: either engaging in the conjugal act in such a way that conception is directly frustrated, or using the reproductive faculties in procuring a conception outside of the conjugal act, is wrong. The God-given design of human nature is that a child be conceived within the context of the intimate gift of each spouse in a physical unity that is the sign and promise of permanent and faithful love, which conditions are owed by the spouses to each other and to their child so conceived. The intimate physical unity component of that self-giving is not "incidental" to the overall design of human reproduction. Whatever else it is, IVF is not an "alternate way" of aligning conception to be within the context of an "intimate physical unity" of spouses.

Shane, it's interesting that you treat the not-free aspect of the slave as a property of the slave. It isn't, really, an intrinsic property of the slave. It's a property of his situation. We can even imagine strange conditions in which a slave has not heard of freedom and doesn't think of himself as unfree, but his master did, in fact, pay money for him (perhaps as an infant, too young to remember) and regards himself as morally justified in selling him but simply hasn't done so. In that case there wouldn't even be a _mental_ property of the slave that one could point to as some sort of frustration or feeling of unfreedom. Yet the master would still be treating the slave as an object and in a way unworthy of his dignity.

There is no error of logic here. The point is, as Tony has pointed out, that one human being can treat another human being in a way unworthy of his dignity while at the same time the human being himself remains objectively fully worthy.

Perhaps the matter would be clearer if I said it this way: Suppose that you had purchased your children as embryos. Outright purchased them. X thousand dollars to the clinic per embryo. Direct trafficking in human beings. (There is a clinic that does this, by the way. I linked to a story about it above.) You might never tell them that; no doubt you wouldn't tell them. Nor is the fact that they would not be your biological children *in and of itself* where the wrong comes in (please note the qualifier), as adoption is not wrong. But selling human embryos and treating them as property is wrong *just as it is wrong* to buy and sell older human beings and treat them as property. Human beings are not a commodity and shouldn't be bought and sold. This despite the fact that your children in that case might be at this moment as happy and loved as if they had not been sold and purchased when they were too young to know it.

But if your goal is to convince others of your viewpoint then I don't think these arguments will meet with much success.

It's not the fault of the arguments, which are valid and sound. It is rather a problem of the will rather than the intellect. Not much we can do about that because there is not much one can do about hard teachings to make them more palatable without obscuring the truth. So we just keep witnessing to the truth as best we can and trust that some seed will fall on good soil.

Did Chesterton ever call Shaw a murderer or an enabler of murderers?

With the Rob Portman news today, I'm just waiting for the thrilling 2030 Democratic v. Republican debate on whether IVF should be free for homosexual couples

for Equality.

And the reality is that IVF bonds parents to their embryo in ways that are impossible during a natural pregnancy.

Then everyone should do it that way.

With the IVF process you have sperm and eggs which you hope, with every fiber of your being, will create an embryo.

When hoping for a baby, this how a couple feels after having sex, which didn't transpire in a petrie dish.

And, when they die, you grieve.

What does this mean, exactly? Did one or more embryos die before success was achieved?

Did Chesterton ever call Shaw a murderer or an enabler of murderers?

I am unaware of Chesterton having a notion that Shaw was responsible for, or an enabler, of the intentional deaths of innocent persons. But aside from that: Let's look to a higher authority than Chesterton, an authority GKC revered:

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him...

Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you!

At the right times, places, and situations, calling out the evil people do by its proper name is a good. At other times and situations, using conciliatory language is a good. Depends on circumstance.

What does this mean, exactly? Did one or more embryos die before success was achieved?

The natural rate of miscarriage for all pregnancies is estimated (based on tracking hormone levels daily) at 31%, and averaged at 17% for known pregnancies. Therefore, even natural conception is a deadly risk for the human embryo, but the pregnancy is unknown by the mother almost half the time. Given the difficulty and expense of IVF, I would expect their "pregnancy awareness" rate to be near 100% and they should know how many human embryos were implanted.

That 31% average is _highly_ conjectural, Step2. In fact, I do recall reading that some estimates of natural implantation failure are made _from_ IVF implantation failure rates, on the assumption that because IVF implantation attempts are carefully timed based on hormonal measurements, they represent a "best-case scenario" for natural implantation as well.

Yeah, I've heard ratios as high as 70% of conceptions end in miscarriage - most of them unknown, of course. And much lower rations have been suggested as well. Naturally, the sheer range of the ratios offered gives one pause about their accuracy. But more, I have never heard anyone state the methodology for how we could know, when so many of these conceptions do (or might, or could) end in miscarriage before implantation or very soon after. And, given so many other instances of claimed statistics where, once we examine the methodology we find it full of holes, I just don't have any reason to find these numbers something to worry about.

But aside from all that, assuming hypothetically that 31% is somewhat close: there is still a significant difference between allowing a death risk of 31% with a natural act unfolding naturally, that is built in to the human condition itself, and choosing to take on an artificial attempt to produce the same effect with death risk rates from 50% to 70%.

there is still a significant difference between allowing a death risk of 31% with a natural act unfolding naturally, that is built in to the human condition itself, and choosing to take on an artificial attempt to produce the same effect with death risk rates from 50% to 70%.

Exactly, but I doubt Step2 cares about the difference between deaths caused by nature and those caused by someone playing Russian roulette with the lives of others. Nor will he be much moved by the difference in the means of procuring the sperm to effect fertilization. But he does love his statistics.

Tony,
The prophetic rhetoric is unsuited to political discourse.

In case you forget, I am talking only of political discourse. There you can adopt the parliamentary style or the Leninist one.

Or you can simply ignore the false dilemmas of hecklers.

Gee, I wonder if General Jeruzelski thought that JPII's prophetic warnings had nothing to do with politics, being "unsuited" to political discourse. Turns out that JPII the prophet affected politics after all, and lasted a lot longer than the politician!

The prophetic rhetoric is unsuited to political discourse.

In case you forget, I am talking only of political discourse. There you can adopt the parliamentary style or the Leninist one.

Thank you, Gian, for first telling me what kind of discourse I am required to engage in, and then for lecturing me on what kind of style I am allowed to take. See, without you lending me your guidance and granting me permission to speak, why, I would have been out of order. You officious, condescending buffoon, get lost!

I found this by a Belgian Jesuit priest. He suggests that the teaching on futile medical care should be applied to the embryos, and hence that they can morally be unfrozen. He is also very clear that embryo adoption, though possibly motivated by a praiseworthy sentiment, is an instrumentalization of the mother, and hence not intrinsically good.

It seems that there is nothing more official out there.

That isn't official either. There have been others, as I recall, who are at least as official as a Belgian Jesuit who have argued on the other side. I don't have time to look up more of the debate right now.

And it isn't futile if keeping them frozen and then implanting them is preventing them from dying.

I agree it is not official, it's just all I found.

I also agree that "futile" is not the best word out there. It was an awkward translation. I meant something like "agressive medical treatment" or "extraordinary and disproportionate means of care". Frankly, it does not seem patently unreasonable to consider that freezing someone until something can be done medically so that they can survive on their own is an extraordinary medical treatment that does not have to be indefinitely prolonged, whatever the person's age. You would not do it to an older child or an adult, were it medically possible.

I think the Belgian priest is partly on the right track, that the freezing is at least subject to the "extraordinary means" analysis, though once you start the analysis you have to take more into account than merely "would we do this to an adult". So although it is possible to arrive at the conclusion that continued freezing is extraordinary means, that's not on that note alone a foregone conclusion that it IS extraordinary, nor that we ought not do it even though it is extraordinary. Included in the analysis would have to be such considerations as the continued cost, the likelihood of keeping them secure from new forms of ill treatment, and then the realistic prospect of eventually being able to (a) identify the gravely injured ones from the healthy ones, (b) implant the healthy ones with very little risk, or (c) a possible artificial womb. I don't think that anything the priest said provides a basis for saying, in a moral sense, that if we did have artificial wombs, and if there were few additional risks (beyond the ones common to pregnancy itself), putting these frozen embryos into artificial wombs would itself constitute an additional violation of their rights.

However, he is clearly NOT on the right track on other points. The main problem with the oft-repeated comment

A woman cannot welcome into the most intimate part of herself the fruit of a conception which is not made of her husband and herself

is that it would proclaim that the Incarnation of Jesus Christ was an evil, unnatural, obscene and abominable act in violation of the nature of marriage. If they are right, God had no business asking for the use of her uterus apart from the conjugal act of her husband, and Mary had no business accepting that request (especially without the approval of her husband, but even WITH his approval since he had no right to consent to such a violation of marriage).

Likewise, the theory that "using" the woman's womb to provide for a child not her own is wrong would be equally opposed to a woman becoming a wet-nurse for a child whose mother has died. Yet we have accepted that model of adoption for 5 thousand years without a single note of protest.

We already accept the moral validity of doing a caesarian delivery of a healthy baby from a dead or dying mother, after the baby has reached the viability point of 6 months or so. The mere fact of interfering with the normal uterine development - to save life - is not an immoral invasion of the sanctity of procreative integrity. Imagine, if you will, a future medical advance that allows us to take a 3-month old fetus of a mother who is dying, put it into an artificial womb during a protracted medical treatment for her (say 12 hours during which the baby would have died if he remained in her body) to save her life, and then restore the fetus to her womb when the operation is done. Although this is a medical intervention which "breaches" the security of her womb, there is no moral basis for saying that such a procedure is wrong. And if you can perform such a mechanical breach morally when the eventual recipient is the child's biological mother, I have yet to see a moral basis to say that you cannot do the same when the eventual recipient is the child's adoptive mother: Adoption is real motherhood, not "pro-forma" or "treated as if", which shows us that motherhood is an intentional reality as well as a biological one.

At some future time when society has turned away from IVF and wanton surrogacy, and makes illegal all such forms of abuse of the child, and removes from private hands all frozen embryos, (so that all chains of cooperation with the evil-doers who created the problem is broken), I suspect that nothing will preclude the Church from permitting the embryo adoption of the remaining frozen embryos as being morally licit.

I've made the point about wet nursing in discussing this issue years ago, Tony, and I think it's a good argument.

Very interesting point about the Virgin Birth. Props to you. I had never thought of that.

Tony-
if your reasoning on the Virgin Birth were correct, it would apply to any child born out of wedlock-- she was engaged, remember; you could go even further and try to draw conclusions about becoming pregnant with the child of someone when engaged to a different person, too.

Or, you could go with the idea that the Virgin Birth is an act of God, and thus doesn't apply to human attempts to manufacture humans

In addition to the many sound observations above re: the dark side of IVF, it is most often a response to over-aged attempts at conception STD-scarred Fallopian tubes. And it consumes abundant medical resources and public dollars in the form of insurance premiums that could be used for better purposes.

I don't know about "most often." Over-aged will do it (mess up your fertility) without any scarred fallopian tubes. And as things are going, we have "ethicists" who actually think that IVF is better even if you could conceive naturally, because you can manipulate and/or discard embryos. The causes of infertility are often pretty mysterious anyway, so I wouldn't make any hasty generalizations about the reasons, but this just isn't the way to go.

As for consuming resources, if it weren't unethical and if people were paying themselves, I wouldn't mind. The problem _there_ is that healthcare has been turned by our rulers into a quasi-public good and certain benefits are being mandated. At that point the poor utility and also of course wrongness of the thing being paid for does become relevant. For example, I believe the governor of one state (CA?) has just signed a law mandating coverage for homosexuals to have "treatment for infertility," which is of course quite absurd. That will mean that homosexual "couples" have to have their IVF/surrogacy paid for by insurance companies.

You are all narrow minded and judgemental horrible people. I feel sorry for your children having begrudging parents and what if your kids are infertile and need ivf or surrogacy i cant see them having your love and support!

Nobody "needs" IVF or surrogacy. A designer baby is not a right. To make these claims even more bizarre, IVF or surrogate children are often not even the biological children of both of the "intended parents," and sometimes of neither. For example, the eggs and/or sperm may come from a donor, and a surrogate may bear the child. So it's unclear even what right is being asserted by advocates of the "need" for IVF and surrogacy. A right to have one's own biological children? Well, there is in fact no such right, but furthermore, the baby in such cases is often not the biological child of both intended parents anyway. The right to have a baby made in a lab and borne by some woman or other in a situation where said baby is intended to be turned over to you by contract? The idea that this is anybody's right is laughable. If my children marry and they and their spouses are unable to conceive their own children naturally, they will hopefully consider adoption of one of the many babies already in existence and in need of loving parents. Now that's a _real_ need.

Those who call others judgmental are always, themselves, judgmental. They just judge people for a different set of behaviors.

It's not horrible to criticize IVF. To the contrary, IVF has turned life creation into a commercial, eugenicizing process that ultimately harms society. I saw a bumper sticker that said, "My Child was Eugenically Selected at Acme IVF." Sad and ironic, but true.

IVF is like building a home in Yosemite Valley or at Gettysburg: it pleases the user and their family and friends but costs the culture the notion of the sacred. I support the group over the sovereign consumer, esp. consumers using insurance dollar subsidies to advance the Brave New World.

And IVF is a techno fix for postponed attempts to conceive and STD-scarring. This is well-established. IVF clinics themselves have admitted to me in e-mails that most of their customers are of advanced age and/or have scarring. Too many people think they can defy and/or redefine natural limits that have existed for time immemorial. The female reproductive system peaks at 25. No amount of PC can change that. And barrier free sex spreads causes over 10 million new cases of STDs each year. This has had a major impact on fertility. If a food additive had one- thousandth of the effect on fertility as do STDs, there would be documentaries, Facebook pages and legislation to ban it.


I cannot believe you are saying in this article that a child born out of IVF is born without the love between a mother and father. As if there is a ton of love in all the random hookups where the mom and dad never see each other again. With IVF, there is probably MORE commitment because it costs a huge amount of money and time.

I am SHOCKED at how little you all really know about the IVF process. If you got your facts half right, you would feel differently. My child, born out of the IVF process, is NOT a product and NOT born without love. She was wanted, desired, hoped for and tried for, for a very long time. IVF babies are NOT designer babies and if anything, we hold more regard for life than most of you because all you did was have a big fat orgasm one night.

Please, for the love of God, get your facts right before you start writing nonsense. You are an embarrassment to a more honest and empathetic debate about the controversies of IVF.

Shannon, we mean, nasty people who don't "really know about the IVF process" know a few facts. Such as: that in nearly every IVF plan, the doctors plan to terminate fertilized cells - human beings - if they have deformities. That is, they choose to get rid of people with disabilities just because they have disabilities. Talk about mean and nasty!

I cannot believe you are saying in this article that a child born out of IVF is born without the love between a mother and father.

We never said that, you are projecting your feelings on us. Of course parents who go get a child by IVF love the child. The point we made was different: that the love of these parents for the IVF baby is not the love contained in the conjugal act that puts the spouses' procreative faculties at the feet of the other spouse's love, AND puts both at the feet of God's creative act, so that the child (if any) is conceived within the very context of an act of love that humbly accepts God's role in creation (and accepts his choice whether to bring about a child or not) and humbly submits to God's design for sexuality to integrate love and procreation. Whatever else is the case, the parental choice to use IVF is the choice to side-step the human-divine three-way partnership for reproduction being integrated so as to relate love of God, love of spouse, and love of child into a reflection of the Trinitarian love in God.

My child, born out of the IVF process, is NOT a product and NOT born without love.

If you were to read carefully here, instead of just emoting over everything, you would have noticed that neither Lydia nor I ever said that the CHILD is a PRODUCT. What we have said is that the child was produced in the manner we produce products - with technology and with commercially-based decisions about quality, etc. The acts of the doctors, lab technicians, and the parents have been acts like commercial acts because they are in part carried out with those sorts of added features - including contracts and payments. So, although the CHILD is a human being and entitled to the dignity of being conceived in the human way - in the intimacy of the conjugal act that expresses permanent, unconditional love and expresses openness to God's choice whether to create a child or not, the IVF child was produced in another manner altogether, a manner that shares a likeness with the way we produce products. Thus the acts of the doctors and parents rob the child of the treatment his human dignity entitles him to. We are not characterizing the child at all, we are characterizing the manner of actions of the parents and doctors.

You are an embarrassment to a more honest and empathetic debate about the controversies of IVF.

That's approximately like saying that an article detailing the dangers of snake bites and how to treat them is not sufficiently "empathetic" to snakes. Snakes need to live, too!

We are being empathetic to the child, and to all children everywhere who need to grow up in a civilization where the family is an integral unity protected from government harm, social damage, and commercial manipulation. You prefer to emote over other things, such as the feelings of a couple (not necessarily married) or a single woman, who cannot have a child through normal conception. You refuse to even ASK whether those feelings should trump the good of the child and a healthy family structure in society, you don't even care about those goods.

Suppose that slavery were still considered moral and that it were legal. If abolitionists said that slavery is "treating human beings as commodities to be bought and sold," I can pretty much predict that nowadays someone would come along and say that this is insulting not only to slaveowners but also to slaves, because it is saying that slaves are "commodities."

For a long time IVF proponents have played a game of hostage-holding. If you disapprove of the adults' method of reproduction, you are being cruel and unaccepting of the child. I refuse to bargain with hostage-holders.

As for IVF babies not being designer babies, really? Well, I suppose that some people might successfully insist to the lab that they want the child selected for implantation at random, but probably not. In fact, almost certainly not. Usually the embryos selected for implantation attempts are those expected by lab workers' visual morphological screening to have the best probability of survival. Beyond that, embryos are not infrequently selected still more rigorously using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. AKA designer babies.

But that is just icing on the cake. As Tony points out, the lab process of bringing a human being into existence is intrinsically a failure rightly to acknowledge the worth of the human being.

my appologies in advance for lack of capitalization and some punctuation. my keyboard is not working properly at the moment.

anyway hoo... i have read good pros and cons in the article and in the comment section, but i would like to throw out a question. if this is not directly affecting you, why do you care?

i mean, is it hurting you? is it physically hurting you? no.

if a woman wants to have ivf, im not paying the bill... im not raising the child... i have nothing to do with it and im going to keep myself out of her business and i think everyone else should do the same. mind your business!

i kind of find this article is quietly bashing technological advances in science and medicine. we live and breathe technology and science everyday. the day the caveman made the first wheel, we were on the way to an advanced society. there have always been people trying to stop scientific and medical advances in the name of morality and religion since the beginnin and if those people would have not been in the way, our society would be far more advanced than it is now. we could have found a cure of cancer and aids long ago or have flying cars and other things we consider futuristic right now. if the thought of advanced thinking scares you or offends your moral code, i suggest you find a primative tribe to join.

oh, and for everyone screaming out in the name of morality and god and religion, think on this. jesus christ hung out with hookers and criminals. if jesus didnt care about the actions of the people, then neither should you. mind your business.

i mean, is it hurting you? is it physically hurting you? no.

Nor does someone murdering a stranger I don't know hurting me, but I can still experience moral outrage over the act of murder.

"It doesn't directly harm you!" is one of the weakest forms of moral argumentation.

Don't feed the trolls. My advice. :-)

I doubt that one will be back. I just hate letting that particularly flabby argument go unopposed, since it's used to cover a multitude of social evils.

To suggest that a child conceived by IVF is not conceived in love is misguided and utterly untrue. On the contrary, a child conceived by IVF is so wanted and loved before their existence. Undergoing IVF is not about wanting a child in the sense of "I want a baby", it is about wanting to be part of a family, to come home to the joys of children and even the grumpiness of teenagers. Personally for me, I could not contemplate how to live a life without a family. A huge piece of me has been missing.

I am fortunate, I am now pregnant from my only IVF cycle. It is not a process that anyone takes on without thinking deeply about the ethics surrounding the process. Of my 5 eggs, all five fertilised. My husband and I were overjoyed, but agonised over what would become of our 5 children. They were never in our minds a bunch of cells. 2 did not develop beyond fertilisation, 2 developed abnormally probably due to chromosome problems unrelated to the IVF process. The loss of four of our embryos was devastating and we grieved that they never survived. But we feel incredibly blessed to now be expecting our first child.

It is wrong to think that an IVF child is not conceived in love. On the contrary trying to get pregnant with our child with IVF was a period of the development of an even closer bond. We were together through each and every part of the creation of our child. We were parted for 72 hours whilst our child was in an incubator, but we were able to see them be placed back into me, where they should have been. Seeing your child as an 8 cell embryo being placed into my womb was like watching a little piece of magic. It glowed against the greyness of the ultrasound. The maternal instinct to protect my child was there before he or she was even placed back within me. Now, they are growing and developing. I have just seen him or her moving and seen their heart beating.

IVF could be abused, but I'm fairly that anyone undergoing IVF has thought long and hard about undertaking such a physically and mentally hard journey. Many people who are able to conceive naturally do not conceive out of love. Many children who are brought into the world conventionally are not loved or nurtured.

IVF has truly been a miracle for my husband and me.

Wendy, if you did attempt the implantation of all five embryos (which is what I take you to be saying), that was more than many couples do, and I applaud that ethical decision.

I still disagree with the nature of that method of child conception. The sexual act is the *act* of love between the couple. My points concerning the conception of IVF children were not that IVF children cannot be loved nor that a man and a woman who conceive IVF children do not or canno love each other. Rather, the conception of the child has been separated from the act of love between husband and wife. There is therefore one irreducible sense in which the child of IVF is a technologically "made" entity. That is a problem in and of itself, even if the embryos thus conceived are treated, as much as possible under the circumstances, as fully human, rights-bearing individuals from that point on out. (Which is more often than not not the case. In fact, IVF lab workers are usually tasked to throw out embryos that do not have a visual appearance associated with successful implantation.)

I chose to do IVF instead of adopting, and I am very happy that I did so. I have no guilt at all about how my own child came into the world.

I am happy that I planned to have my child, and that she is a wanted child. Losers who go out, get drunk, have sex and oops! become pregnant, and then want help from everyone else to pay for the child - or worse, tried to demand that someone adopt the child and pay for his upbringing. These are the people who have no respect for human life, because they became pregnant so irresponsibly and carelessly.

How many children conceived through IVF wind up in foster homes? Almost ZERO. These are wanted children, their parents planned for them for years and most IVF patients can well afford their children!

I am sorry that some people feel so offended and uncomfortable about how my daughter was conceived, but its really none of their business. She is just as entitled to be born and live here on this earth, as any other human being.

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