Saturday, November 21. 2009
Human embryos are human life. No matter how much society wants them to just be some batch of cells with no more moral worth than a blood sample, it just doesn't work. We know they are worth more than that. Case in point: this Boston Globe article all about the difficult decisions facing parents of frozen "left-over" IVF embryos. Story after story, parents of these frozen offspring are conflicted about what to do with their "extras." If embryos are simply a ball of cells no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence and nothing more, then why the conflict? I'll let this woman explain it in her own words:
Oh the truth is so pesky. And here is Linda, who calls herself "Catholic, but pro-choice," on her "left-overs":
What is so astonishing is the new ways in which parents are now dealing with this very difficult moral dilemma. Traditionally, there have been three options for parents: 1. Donate the embryos to research, 2. Donate embryos to another infertile couple to adopt, or 3. throw them in the biohazard waste.
Apparently none of these choices suits parents who instinctively know these are their children. They do not like the idea of offering them up to science, nor the thought of them being thrown out with the trash. They like the idea of another couple raising their children even less. So some parents are requesting "disposal ceremonies" or what this article calls "compassionate transfers":
So some parents want something akin to a funeral for their embryos or they wait till they know it is unlikely that they can get pregnant again and have the embryos implanted. Or they refuse the hormones that would make the implantation successful.
These requests are a symptom of what parents know to be the truth. That IVF embryos are not just human life, but they are life that has value.
I do not know what the Catholic Church would say to these practices since they have yet to rule on the whether embryo adoption is moral. Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, suggests that aside from parents taking responsibility and implanting all their embryos with the intent of getting pregnant, the only moral thing to do with "left-over" IVF embryos is nothing. Fr. Tad states:
I do know the Catholic Church would remind these couples that this is a choice that never should have to be made. These embryos should never have been mass produced in a laboratory in the first place.
What is most obvious is that infertile couples are not thinking about the consequences of producing extra embryos with IVF. They are then left with a moral dilemma no parent should have to face. It is critical that Catholics, religious and lay alike, remind infertile couples of this impending dilemma BEFORE they get swept up in the IVF machine. It is not politically correct, and they may never speak to you again, but it is so very necessary.
I am reminded of the time I was approached by a woman after a talk I gave about stem cell research and cloning where I exposed this dark-side of IVF. This woman was hopping mad. She said that IVF "was the ONLY way her son could have a child!" She asked what business the Church had telling her that she cannot have grandchildren. My response must have come straight from God, because I had no idea it was about to come out of my mouth. I said, "How do you feel about having grandchildren on ice?"
At that moment she understood.
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I may have to steal your "(children) on ice" line-- I have a heck of a time explaining to folks why I don't like IVF in a way they understand.
When I found out I'm a carrier for cystic fibrosis, in prenatal screening, something I really didn't approve of. Apparently it was just apart of the prenatal work-up. I thought to myself is as ab embryo, even if I didn't have CF myself, "I" wouldn't be chosen in fear of passing on the gene. Brought the subject up to my parents, they turned against IVF also. Hard with it is so common, where I live in Massachusetts. People wait to have have kids.
I think the church has already spoken clear on such issues such as “embryo adoption” in the instruction Dignitas Personae given by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith (CDF) last year. Due to the fact that “The Church moreover holds that it is ethically unacceptable to dissociate procreation from the integrally personal context of the conjugal act: (where) human procreation is a personal act of a husband and wife, which is not capable of substitution;” therfore it would still be unacceptable for others to “adopt” embryos and do the same thing, even though the intent is to save them. It goes back to the saying that the end doesn’t justify the means. The CDF letter goes on to rightly state that,
“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.
All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore John Paul II made an "appeal to the conscience of the world's scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, 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 fear the logic is flawed; the embryos are already procreated, and are thus more analogous to infants born of rape than to getting IVF because you can't have kids.
As the USCCB site puts it:
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. "Cryopreservation is incompatible with the respect owed to human embryos," the Instruction states.
And this from one of the folks involved in writing DP:
Speaking at the Dec. 12 Vatican press conference to explain the document, Bishop Elio Sgreccia -- former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who helped prepare the Vatican's new bioethics document -- told reporters: "The basic advice, explicitly stated in the document, is that embryos must not be frozen. It is one of those actions that has no remedy. Once it is done, correcting it implies committing another error."
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, current president of the academy, told reporters that "the discussion is still open" and the Vatican has not completely ruled out the possibility of embryo adoption, although it is leaning toward an entirely negative judgment because embryo adoption involves the future parents in an immoral process.
But according to that reasoning, Smith said, "How is the traditionally adoptive couple not also participating in an immoral act -- in many cases they're assisting the unwed mother who had sex outside marriage."
"I believe the church not only condones adoption; it helps carry them out," he added. "Should not the church not only accept, but actively support, the rescue of frozen embryos?"
The document specifically cited ethical norms that make "artificial heterologous procreation illicit as well as any form of surrogate motherhood."
Foxfier, I think you missed the point. The fact that the embryos are procreated is not the concern; it is the way they come about. Unlike an embryo produced in a lab outside of sexual intercourse, those produce naturally, through intercourse, inside the women’s body is what makes the difference.
I’m not sure how you can say that a couple adopting a child from a rape victim is the same as adopting a frozen embryo, because in one case you have a couple waiting for their child to be born, while in the other case the couple participates in what the church has already determine to be an unacceptable treatment of infertility which substitute for the conjugal act. There is nothing analogous about this.
In fact the document states:
“With regard to the treatment of infertility, new medical techniques must respect three fundamental goods: a) the right to life and to physical integrity of every human being from conception to natural death; b) the unity of marriage, which means reciprocal respect for the right within marriage to become a father or mother only together with the other spouse; c) the specifically human values of sexuality which require "that the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses…”
”In light of this principle, ALL TECHNIQUES OF HETEROLOGOUS ARTIFICIAL FERTILIZATION, AS WELL AS THOSE TECHNIQUES OF HOMOLOGOUS ARTIFICIAL FERTILIZATION which substitute for the conjugal act, are to be excluded.”
I will also add that on the USCCB website, it states that Dignitas Personae is part of the universal ordinary magisterium, in which all Catholics must adhere with religious assent. So I would argue that just because you read a few opinion pieces about how the discussion maybe still open, I would stick to the document that received the Popes authoritative approval.
As I quoted, the USCC does not agree with your interpretation.
If you go to the link above and go through to the document for the full statement in context, it becomes clear that the "various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above" is referring to the use of abandoned embryonic humans to treat infertility (down under 19, pg 11), rather than linking the adoption to a divorcing of sex from procreation (up in 16, pg 9) as you imply.
It's worrisome, not disallowed-- you're quite welcome to stick to documents with the Pope's authority behind them, but you've still got to stick with what the documents actually say instead of what you want them to say.
Foxfier I think you are just playing semantics now. First, I would be careful holding to USCCB quote so high the standard to back your interpretation as most would know, ambiguous statements have plaque the USCCB for quite some time. The USCCB have announced that they will be releasing an official (hopefully much clearer) statement soon on married love and reproductive technology, reinforcing a lot of what Dignitas Personae had already said, so I would hold of on championing your interpretation until then.
Secondly you must read the entire CDF document in context and keep in mind that no part of the teaching can contradict itself. Meaning if the church has already established that any form of surrogate motherhood is unacceptable, then what morally licit form or technique of insemination, which does not substitute for the conjugal act, would a women use to get that embryo inside her womb?
The best conclusion we could come up with is that, for right now, embryo adoption is out of the question until further notice. I contend that you should take you own advice and not try to find loop holes to make the CDF document say what you want it to say.
I'm not playing. Given that lives are at stake, neither should you.
The text says something very specific-- "semantics" is the proper meaning of words, and is extremely important.
It boils down to this:
Folks who WROTE it say that it's interpreted X way.
The local conference of Bishops says it's interpreted X way.
No direct statement from the Pope exists.
You, random guy on the internet, says it really says Y, and try to claim the Pope's authority to back that up.
I find it highly ironic that YOU are saying I need to read the whole thing in context-- when you're the one who was taking things out of context!
If the the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith meant to say "embryo adoption is not morally acceptable"-- they would have. If the Pope intended to get that across, he would have.
You need to stop trying to force the document to say what you want it to say, instead of what it does say.
Grave doubts just aren't good enough for you? Too bad, you'll have to wait until clarification is offered-- and the only folks I know that are going to put out a document on embryonic adoption are the USCCB, which is a much less effective club for your views.
As it stands, though there are doubts about embryo adoption, it is morally allowed to be chosen "solely in order to allow human beings to be born who are
otherwise condemned to destruction."
What you are doing is akin to the folks who try to claim that war and self defense are immoral, because the ten commandments say "thou shalt not kill."
Sorry Foxfier, but I think I missed the part of the document where it states that embryo adoption is “morally allowed”. Can you point to the section where those exact words are recorded? You can’t, because if it did the document would have to contradict an earlier statement, that’s the point.
This is why it states abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. So if this situation cannot be resolved, then where in the world are you getting the idea that it has been resolved and thus “morally allowed”? Where do you get the idea that just because it is not stated explicitly that the idea of embryo adoption is up for grabs? As I try to explain before, your interpretation cannot work without contradicting earlier statements of the CDF document.
If you want to interpret the statement to mean there are still “grave doubts”, which I don’t think it does, by all means WAIT until the church pronounces that it is “morally allowed”; but until then I’d stick to the pronouncements the church has already made and take that to heart.
I don't think that the church has a place in this argument, just as they don't have a place in the abortion argument. Couples who want to conceive through this method must decide for themselves when life truly begins and how far they are willing to go when it comes to the disposal of embryos. If they aren't going to use the extras then why keep them? Especially with the grave fees that they have to pay the fertility clinic. So if they cannot bear to think of disposing of the embryos, then there are millions of children waiting to be adopted.
That which is not expressly disallowed is allowed.
That said, the start of life is not in question-- science has settled it long ago, at the moment egg meets sperm.
Killing a person is expressly disallowed.
I hope that some day you and your partner suffer the debilitating devestation of infertility and are faced with childlessness and that there are no options to create a family other than IVF.
Your vitriol to IVF users is disgusting. You take the moral highground and use your religion as a sidekick to justify your opinion.
Jesus had compassion for the sick and ill. Where is yours? Non-existent.
There is vitriol here but I am not the one spewing it. There are ways to treat infertility without making lots of excess embryos leaving clinics and parents at a loss for what to do with these unwanted offspring. My point in this post is simply that no one really thinks about the "left-overs" until it is too late. And no matter how much people want to insist these embryos are of no value, these rituals prove that indeed they do have value.
I have compassion not only for the infertile but also for the half a million lives created and then left in the deep freeze, or donated to science, or abandoned by their parents.
Basic facts are "vitriol"?
No. The vitriol here is you, wishing ill and not responding to the facts.
I'm sorry you were so bound up in your pain and desires that you risked those very longed for children, and abandoned the rest once you got what you wanted.
If your bile is rhetorical, or for a third party, I'm sorry you're too blinded by desire to care about all the children involved.
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