Friday, June 27. 2014
This story is so heartbreaking and so indicative of the complicated ethical web the fertility industry has spun. Gracie Crane is a UK teenage girl full of angst, but not the kind that troubles most teenagers. She was adopted as a "leftover" IVF embryo. Gracie keenly feels the loss of her genetic roots, but the law in the UK prevents her from ever knowing who her biological parents are. The pain is so acute, some days she says she wishes she were never born.
Continue reading at LifeNews>>
Tuesday, March 4. 2014
(Image from New Scientist)
Wednesday, January 22. 2014
This personal narrative by Ali Margo at ELLE about her experience with the fertility industry will break your heart. She chronicles her two rounds of IVF that end with a call from the clinic telling her that all 20 of her embryos are dead. Read between the lines and you will find greed, exploitation and snake-oil. Margo paints a very unflattering picture of a billion dollar industry that she points out has a 70% failure rate. Here are some excerpts from "$47,000 Dollars Later, I Have No Baby: The IVF Scam":
“You think your uterus is why you’re here, but that’s not why you’re here,” the fertility doctor said, sitting behind his desk in a crisp white lab coat, his name embroidered in bright blue thread. His smile was broad and slightly distorted. He reminded me of a car salesman.20 embryos dead! Price for human life! Indeed, is this what medicine should be?
In the end, Margo says she is not considering adoption because IVF has taken away all of her money and her hope. Prayers are needed for her family, including her lost little ones.
Bravo to Margo for telling the truth about her experience and not sugar-coating it. She is the first writer I have read that has called IVF a scam. Hopefully, she will not be the last.
Wednesday, January 1. 2014
This e-mail from a reader broke my heart. It is a cry for help from a young IVF-conceived woman who mourns the loss of her siblings that didn't make it. It is also a look at the darker-side of IVF that no one wants to talk about: the massive loss of life inherent in the IVF process. She writes:
I was wondering if you knew of any websites or resources that support people struggling after being conceived using IVF. I've been searching and searching online, and I've been unable to find a single source of advice.The support groups I know of are for those conceived with donor gametes. I do not know of any support groups for those conceived with IVF without donor sperm or egg.
Does anyone know of a group that could help this young woman? Her pain is very real, but I am sure when she talks about it, she is dismissed and told that she should just be grateful for her life. She needs others who can understand what she is feeling.
Monday, August 19. 2013
Could it be that people are starting to notice that the fertility industry puts parental desire and profits above the health and well-being of children?
Looks that way in the United Kingdom. The Telegraph reports on a study to reduce regulation costs where the authors recommend that fertility clinics be required to report complications:
Safety drive to stop IVF clinics putting profit before embryosIf only the lawmakers in the United States were willing to look closely at our fertility clinics which remain the "wild west" of the fertility industry around the world. Only in the United States would cost-conscious couples be able to get cheaper embryos made in bulk.
I think if we took a very close look at what goes on in the fertility clinic we would be shocked and horrified by the full scale commodification of human life.
Wednesday, May 22. 2013
In manufacturing, quality control (QC) is very important. A manufacturer always wants to put out the best product and eliminate defective merchandise.
The same is true of IVF. With as many as 30 embryos created for every live birth, doctors are always on the look out for ways to separate the robust embryos from the "defective" ones to improve their success rates. Previously this was achieved by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD.) In PGD, a single cell is removed from the days old embryo and tested for genetic anomalies. The ones that pass the test get a chance at being transferred to their mother's womb. The others...well they are defective so no need to mention what happens to them, right?
PGD is expensive and invasive to the embryo, so an IVF clinic in Britain has developed a new way to QC embryos: time-lapsed photography. Those embryos that reach a certain stage slower than their counterparts are deemed "high risk."
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report>>
Tuesday, May 21. 2013
I don't think I could have found anything less "scientific" from a website called "ScienceAlert." A group in Australia has taken up the challenge of reforming the laws regarding "left-over" IVF embryos there. Currently, many embryos are destroyed every year because of mandatory storage limits.
This group began the "Enhancing Reproductive Opportunity Research Project" to address the concerns of women over the destruction of their embryos mandated by law.
It sounds like a good idea. From ScienceAlert:
We found that current IVF rules on issues such as storage limits and destruction practices are intrusive and disrespectful. Mandatory time limits in some states compel destruction of stored embryos after ten years, for instance, while rules in other states prevent a surviving partner from deciding on the use or donation of embryos.So what did this group decide after surveying 400 couples in over 20 clinics across Australia? This:
We don’t believe that embryos should be granted a moral or legal significance in and of themselves as distinct entities. Rather, their value is relational – embryos matter because of what they mean to those for whom they were generated. This meaning is intensely personal, and infinitely variable.What? Embryos only matter because of how their parents feel about them? Their moral status is "infinitely variable?" What drivel!
I thought to myself who came up with this most nonobjective analysis of the moral and legal status of the human embryo? It looks to be a group of highly-educated women. I should have been tipped off when ScienceAlert reported that this was a "feminist-oriented approach." I wonder how this group would take to someone asserting that their worth was only defined by the value that men gave them.
Frankly, I feel insulted by this conclusion. Could a group of women with a feminist approach not come up with something with more objectivity and clarity? Is this not simply playing into the stereotype of women making decisions on feelings instead of reason? I know plenty of smart women who could come up with something more substantial and less capricious.
I suppose this is a symptom of the illness of our times. We live in a world where the unborn have no worth unless their parents "feel" that they do. It is true that in our arguably uncivilized society, the unborn's value is "relational."
We need to be reminded that we are not talking about human beings in the abstract, but real human organisms that just happen to be our own offspring. How disconnected have we become that we can call the value of our own children "infinitely variable?"
Wednesday, May 8. 2013
Aussie boy: "Hey Ma, where are we going on vacation this year?"
Aussie mom: "We are doing something very special. We are going to circumvent the laws of our country and we are going to travel all the way to Thailand, stay in a fancy hotel for a week, and buy you a little sister!"
Aussie boy: "Good onya, Ma!"
If you are an Aussie couple dying to have a girl or boy, forget about the ban on sex-selective IVF and let Global Health Travel of Australia set it all up for you! Airfare, luxury accommodations and the child of your choice.
Continue reading at Creative Minority Report >>
Monday, April 29. 2013
A study done by Swedish researchers has shown that couples that choose to adopt after failed IVF reported being happier than even couples who conceived naturally. From the Telegraph:
But a new study has found that, for those who go on to adopt, the earlier heartbreak can ultimately make for a happier family.Of course this finding goes against the profit-seeking strategy of the IVF clinics that will keep taking a desperate couple's money for multiple failed attempts to get pregnant. I doubt the clinics will tell couples that they could really happy if they would adopt. But the researchers think this knowledge should be conveyed at a much earlier stage. Co-author Professor Marie Berg:
"The results show that it can be important to consider adoption as soon as couples seek medical help for infertility, especially now that we know that adoption enhances quality of life.And some people are taking notice:
The researchers said it suggested that childless couples should be urged to consider adoption at a much earlier stage. It is a finding which boost the education secretary Michael Gove's drive to increase adoption rates in the UK.There is one giant elephant in the room though. How can adoption rates increase if we keep aborting millions of children every year? We don't often think of abortion as a driving force for couples to seek IVF, but with "unwanted" babies being aborted instead of given a chance at life with a loving couple, the heartbreak of being childless drive many to straight to the IVF clinic.
This study maybe an important finding for both women with "unwanted" pregnancies and infertile couples a like. Adoption does bring happiness.
Wednesday, January 16. 2013
See the Church was totally wrong when she said that removing sex from procreation would turn procreation into manufacture and the next generation into a commodity. IVF is only for infertile couples desperate to have a child. It will NEVER lead to the buying and selling of human beings.
Except that it did. William Saletan has it exactly right in his Slate piece "The Embryo Factory: The business logic of made-to-order babies" about Jennalee Ryan who doesn't sell egg and sperm. She sells made-to-order embryos. Saletan writes:
It's temping to label Ryan a madwoman, as many critics have. But that's exactly wrong. Ryan represents the next wave of industrial rationality. She's bringing the innovations of Costco and Burger King to the business of human flesh....When Slate begins to spot the man behind the curtain, it is time to sit up and take notice America. We are allowing the wholesale buying and selling of the next generation. It is time to get some laws regulating the fertility industry like every other sane nation in the world. It is time to stop looking at children like they are the latest accessory and start revering them as begotten, not made. Again, I pull out this quote from William E. May:
"When a child is begotten through the conjugal act, he comes to be as a gift from God, a gift crowning the spouse's mutual gift of themsleves to each other. When a child is 'produced' it comes to be, not as a gift from God, which in truth it is, but as a product of human control."
Tuesday, January 8. 2013
This is depressing. Costa Rica, the only country to have an outright ban on IVF because IVF creates and destroys human life on an industrial scale, has been told by a "human rights" court that they have to abandon their prohibition.
You would think that the numbers recently reported by the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority would bolster Costa Rica's case. In the UK, nearly 2 million IVF embryos have been created and then simply been discarded "unused." These shocking numbers prompted Lord Alton to say:
“It happens on a day-by-day basis with casual indifference. This sheer destruction of human embryos – most people would not know that it took place on such a scale."But it seems that the mythical "right to have a child anyway I see fit" is more important than the very real "right to life." From the Costa Rica Star:
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) has overturned a prohibition on IVF in Costa Rica saying that it infringed provisions under the American Convention on Human Rights.There is so much misdirection here I cannot handle it. First IVF does not "treat" infertility. It does not attempt to fix any of the causes of infertility. It only mass produces offspring in a dish in a desperate attempt to give parents a child. NaPro Technology actually addresses problem that is causing infertility so couples can get pregnant naturally, and not just once, but again and again. That is real treatment for the infertile.
Second, I know activists have been trying to keep pushing the definition of conception as far away from fertilization that they possible can, but I thought implantation was the farthest away they could get. But now the moment of conception takes place "after implantation"? How far after exactly? Pretty soon "human rights" courts are going to be telling that the moment of conception is right before birth. As Dr. Antony Caruso, an American reproductive endocrinologist, points out this ruling may set a dangerous precedent. He warned:
“The court appears to have radically changed the legal definition of conception, and is applying an artificial description to a natural process. Indeed, this could have a far reaching impact.”And last but not least is the idea that childlessness is a somehow a human rights issue. Not just any human rights issue, but one that is more important than the right to life. This is the money quote:
Piero Tozzi, legal counsel with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organisation of Christian leaders, said: ‘A preliminary reading of the ruling indicates that the Court elevated secondary rights-such as the right to privacy, a right to personal autonomy, and a right to sexual and reproductive health-above the right to life, which by necessity takes precedence over all the other rights’.This is the world we live in. The right to life should trump all others but unfortunately it is shoved to the back of the line behind the "right to sexual health."
Looks like Costa Rica is going to bow to international pressure and comply with the court's demands which is really a tragedy since they were a beacon of reason in a ever increasing sea of emotional relativity.
Tuesday, November 20. 2012
If you still doubt that in vitro fertilization (IVF) has commodified children and turned human procreation into human manufacturing to specifications, then read this LA Times story about a fertility doctor that is creating embryos in bulk, from one sperm donor and one egg donor, so that couples can get "discount" embryos:
In the cutthroat field of fertility treatments, Dr. Ernest Zeringue sharply cuts costs by creating a single batch of embryos, then divvying it up among several patients. One 'horrified' critic calls it the 'commodification of children.'So Zeringue's clinic is the Costco of the fertility industry. Cheap prices on lots of inventory with no choice as to what he carries. Nice. You know it's bad when a fertility lawyer is horrified.
Hat Tip: Wesley J. Smith
Wednesday, September 5. 2012
It doesn't get more surreal than weighing the pros and cons of using fresh versus previously frozen IVF embryos as if they are chicken breasts headed for your favorite recipe. From Medical Xpress:
Doctor calls for debate on using frozen versus fresh embryos for IVF proceduresIn this fresh vs. frozen debate, will some doctor suggest placing all embryos in anti-freeze and freezing them, making sure only the "stronger embryos survive"? I mean really people, when is the world going to wake up and see IVF for what it is: human manufacturing on a gigantic scale complete with quality control assessments?
Tuesday, August 28. 2012
Why not? He or she is just a ball of cells, a blastocyst. Why would you even care? Maybe because the lives of "spare" IVF embryos do matter. Let Australian Jen Vuk's testimony to her growing anxiety over what to do with her last frozen offspring speak a warning to the practice of the mass production of embryos in IVF. Jen writes:
And, in fact, each bill that arrives in the mail is a step closer to that foreboding 10-year mark when we'll have to decide the blastocyst's fate, as is the case under NSW and Victoria's assisted reproduction laws. Strange, but it feels almost as if we're being asked to choose a favourite child....Despair is what comes from creating multiple offspring in a dish, and then deciding there is no room in your life for the "left-overs."
Monday, August 6. 2012
More evidence that the fertility industry is engaged in human experimentation. For years pro-lifers like myself have been screaming that fertility doctors have been experimenting on women and children with whatever new technique might increase pregnancy statistics and with little thought to safety or long-term effects.
As BioEdge reports, a new review in the Journal of Reproductive BioMedicine Online, written by scientists in the field, reiterates that idea that in the fertility industry, many have a "let's see if it works and ask questions about safety later" and "it's OK because these couples are desperate" outlook. Rachel Brown and Joyce Harper write:
In 1978, the first child conceived by IVF was born. In the following 33 years, numerous technologies and techniques have been developed to further aid the ability to achieve pregnancies in couples for whom natural conception has failed. However, these techniques have rarely been robustly tested and approved before they are routinely offered to infertile couples. In other cases, a development in our scientific understanding of a technique has failed to be quickly incorporated into clinical changes. This raises the concern that some of the techniques offered to some patients offer little or no benefit, and in the worse cases is not confirmed to be safe. This is a particular concern as many of the techniques discussed here are often reserved for already vulnerable patients, such as those with recurrent IVF failure. [Emphasis added]I am reminded of this quote by Veronica Thomas, writer of the blog Children Have Rights - Say No to Repro Tech:
Scientists suspect that embryos that have developed in petri dishes are slightly different in some ways from embryos that develop in the womb, but they are still working out the specifics. They have some indications that IVF embryos are more likely to have certain genetic diseases and developmental problems. but they still need more data.... In other words, if you're an IVF child, then you are a walking human experiment. Scientists are waiting to see what will happen to you as you get older, so that they can complete their data collections on the effects of IVF on people.It is interesting that the Brown and Harper acknowledge that current approaches to infertility do not address the actual problem. They write:
Current techniques do not ‘cure’ infertility, they just overcome it... The most appropriate focus of future research may be to restore fertility.They go on to talk about gene therapy in the precursor to sperm cells (which the Church would find morally acceptable because it would allow conception to take place naturally if it was proven to be safe) but do not mention NaPro Technology.
NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) is the ethical way to treat infertility. Developed by Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, NaPro Technology focuses on a woman's reproductive health and "provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system." Thirty years of studying hormonal changes in a woman's cycle and the underlying causes of infertility has culminated in an alternative way to treat infertility that does not replace sexual intercourse or create life outside the body.
NaPro Technology has great results as well. NaPro Technology has been shown to be 3 times more effective than IVF. Couples that failed with IVF succeeded with NaPro Technology. It is cheaper than IVF, does not require egg retrieval, and since it treats the underlying cause of infertility, it allows for couples to get pregnant again and again. NaPro Technology has also been proven effective in preventing miscarriage and premature births. To find a NaPro Technology provider near you visit The Fertility Care Centers of America.
Tuesday, July 24. 2012
The Singularity Hub reports that recently the International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies estimates 5 million children have been born using IVF since 1978. Writer David Hill says, "It’s time to applaud fertility specialists for all their baby making efforts," and "Chalk up another win for technology."
This is the typical approach to IVF. Stop scrutinizing after you see the cute, bouncing baby. Rarely does anyone turn IVF over to look at the dark under belly of mass commodifying and manufacturing of human life.
If 5 million children have been born, how many lives have been created then lost, destroyed or frozen? I don't think we can ever know for sure, but we may guess.
The United Kingdom's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) monitors the fertility industry there. At a request from Lord Alton on the numbers of embryos created with IVF in the UK, the HFEA reported that for every 1 live birth as many as 30 embryos are created. As reported by the Daily Mail:
The figures show that 3,144,386 embryos have been created in UK laboratories since the passage of the 1991 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. A total of 1,455,832 embryos were discarded in the course of treatment, 101,605 were given for research in destructive experiments, and 764,311 were frozen for later use.So as long as everyone is estimating, if 5 million children have been born, and around 30 embryos are created for every live birth, it may mean that as many as a 150 million lives have been created with many lost, discarded or destroyed by research. Some of those 150 million human lives are still on ice waiting for a chance to finish their lives. Many will die waiting.
As Lord Alton said to the Mail, "We are creating and destroying human embryos on an industrial scale."
I personally call that a tragedy not a "win for technology."
Wednesday, July 18. 2012
Cattle. Livestock to be pumped with hormones, their health be damned, to produce a valuable product. I am convinced this is how the fertility industry sees women.
The New York Times has an article on "high-dose IVF" that seems to bolster my opinion. In the United States and in the UK, IVF practitioners flood women with high doses of hormones to get as many eggs as possible. Even though this is not good for the health of the women or the children that result, and there is a low-dose alternative that is cheaper and better for mother and child, these IVF docs cling to the high doses approach because it means higher "success rates." From the article:
OHSS [ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome] is a little-known complication of fertility treatments that rely on high doses of hormones, which are standard in the United States and the United Kingdom; the syndrome is not the only health problem to be linked to in vitro fertilization. Fertility clinics in Europe and Japan have turned to a safer, low-dose form of IVF, but clinics here have largely resisted on the grounds that the success rates for low-dose IVF are not as high.Read that again. High-dose IVF: a leading cause of maternal mortality. Ten percent get OHSS. Ten percent!!! That is ten out of every 100 women. With millions of women having undergone IVF...well you do the math. What craziness is this?
What a reckless disregard for the health of both infertile women, egg donors and the precious product, the children! But this is par for the course in the fertility industry. See if it works first, then ask questions about the health ramifications later as evidenced by the creation of genetically modified children by IVF a decade ago.
Guinea pigs. That must be what we women look like to fertility docs because it seems they don't care to look into what these drugs do to us or our children long term:
One recent study suggested that high-dose IVF contributes to lower birth weights, compared with the babies of women who receive minimal doses of hormones. And experts have debated for decades whether IVF contributes to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer; studies have reached conflicting conclusions.You would think. But this is more evidence that the fertility industry is not about women's health. It is about human manufacturing to specifications.
Let me remind readers that there is an alternative to IVF for infertility. NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology) is the ethical way to treat infertility. Developed by Thomas W. Hilgers, MD, NaPro Technology focuses on a woman's reproductive health and "provides medical and surgical treatments that cooperate completely with the reproductive system." Thirty years of studying hormonal changes in a woman's cycle and the underlying causes of infertility has culminated in an alternative way to treat infertility that does not replace sexual intercourse or create life outside the body.
NaPro Technology has great results as well. NaProTechnology has been shown to be 3 times more effective than IVF. Couples that failed with IVF succeeded with NaPro Technology. It is cheaper than IVF, does not require egg retrieval, and since it treats the underlying cause of infertility, it allows for couples to get pregnant again and again. NaPro Technology has also been proven effective in preventing miscarriage and premature births. To find a NaPro Technology provider near you visit The Fertility Care Centers of America.
Wednesday, May 23. 2012
The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that children conceived posthumously with IVF are not entitled to Social Security survivor benefits. In 1939, the Social Security Administration put in a provision that allowed dependent children to collect their parent's benefits as survivors. In 1939 they did not have a crazy fertility industry willing to make children en masse for any reason for anyone. So the 1939 definition of "dependent child" was open for interpretation in 2012.
On Monday the Court, decided on Astrue vs. Capato against the Capatos. Before Robert Capato died of cancer, he banked his sperm. A year later his widow, Karen Capato, used that sperm to create IVF embryos and gave birth to twins. Karen applied to Social Security for "survivor" benefits for the twins. Those benefits were denied by the SSA and now the Supreme Court has upheld their decision saying that the Capato children were never truly dependent on Robert for his wages.
This case had many facets and elicits conflicting thoughts in me. On one hand the fiscal conservative in me said, "No way!" Children knowingly conceived with the gametes of a deceased person are not entitled to survivor benefits. Once Robert died, the marriage was over making Karen a single mother.
But the Catholic pro-lifer in me realizes that this is an untenable situation for these children. They were intentionally brought into this world never to know their father. They have been wronged by an out of control fertility industry. An industry that purposefully and knowingly creates children that will never meet their father. If anyone needs our compassion and our support, it is these twins who, in this Brave New World, were forced to argue, to the Supreme Court, that they deserve their father's benefits. They are as much children of God as anyone who was naturally conceived and should not be punished for the decisions of their genetic parents.
I was not the only one who had this opinion. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, Jennifer Lahl, director of Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, Dr. Anthony Caruso, a former IVF practitioner, Stephanie Blessing and Kathleen R. LaBounty, donor-conceived adults, and Kathleen Sloan, a women's rights advocate, submitted a friend of the court brief in favor of the Capatos.
I was hoping that the Court would rule differently, not because I want to champion IVF. I wanted the Court to rule that the Capato children deserved survivor benefits to wake up America to what is going on in the fertility industry: that children are being created with the intent that they will never know their biological father. If we taxpayers have to support this practice, then for sure we would not only be aware of it, but that we have an interest in seeing that it does not continue.
In the end, the Court rule against Karen Capato 9-0 which is a clear indication that the Social Security Administration was within the law to deny survivor benefits for posthumously conceived children. Unfortunately, I don't think this case raised the kind of awareness about the practices of the IVF industry that I had hoped it would.
Saturday, May 12. 2012
What do you do when you have created 18 extra IVF embryos and you don't want to destroy them or give them away to just anyone? You put them on Craigslist of course! From WhoTV.com:
After struggling for years to have children the McCrea family had their prayers answered, and then some, thanks to In Vitro Fertilization. Now the family is sharing their extra blessings....Continue reading at Creative Minority >>
Tuesday, April 24. 2012
This is not news to readers of this blog, but here is another study that shows a significant increase in the risk of birth defects for children conceived with IVF. From MSNBC:
Babies conceived through certain fertility treatment techniques are about one-third more likely to have a birth defect than babies conceived without any extra help from technology, according to a review of several dozen studies....And yet those of us who mention this little factoid when talking about IVF are labeled as judgmental and mean-spirited. We are told that we cannot possibly comment on IVF unless we have experienced infertility.
The way to treat infertility is not to create life in a dish with greater risk of harm to the child. It is to treat the underlying cause of infertility and then let conception take place naturally, where it was intended...in the womb. For information about alternatives to IVF for infertility visit NaProTechnology.com.
Tuesday, April 17. 2012
A recent case in a Pennsylvania court held the lives of thirteen little human embryos in its hand. After she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Andrea Lynn Reiss and her husband Bret Howard Reber underwent IVF. The doctors told Ms. Reiss that she would be unfertile after the cancer treatment and so they wanted insurance against future infertility and they created 13 embryos and froze them.
Ms. Reiss completed her treatment but Mr. Reber filed for divorce. Ms. Reiss, claiming she was now infertile, wanted custody of the embryos. Mr. Reber wanted them destroyed.
The court decided for Ms. Reiss and gave her custody of the embryos saying, according to an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, that:
"Because Wife cannot achieve genetic parenthood otherwise, we conclude that Wife's interest in biological procreation through the use of these pre-embryos outweighs Husband's professed interest against procreation."
This decision is a departure from court cases in other states where the courts have decided the other way. A court in Tennessee said that unwanted parenthood would be the greater burden and ordered the embryos destroyed. Another court in Massachusetts said it "would not enforce an agreement that would compel one donor to become a parent against his or her will."
Monday, April 9. 2012
Nadya Suleman, better known as Octomom, admits that she was not in the right state of mind when she, single and mother of 6 children already, underwent more IVF to have 8 more children. From the NYDaily News:
Nadya Suleman will do anything for her octuplets, but now she admits it was a mistake to have them.
Nadya, dear, you are not alone.
Tuesday, March 27. 2012
If children are conceived through IVF after one of the parents dies, are the children entitled to the social security benefits of the deceased parent?
That is what the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding in Astrue v. Capato. Before Robert Capato died of cancer, he banked his sperm. A year later his widow, Karen Capato, used that sperm to create IVF embryos and gave birth to twins. Karen applied to Social Security for "survivor" benefits for the twins, a provision added to the Social Security Act in 1939 to provide benefits to dependents of deceased wage earners. Those benefits were denied and now the case is before the Supreme Court.
This case has many facets and elicits conflicting thoughts on how the Court should rule. On one hand the fiscal conservative in me says, "No way!" Children knowingly conceived with the gametes of a deceased person are not entitled to survivor benefits. Once Robert died, the marriage was over making Karen a single mother.
But the Catholic pro-lifer in me realizes that this is an untenable situation for these children. They were intentionally brought into this world never to know their father. They have been wronged by an out of control fertility industry that willingly creates life in a dish, en masse, for any reason, for anyone. An industry that purposefully and knowingly creates children that will never meet their father. If anyone needs our compassion and our support, it is these twins who, in this Brave New World, are forced to argue, to the Supreme Court, that they deserve their father's benefits. They are as much children of God as anyone who was naturally conceived and should not be punished for the decisions of their genetic parents.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a pro-life organization whose mission is to "give innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children, a trained and committed defense against the threat of death, and to support their advocates in the nation’s courtrooms," agrees. Along with Jennifer Lahl, director of Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, Dr. Anthony Caruso, a former IVF practitioner, Stephanie Blessing and Kathleen R. LaBounty, donor-conceived adults, and Kathleen Sloan, a women's rights advocate and Program Director at the Council for Responsible Genetics, the Life Legal Defense Fund submitted a friend of the court brief in favor of the Capatos.
Continue reading at LifeNews >>
Wednesday, February 29. 2012
The Catholic Church is often portrayed as unsympathetic to infertile couples. Because the Church finds IVF wrong, others mistakenly believe that the Church has no compassion for the pain and heartbreak of infertility. That is simply untrue. In fact, recently the Pope called for more research into the causes of infertility so that life could be created where it is supposed to be created, in a mother's womb and not in a lab.
The Church wants the best not just for the children, but for the infertile couples as well. The reality of IVF is that more embryos are made than can be transferred into the mother at one time. The "left-overs" are frozen waiting for a time they can finish their lives. The Church realizes that life happens and sometimes couples cannot (or will not) gestate their frozen offspring. This leaves some in a different kind of heartbreaking situation: what to do with their children on ice?
A reader at The Practicing Catholic has courageously told her IVF story. It is an important read for all. IVF was successful at giving this couple the children they so desperately wanted, but it has also put them in an untenable situation. The reader discusses her and her husband's struggle with infertility:
Instead of turning to God to understand why, we turned to doctors and science and began working on how to fix it. We were lost and didn’t have the foundation of the Church’s teaching to help guide us. Our primary fault was to understand that a child is a GIFT from God, not a right. We were focused on our desires, not God’s will....One heartache traded for another. Please pray for this family. I cannot imagine the difficult decisions that they are going to have to face. Also thank them for sharing their story. Their courage will hopefully be a guiding light for others.
Wednesday, December 14. 2011
I have heard countless times that parents that undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) must love their children so very much to go through such an expensive and invasive process to have children. I have no doubt that parents undergoing IVF believe they are doing what is best, but looking at the realities of IVF that many parents are not aware of, one has to wonder if IVF is really about the children.
First IVF usually creates many more embryos than are needed. Lucky embryos get implanted into their mother's womb. Meanwhile others are discarded, donated to research or frozen and never get to finish their lives. Any "surplus" embryos that are frozen are filled with anti-freeze and then slowly cooled down to -196°C, where they are stored in containers of liquid nitrogen. Read that again. These "desperately loved and wanted" offspring are filled with anti-freeze and then frozen for later use.
And if these frozen embryos are eventually "wanted" by their parents, they are thawed out and implanted. But the majority of embryos (upwards of 70%) that are cryopreserved are damaged by the process. Only 30-35% of embryos thaw with no damage. 20-25% do not survive at all. Now read that again. Nearly one in four embryos that are frozen do not survive the process.
And it is not just the freezing and thawing process that can be a problem for an IVF embryo. The laboratory is not the best place to start one's life. Children conceived with IVF are are 9 times more likely to have the genetic disorder Beckwith-Wiedemann's Syndrome. Some recent studies are suggesting that people conceived with IVF have different patterns of gene expression that those conceived naturally and so are at greater risk for major disease like obesity and diabetes later in life. And it is estimated that 90% of IVF embryos have chromosomal abnormalities. Think about that statistic this way, IVF practitioners are creating human lives knowing that the majority will have major genetic problems and likely will not survive.
And even if everything goes well, an IVF embryo could still encounter trouble. Increasingly they are sent overseas by Fed Ex (and held by customs) to be implanted and gestated by a woman the parents have never met and cared for by a doctor a half a world away.
Or an embryo maybe implanted into the wrong uterus and then summarily aborted. Or sold over the Internet.
Or embryos can even be lost by the IVF clinic. A recent story of an IVF clinic in the UK "misplacing" a couple's embryos reminds us of the peril that IVF embryos face everyday:
A fertility clinic in Kent is under investigation after reports that staff may have lost a woman's embryos. Mrs Alison Austin-Hennessy said she and her husband Michael were informed by a consultant at the private Chaucer Hospital that their embryos had been misplaced....Increased risk of genetic problems, damage from being injected with anti-freeze and frozen, being lost or implanted into the wrong woman, sold over the Internet, discarded or donated to be destroyed in research. Is this treatment really what is "best" for our children? Is this how we treat our offspring and then call it love? With IVF on the rise, apparently so.
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