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.
Wednesday, August 31. 2011
That is the name of a conference on IVF to take place in London in November. Reading through the line up of speakers is horrifying. Consider some of the questions being asked and discussed. On the embryo's "out of body experience" which means its life in a dish, conference attenders can ponder the following:
Lab desiccator used by IVF pioneer Robert Edwards to culture embryos. (Bourne Hall Clinic archives)
After lunch attendees will learn about the long term affects of being conceived in a dish instead of a womb. The "Growing Concern?" segment will address the epigenetic changes of the children of IVF:
Congenital disease including marked learning difficulties? Where is the outrage that these questions are being asked AFTER millions of embryos have been created and not BEFORE. It reminds me of a quote from 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. Sounds really ethical, doesn't it?It is not just the questions about the long term health of IVF children that are disturbing. There is a recent story of an IVF clinic that "lost" a couple's embryos and likely implanted them into the wrong woman. Now the couple wants to know what happened to their embryos which may mean genetically testing all of the children born through that IVF clinic. Add in that the majority of embryos are damaged in the freezing process and a quarter do not survive at all, I think it is very obvious that "The Best Possible Start in Life" occurs in the womb and not in an IVF lab.
Monday, August 15. 2011
The Catholic Church's stance on reproductive technologies is wildly unpopular. I think it is for two reasons. The first is that the U.S. Supreme Court has made up a constitutional right that is not actually in the U.S. Constitution, the "reproductive right." It is the idea that not only do we have the ultimate right to destroy our offspring in the womb if we don't want them, but we also can create genetic offspring anyway we see fit. Even if it means putting those offspring at greater risk of birth defects, being implanted in the wrong uterus, being destroyed by embryonic stem cell researchers or dying in the deep freeze. The idea of "reproductive rights" has spread all over the world.
The second is that the members of our Church have not done a great job explaining why creating life outside the body, outside the martial union, is so unethical. The Church is not against infertile couples having babies, it is simply acknowledging the fact that the best, safest and most loving place to begin our lives is in our mother's womb. The minute life is created outside the body it becomes an object, a product of technical intervention and in many places the property of the parents. The Church's focus is on the resulting child and their well-being and not on the desires of the parents. William E. May said it beautifully:
A recent story about "selective reduction" illustrates the wisdom of the Church's teaching on technologies like IVF. Many people do not realize that abortion and IVF go hand in hand. To boost success rates, IVF practitioners implant more embryos than the couple wants babies in the hopes that at least one will take. When more embryos than are desired implant, doctors "reduce" the pregnancy down to the desired number of fetuses. "Reduce" is a euphemism for killing the unlucky fetuses with a shot of potassium chloride. It used to be that doctors would only "reduce" triplets or above, but now have taken to "reducing" twins down to a single fetus. One such story of reduction was recently in the New York Times. Jenny discusses why she is killing one of her IVF twins:
Jenny has articulated Church teaching on procreation and she doesn't even know it. There is a natural order to things and when that is bypassed and life is created in an artificial manner, it is easy to rationalize the killing of an innocent life down to a simple matter of "control." Just like William E. May (and the Church) said it would.
Hat Tip: Jivin J
Monday, January 3. 2011
I think that is the problem with our society's view of IVF, that somehow to be a real parent you have to carry a genetically related child. I have called this genetic vanity and it is a problem.
Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars, creating life in dish to be barcoded and RFID tagged and then left in the deep freeze, maybe infertile couples should instead be asking themselves if what they really want is a child or a pregnancy. Is their need to be a parent or to carry a genetically related child?
Tuesday, November 23. 2010
What? How can that be? Abortion is the safety net for IVF? It is according to one fertility doctor who admits that IVF doctors will implant more embryos than is recommended at the patient's request. And when too many implant, then the back-up plan is "fetal reduction." Fetal reduction is code for abortion where one or more of the multiples is aborted to make the pregnancy safer for mom and remaining siblings. From the LA Times, Dr. Steinberg admits:
IVF has become human manufacturing to specifications. Make as many embryos as possible, implant more than one woman could safely carry in one pregnancy and when things work too well, just get rid of the extras.
The total disregard for human life, both of the mother and the children, is staggering.
This is exactly the reason countries like Italy and Germany have laws that prohibit fertilizing more than three eggs at a time and require that any resulting embryos be implanted. Belgium only allows at single embryo be implanted in women under 36. And the UK and Canada, women under 40 are limited to 2 embryos.
Interestingly enough, Sweden has probably the most strict regulations on IVF. Single women are not allowed to get IVF in Sweden. A couple has to be married or a in stable relationship for over 2 years. Using donor eggs is prohibited and so is surrogacy.
It is time the United States caught a clue and realize that regulating the fertility industry is not about infringing on "reproductive rights." It is about safety. We continue to allow doctors to use vulnerable women and the children that result from IVF as guinea pigs. Meanwhile stock piles of forgotten and abandoned embryos continue to mount, left in the deep freeze or given to researchers to destroy for parts.
Friday, November 19. 2010
I am wondering when the United States is going to realize that the fertility industry needs some oversight. These are the lives of women and children at stake and the medical profession and the rest of society just turn a blind eye. It is outrageous that Nadya was even implanted with 12 embryos even if it was not part of an experiment to which she had not properly consented.
Other "enlightened" countries that we always turn to for ideas on "better health care" have very strict rules for IVF. In Canada and in the UK, only 2 embryos are allowed to be implanted at a time. Three if the woman is over 40. In Germany and Italy, only 3 eggs can be fertilized at a time and then any resulting embryos have to be implanted.
For Catholics, IVF is always immoral. But I would be ecstatic for at least some regulation of this out of control industry that use women and children as guinea pigs.
Saturday, July 10. 2010
A few years ago I went shopping for a brand new house. Every model home I visited, regardless of the builder, had a gigantic master suite with a spa-like enormous bathroom where every morning you could cartwheel your way to the shower and back flip to the toilet. Down the hall, placed almost like an afterthought, were 3 or 4 tiny little bedrooms whose total square feet might add up to the space provided in the palatial master suite.
After the 5th house or so, I realized this was an indicator that society's values had shifted. Builders were building what the buyer wanted, which was clearly parental desire and comfort at the child's expense. I also knew it wasn't a good sign.
These days it is all about what parents want, not about what is best for the children. There is nowhere where this attitude is more apparent than in the assisted reproduction industry. We all heard of the Octomom, but it goes so much deeper than that. In vitro fertilization, better known as IVF, is not just about infertility anymore, it is about human manufacturing to specifications.
Recently, two stories have been in the news that illustrate my point. Gillian and Paul St. Lawrence, both fertile and in their 30's, have used IVF to create 5 embryos. They have frozen their 5 offspring until it is more convenient for them to raise children. From the Washington Post:
Five human lives have been created and put in "storage" until they are ready to "use" as the St. Lawrence's "project" to provide themselves "insurance." (Her words not mine.) There was a time we used "gift" and "blessing" when referring to children but in this Brave New World, "project" and "insurance" are more appropriate. IVF is now being used for human manufacturing to specifications. In this case, ordered with delayed delivery.
What is particularly chilling (no pun intended) is Gillian's description of how she weighed the pros and cons of freezing her offspring as if she was deciding whether the lasagna she made the night before would freeze well enough to still taste good in a few months.
The second story is about an Australian couple who are complaining that they have to travel all the way to Thailand to use IVF to have a daughter. They have 3 healthy boys already (I assume made the old fashioned way) and want to use IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to insure they have a girl. The problem is Australia does not allow IVF and PGD for sex selection. From the Herald Sun:
At least she is honest. This is not about loving and caring for a girl, it is about her and her husband "wanting a daughter." There is a difference. If loving and caring for a girl was the goal, then adoption would certainly fit the bill. But when it is about insuring you get a genetically related female, then human manufacturing to specifications is the answer.
This woman insists it is not about her sons, but the reality of IVF and PGD is that she will create embryonic sons that she will in fact "trade" to get the embryonic daughter. She will create male offspring in the process, the clinic will just throw them out in favor of the females.
The Catholic Church had always been against IVF, even in cases of infertility. Once you create life outside the body, it naturally turns into the manufacturing of humans. We are meant to be begotten not made. And certainly not made to specifications. I think these two cases illustrate the wisdom of the Church.
In the end, I never bought a new house. I stayed in my solidly-built 1940s bungalow where the bedrooms are nearly all the same size and there is no master bath. Now that I think about it, they didn't have IVF in the 1940s...
Monday, April 26. 2010
I have reported before that IVF embryos may be at risk for major disease later in life. Because IVF embryos are conceived in a laboratory, outside their natural environment, epigenetic changes can occur. Epigenetics is the study of how and why genes are turned on or off. Conception in a dish affects the genes that are turned on or off in an embryo. Studies have shown that IVF babies are as 3 to 9 times more likely to suffer from Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome, a disorder which can be caused by epigenetic changes. This UK Times Online article explains how IVF babies may be at risk for other diseases:
Evidence shows that IVF causes epigenetic changes. Most people assume that these changes are not inherited. Watching Ghost in Your Genes, a NOVA special on epigenetics, I realized that these epigenetic changes caused by IVF maybe inherited by subsequent generations.
Of course, we will not know for sure until IVF children age and have their own children, but evidence suggests that epigenetic changes are not wiped out in offspring but are inherited from one generation to the next. Mouse studies have shown that epigenetic changes in mice are inherited by the following generation. In the following video, Wolf Reik describes epigenetic changes in IVF embryos and his discovery that the epigenetic changes of his mice were inherited:
Further on in Ghost in Your Genes, scientists discuss how famine in grandparents affected the life span of grandchildren in a remote area of northern Sweden and how a single exposure of a pregnant rat to a toxin caused epigenetic changes that were seen 4 generations later.
The upshot? Conceiving your children in a dish may not just affect them, but your grandchildren and possibly your great-grandchildren as well.
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