The Catholic Thing
Doesn’t this make anyone queasy? Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Thursday, 07 October 2010

In-vitro fertilization is a death-haunted work and has been since before its inception. Professor Robert Edwards said it took him twenty years to get the first embryo to “mature” outside the body. Twenty years of human experimentation resulting in how many deaths, just to get started?

With the number of deaths to his name you might think the Nobel committee would have given Robert Edwards the prize for peace rather than medicine. In topsy-turvy Nobel World, one makes as much sense as the other.

Proponents claim in-vitro fertilization has resulted in 4-million births to couples who might otherwise have been childless. What they leave off is the cost paid for those new lives, the staggering body count.

How many human beings had to die to get those 4-million babies? As many as 10-15 human embryos are created for every single baby that is born. Most are discarded, frozen, or killed for more experiments. This means as many as 40-million deaths were caused for those 4-million births.

Naturally, the Vatican has criticized the Nobel committee for giving an award to the man who invented this ghastly business. Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, new head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said that without this treatment, “there would be no market for human eggs” and “there would not be a large number of freezers filled with embryos in the world.” He continued: “In the best cases they are transferred into a uterus but most probably will end up abandoned or dead, which is a problem for which the new Nobel Prize winner is responsible.”

Catholic critics also point out the commoditization of human life inherent in IVF. The eugenic aspects are everywhere evident. Roberts himself says IVF has led to in-vitro diagnoses, diagnoses that have led to hundreds of thousands of pre-born deaths through abortion. And then there is the wonderful phrase of Senator Sam Brownback who says we are either persons or property. Clearly these IVF people are property, even the ones who won the doctor’s lottery and lived.

       In the beginning? TIME, July 31, 1978

The Church teaches that children can only come from sexual intercourse between married couples and that every act of intercourse must be both unitive and procreative. She requires this for the dignity of all involved, for the parents and the child who has a right to be born and to know his parents. There is a very good reason the Church teaches this. When you ignore God’s design, when you unravel that thread, enormities await you, most especially for the child. In the case of IVF, 40-million individuals cast onto the garbage heap.

As expected the Church has been attacked for her resistance to the IVF dogma and for criticizing the awarding of this prize to Edwards. The Italian newspaper La Repubblica said, “The devil is not behind Robert Edwards, as the Church seems to suspect, but a passion for science and an attempt to satisfy the desire that women have for maternity.” The leftist newspaper L’Unitá ran the ironic headline “Heretic” over a picture of Professor Edwards and two IVF babies.

It’s not like the Church does not care about fertility. Quite obviously she does. And there are many Church-approved clinics and procedures producing amazing and effective work in this area. But let’s consider this from a purely secular point of view. Allowing a doctor in the lab to choose the sperm that is to mate is at least against Darwin’s natural selection. I don’t know about you, but I would have wanted only the strongest and healthiest of my father’s sperm to reach my mother’s egg. Studies now show that IVF children are prone to abnormalities and disease at rates higher than children conceived and born the natural way.

And it is at least odd that, in death-drenched secular quarters, which constantly decry population and fertility growth and who practically worship contraception and abortion, continue to celebrate IVF. It is as if what they are really cheering is not the 4-million lives, but the 40-million embryos they got to experiment on, that and a stick in the eye to the Catholic Church.

There have been some measures seeking to regulate the wild wild west of IVF. While the IVF industry in the United States is totally unregulated, it is at least partially regulated in some European countries. There you can only create the number of embryos you intend on implanting, for instance. In Italy, IVF is only allowed for married couples. A few years ago there was a national referendum to make IVF available to everyone. It failed.

Finally there is the Yuck Factor, or there ought to be. Leon Kass has talked about the Yuck Factor and how it used to inform common sense thinking on these issues. It now seems to be lost. “My daddy masturbated into a cup.  And then a doctor, I don’t know his name, cut an egg out of my mom. He got the sperm to fertilize the egg, and then I was placed into a substance the doctor called broth, yes broth, and eventually I was placed into my mother. Ten of my brothers were frozen and were later cut up for their stem cells.”

Doesn’t all this make anyone queasy anymore?

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washinton, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.

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Comments (9)Add Comment
written by Emina Melonic, October 08, 2010
Brilliant column, Mr. Ruse. Esp. the punch at the end: Mr. Kass is really on the target when he also talked about the "wisdom of repugnance."

I think that there is something really psychologically inverted or distorted about couples (or women) who are attached to the idea of having children so much to the point of obsession. Have they ever asked themselves: maybe I am not meant to have children? Maybe it is not to be, and perhaps I am neglecting other purposes and charisms that I have been given by God to do in this world? It is sad. A child becomes a project, rather than a gift.

I also think that the details of IVF need to be out in the open for those who perhaps have never done it but blindly support it. Do you think that the "yucky" facts would change people's minds or are people really THAT abject about life's gifts, not to mention the meaning of life? I am curious what you think on this matter...
written by debby, October 08, 2010
hey Austin,
move over while i join you in losing my lunch in the porcelain-god.
makes Mary Shelly's Frankenstein look like a comic for children......
puts us all in the same apathetic pot of the masses who, gazing as the strange ash descended and holding their noses, simply asked, "what's that smell?" but didn't really want to know the answer....
i think the "days of Noah" were morally superior to our modern age of enlightened "freedoms."
so, as one who longs for Heaven and Union with the One Who called me into existence, my heart calls to Him "Why the delay in coming?" His answer is my only joy! He has made my heart to discover that not only does each one of us have a "God-shaped hole" in our heart, (St. Augustine,,) but that HE has a "me-shaped hole" in His Most Sacred Heart. and a "you-shaped hole." and a "lost sheep shaped hole....." He is waiting for the one who is lost to come into His heart. See how He willed for it to be lanced - and not just poked- open? entry is now possible.
let us all pray during this Month of the Holy Rosary for the true conversion of all souls.
and, thank you (i think) for the post.
written by Joseph Wood, October 08, 2010
Excellent column on Church teaching and the moral reasoning behind it, but we need to be a bit careful. First, Austin writes, "Clearly these IVF people are property, even the ones who won the doctor’s lottery and lived." That could lead some readers to believe the Church considers IVF children to be less than human, which is not true; the Church condemns the method by which they came into the world, not the persons themselves. Second, on what the superb Leon Kass thinks. In a 2005 Washingtonian interview: "I was an early critic [of IVF] before it was clear that this form of conception wouldn't harm the resulting children, but I've long endorsed the use of IVF for treating intramarital infertility. But I also worried 35 years ago that IVF would lead to cloning, genetic manipulation of embryos, surrogate pregnancies, and exploitation of nascent human life as a research tool--and I was not wrong in those worries."
written by Kathy, October 08, 2010
Excellent piece. IVF must stop! Freezing babies must stop! Babies can no longer be considered a commodity to acquire, they are a gift from God to love. God help us!
written by marge, October 09, 2010
and don't forget that IVF is the only way the HOMOSEXUALS can "have" babies. Yuck is right!
written by John K, October 10, 2010
There is another factor that was not mentioned. IVF is an attempt to circumvent the consequences of the sexually permissive lifestyle that can result in loss of fertility. So, the message is, do what you want today and if you get a disease that prevents pregnancy, well, we can fix that.
written by Achilles, October 10, 2010
Thanks MR. Ruse, My first thought when I heard, "Unbelievable, Dr. Frankenstein won the Nobel."
written by Susan, October 11, 2010
"but we need to be a bit careful. First, Austin writes, "Clearly these IVF people are property, even the ones who won the doctor’s lottery and lived." That could lead some readers to believe the Church considers IVF children to be less than human"

No, this refers to the truth that the parents have sold out their offspring, and something of their parental rights, to the State, by virtue of their inviting the technician to become part of the intimate act of making the baby. Made, not begotten, makes a baby partly property of the State. These individual designer babies will have huge brave-new-world style impact on larger society, making this procedure something we all have a right to object to.
written by Tammy, October 15, 2010
Wow. I am so glad I am no longer with the Catholic church. Sounds like you believe that you make decisions for God. I have two beautiful IVF grandchildren and cannot imagine life without them. Don't you think that married couples without kids sacrifice so much to be able to have a child? Do you honestly believe that every child conceived by married parents was done so through love? I know men who married just to have a child and dont love their wives. And vice versa. Someone who marries just to have a child in a loveless marriage is better than a couple who are desperate to have their own? I believe that since the process is truly a miracle, that God has a huge hand in it. God blessed my son and daughter- in -law, not the doctor.

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