Seeking solutions for infertility continues to be a noble mission.
Wishing for married couples to be able to conceive remains commendable.
That said, though, not all so-called solutions for infertility remain morally acceptable.
A very popular, and also very expensive technique is to use in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF seeks to make conception occur outside a woman’s body, in a petri dish using extracted eggs and sperm. Since conception is not possible naturally, IVF seeks a remedy by unnatural means. This remains morally problematic.
To see some other aspects of what makes IVF morally illicit, let us turn to the teachings of the late Holy Father, Pope Saint John Paul II.
I will quote the first half of section 63 of his 1995 papal encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (‘The Gospel of Life). I will add my commentary, along the way.
“This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos.”
Notice the late Polish Pontiff calls seeking solutions for infertility “legitimate.” The Church recognizes infertility as a tremendous cross for couples to bear (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2379). He is simply calling out the immorality of certain interventions.
“This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries. Although ‘one must uphold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but rather are directed to its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival,’ it must nonetheless be stated that the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person” (emphasis added).
The above describes the ethical issues with experimentation on human embryos. Often, these human embryos were created in laboratories through the practice of IVF. Those not implanted into women are often left indefinitely in storage facilities and many are later experimented upon.
This ghoulish practice remains a common means to search for cures to cancer and other human ailments. Finding cures for medical conditions certainly enjoys nobility as a worthwhile and beneficial practice. Experimenting on living human beings, in order to do so, does not. Killing off humans, no matter how small or delicate they are, could never be a licit way to bring life to others. You cannot do evil so that good can come from it.
Besides, not a single cure has ever been found from experimenting on human embryos.
The Pope goes on to state the ethical illicitness of such exploitation, calling out specifically IVF.
“This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses-sometimes specifically ‘produced’ for this purpose by in vitro fertilization—either to be used as ‘biological material’ or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.”
Again, the Church does not oppose treatment for ailments. She only calls for such treatments to not bring the murder of some for the benefit of others. She doesn’t want to see human beings treated as commodities or objects. Rather, each person within the human race deserves respect and honor, for each was made in the image of God.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The bottom line is that using IVF or other artificial means as solutions for infertility can never be morally permissible.
Among many other reasons, IVF also facilitates a dangerous practice of treating human beings as commodities. Any embryos not implanted into women become vulnerable to experimentation and to being harvested and killed.
IVF does not recognize “the life and integrity” of every human embryo, even those implanted in the womb. The rate of successfully births remains low and so those implanted are susceptible to dying through a miscarriage.
As well, those human embryos implanted in a womb are not afforded their full human dignity. Rather than being the product of a loving conjugal act between their mother and their father, they are instead brought to life by third party intervention.
If everyone recognized the ethical deplorability of IVF, the practice would cease to continue.
What do you make of so-called solutions to infertility that treat human beings are commodities?
Please leave your thoughts below!