When couples have difficulty conceiving a baby they sometimes turn to IVF to assist them. Although they might have the best of intentions in an attempt to bring new life into the world, little do they anticipate the ethical slippery slope they are entering. IVF requires eggs to be removed from the woman’s body and fertilized in the lab with her husband’s sperm. Since it is a surgical procedure, and it can be an expensive one, multiple eggs are removed and fertilized. Each fertilized egg is a life that has already begun. Then the woman and the doctor come to a decision as to how many fertilized eggs to implant. Several fertilized eggs are usually implanted which can result in multiple births. However, if too many eggs result in pregnancy, the woman will be asked if she wants to have a fetal reduction, meaning that some of the babies are killed in order to give the remaining babies a better chance of surviving. But what happens to the fertilized eggs that were not implanted?
These are alive and once implanted will very likely grow into a baby. If the couples are planning on having more children, they will opt to have the eggs frozen for future use. If the couples do not want more children the options are for the embryos to be destroyed, donated for use by another infertile couple or donated for experimentation by science. To destroy them is to kill a human life, however miniscule. To donate them for use by another couple is to allow your child to be raised by other people who you will usually not know and you might not choose to have as parents to your children.
The embryos that are implanted will be the brother or sister of your child who they might never know, or might discover if they take advantage of the DNA tests that are allowing people to find relatives. What words would you use to explain that situation to your child? Other embryos are donated to science and the experimentation and use of them can be ethical or not. Frequently the couples elect to have the embryos frozen for future use but not all embryos are eventually implanted. Many embryos languish frozen in fertility clinics until the couple stops paying the storage charges. The clinics are overwhelmed by unwanted embryos and, depending upon the clinic, these live embryos are eventually destroyed.
These ethical dilemmas are frequently not considered when considering IVF but these are the difficult decisions that couples are confronted with afterward. A better option is to consult with the Gianna Center of Long Island for Women’s Health & Fertility. (https://www.chsli.org/gianna-center). The Center, part of Catholic Health Services, provides an ethical approach to infertility that honors the dignity and sanctity of human life. They can be reached on LI at 661 Deer Park Ave, Babylon, NY 11702 · (631) 376-3232 and have offices in Manhattan and other locations as well.
Our Respect Life Meetings will be every Second Tuesday at 7:30pm in the Rectory. All are welcome to attend! Next meeting is February 11. For more information please call the Rectory for assistance at (631)757-7435, Deacon Jim Byrne at (631)757-3389 or visit: www.respectlife.drvc.org.
Under the Clergy pull-down tab at: www.respectlife.drvc.org/respect-life-clergy/
The USCCB Respect-Life web site is www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/index.cfm