Home > Sanctity of Life > How Many Lutherans Think In-Vitro Fertilization is Ethical?

How Many Lutherans Think In-Vitro Fertilization is Ethical?

October 5th, 2010
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I wonder how well we have done teaching people that using in-vitro fertilization to become pregnant is wrong because of the fact that the process necessarily results in “extra fertilized eggs” [read: human beings!], which ultimately are usually either frozen or destroyed. But, even if the process would not involve this result, it would still be wrong because it separates pregnancy from the act of the one man, one woman, one-flesh union. This story from ENI is interesting to read in light of this:

Catholic condemnation of Nobel Prize stirs Italian press reaction

By Luigi Sandri
Rome, 5 October (ENI)–Vatican authorities have strongly criticised the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Prize for Medicine to Briton Robert Edwards, stating that the scientist’s work on in-vitro fertilisation does not help in the defence of life.

At the same time, a number of editorials in the Italian press attacked the Roman Catholic position.

Vatican Radio carried an interview with Lucio Romano, president of the Science and Life Association, on 4 October in which he said, “The award was for a technique which reduces humanity to a product. The assignation of the Nobel Prize to Edwards ignores all ethical issues linked with IVF.”

Romano argued that Edwards did make a big impact on modern science because he extrapolated techniques used in the breeding of livestock and applied them to human beings.

“This absolutely does not represent progress for the human person,” said Romano, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Frederick II University in Naples, Italy.

The president of the Vatican-based International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, José María Simón Castellvi, said, “Although IVF has brought happiness to the many couples who have conceived through this process, it has done so at an enormous cost. That cost is the undermining of the dignity of the human person.”

Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, admitted there were some merits in Edwards’ discoveries but underlined that with artificial insemination from a person who is not a woman’s mate, motherhood and fatherhood are “trivialised”.

“There are scientists more worthy than Edwards of the Nobel Prize,” Carrasco told the Rome-based La Repubblica newspaper.

Still the same newspaper ran a comment saying that the Holy See is unable to accept “a scientist who dares investigate what for millenniums was an inscrutable mystery, the mystery of procreation”.

The editorial recalled that in October 1964, during the Second Vatican Council discussion on birth control, the Belgian Cardinal Leo Suenens, told more than 2000 bishops, “I pray, fathers: let us avoid a new process against Galileo.”

The Italian scientist Galileo Galilei, the “father” of the modern astronomy in the 17th century was condemned by the papacy because he stated that the sun, and not heaven, was the centre of the universe.

“The Vatican condemns the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Edwards,” declared the Milan-based Corriere della Sera newspaper, noting, “It was the time to award a Nobel Prize for Medicine to Edwards. It’s a prize richly deserved. Those who contest this choice are not taking into account that Edwards has made a fundamental contribution to the promotion of life.”

In giving the prize to Edwards, Sweden’s Nobel assembly in Stockholm said: “His contributions represent a milestone in the development of modern medicine.” It said, “His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity, including more than 10 percent of all couples worldwide.” [492 words]

© Ecumenical News International

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Categories: Sanctity of Life
  1. October 5th, 2010 at 14:40 | #1

    I am opposed to IVF. I think it is unnatural, immoral and selfish.

    Unnatural: There is nothing natural about IVF, especially ICSI. Massive amounts of ovulation-suppressing and egg production hormones are taken to allow the doctor to manipulate the reproductive cycle and ripen as many eggs in a given cycle as possible. At least with Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI), conception takes place in the uterus – where it naturally would, the sperm just get a little help to get there. But with IVF, conception takes place not in the warm, welcoming environment created just for it, the uterus, but in a sterile laboratory while strangers monitor the process.

    Immoral: IVF creates more babies than will be implanted, “collateral conceptions”, “extras” to have on hand just in case none of the babies conceived in the lab survive implantation once injected back into their natural environment. Nevermind that the thawed babies’ chances of surviving are even more slim than the first never-frozen batch. There are freezers full of abandoned, unborn, free-floating babies who may never be born at all, or even worse, may have their barely-developed live bodies donated to scientific research and manipulation.

    Selfish: I question the goal of a couple choosing to undergo IVF. Is it more important to GET PREGNANT no matter the cost, the effort, the humiliation, the depersonalization of conception or to be parents to a child or children? The only reasons I can come up with to go to such extents to achieve pregnancy are self-serving ones — for the experience of being pregnant, for thinking your gene pool to be so important that it must be propagated at all costs. There are thousands of already-conceived children in the world, in your country, in your state, just waiting and praying for parents to love them.

    Whether test tube babies should be used for stem-cell research is a no-brainer. No. I have great respect for organizations like Snowflakes Embryo Adoption that are trying to offer another opportunity for these frozen children to live and be loved in families.

  2. Matt Jamison
    October 5th, 2010 at 14:47 | #2

    What do you think about “snowflake adoption” where a “surplus” embryonic person is implanted into an adopting mother? Should Lutherans have a problem with this? It seems to me that it might actually help solve the problem.

    • October 5th, 2010 at 14:52 | #3

      Actually, it doesn’t solve the problem, only increases it. In fact, it creates a whole industry based on abusing human beings, and treating them as “commodities” to be sold off to other parents. I appreciate the good will behind these activities, but the better thing to do is to resist the beginnings, which is IVF.

  3. Steve
    October 5th, 2010 at 15:08 | #4

    On the radio, I will hear about doctors advertising about having a baby. The entire industry is selling the idea of having a baby is like going to get a puppy. It’s only a matter of time before we have “designer” babies. What, that is already occurring with gender selection and looking for “abnormalities” such as Downs Syndrome, which leads to abortion.

  4. Norman Teigen
    October 5th, 2010 at 15:14 | #5

    You do well in dealing with topics pertaining to Lutheran doctrine and practice. You are not as persuasive when you rely on Catholic dogma and teaching on subjects pertaining to science and medicine.

    • October 5th, 2010 at 15:31 | #6

      Norm, I continue to be deeply disappointed by your position on sanctify of life issues. I’ve heard from other members of the ELS who really wonder why you go all wobbly on issues related to abortion.

  5. October 5th, 2010 at 15:29 | #7

    While it is possible to actually purchase some of these “surplus” embryos and implant them, that’s not what embryonic adoption does. Snowflake and other similar groups make use of the entire adoption process that is used for born children, including home studies and the like. I suppose it’s a better option, but opposing the practice from the start is the way to go.

  6. Mike Baker
    October 5th, 2010 at 16:41 | #8

    As someone who struggles with fertility issues in his own marriage, I am always horrified by the tendency to twist the procreative work of husband and wife that brings another human into the world. “Making a baby” has become something like a crass manufacturing process complete with offering specific features to customers, identifying and destroying defective product that does not meet quality assurance standards, and shelving any excess supply that exceeds the demands of the market. Have we become so seduced by our current consumerist culture that this kind of draconian handling of human beings no longer troubles us or even gives us pause?

    There are those among us who are tempted to compromise basic ethics and human dignity so that they can still be taken seriously by the progressive elites in academia. I am not one of those persons.

  7. Scott Jensen
    October 5th, 2010 at 23:11 | #9

    I find it interesting that the process is being confused with how MOST are executing. Assuming that more eggs will be fertalized may be the accepted practice, but that is not an absolute. If all eggs are implanted, that is respecting the life. I am against aborting any of the children (fertzlized eggs). However, if all are implanted, I see no issue. If a man and women want a child and it is there egg and sperm used, I don’t see a problem with this. God allowed men to study and find other medical processes to heal. I don’t see much different here. Jehovah’s witnesses have condemned blood transfussions (granted… different here as not a new life, but it is a medical procedure that can extend a life). Within a marriage, this is consistent with any other medical procedure. Where is the scripture that condemns this action WITHIN the context of a marriage AND with the intent of fertiziing only what will be implanted to respect the life that is created?

    • October 6th, 2010 at 06:34 | #10

      The problem with implanting “all of them” is that there will be deaths of human beings involved since not all implant and not all are brought to full term. Plus, I think you need to think about the ramifications of separating pregnancy from the one-flesh union of man and woman.

  8. Brigitte
    October 5th, 2010 at 23:39 | #11

    1. Embryos are precious. You will know this even better, if you have spent a very long time trying to conceive one.

    2. Galileo has nothing to do with this.

    3. Children need to know their parents. It is a basic human need and right. Adoption and adoption records should also be open.

  9. Dan Dittman
    October 6th, 2010 at 15:54 | #12

    My wife and I had IVF four years ago after we were told there would be no other way for us to have children. We harvested 3 eggs, and today we have three beautiful children as a result.

    Before the procedure, I felt somewhat guilty and thought maybe this was borderline sinful. Today however, I look at my precious children, and I give praise to our Heavenly Father who allowed me to be a father through this technology. I also praise Him for allowing us to utilize this procedure in a way that did not destroy or freeze embryos.

    You may deem our actions as sinful and selfish, I really do not care. When I look at my kids, I cannot think of anything else than how blessed I am by God to be the father of these children.

    P.S. I love it when people ask if my kids are “natural.” I think this is hilarious…they seem pretty natural to me.

  10. anon
    October 10th, 2010 at 14:00 | #13

    People tend to hear little of the failed IVF procedures and the grief etc.

    Dan said, “Before the procedure, I felt somewhat guilty and thought maybe this was borderline sinful.”

    Okay, what if no children had resulted? What if they had tried IVF several times and all failed?
    Then how would he feel? Would he feel borderline sinful?

    I know folks who tried it over and over, and it failed. Were they sinful, but Dan wasn’t?

    Should we ask ourselves how we feel?

    Sin is not defined by our feelings or even the results. God uses sinners all the time. Even when we sin, God can use it for good. Dan’s having three beautiful children seems pretty good. But that is not evidence that IVF is not sin any more than failed IVF would be, or our feelings.

    My son has a friend who was adopted. His mother gave him up for adoption because she was raped. Surely the rape was a sin. However, now an otherwise childless family has a beautiful son. I think we have to assume God wanted that boy to be born. Killing him would have been a sin.

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