On July 6, 2011 I read an article Wednesday entitled “Lottery for IVF” in the Sun newspaper out of the UK. The article was written for the Wednesday edition by Emma Little, their health and science Editor. Here are a few paragraphs:
“The world’s first IVF lottery is to launch in Britain this month – giving gamblers the chance to “win” a baby. The controversial game, newly granted a Gambling Commission license, will see players buy £20 tickets online. The winner will net £25,000 fertility treatments at one of the country’s top clinics. The lottery will offer the chance to become a parent every single month. The game, which looks sure to provoke a huge ethical debate, is set to launch on July 30.
“With no bars on entry, single, gay and elderly players will be free to take part in the lotto – the first of its type worldwide. But critics were already rounding on the scheme last night, with one claiming it “demeaned” the nature of human reproduction. Draws in the contest will be monthly at first but could be expanded to every two weeks. Winners will be whisked by a chauffeur to the clinic, where accommodation is also included. They will also get a mobile phone so they can maintain contact with medics at all times.
“If standard IVF fails, they will be offered donor eggs, reproductive surgery – or even a Surrogate birth. Fertility doctors at each centre will use their clinical judgment to establish the feasibility of each possible pregnancy. If a woman is fit but over 45 – the upper limit for UK NHS fertility treatment – they are likely to suggest donor eggs. Should a single woman or man win, they will be provided with donor sperm or a surrogate mum and donor embryo.”
In addition to the fact that this is one more separation of love from the reproductive miracle – turning the begetting of children into manufacturing – IVF also results in the killing of human embryonic persons. On June 20, 2008 the Vatican released an instruction called “the Dignity of the Human Person” which dealt with “Certain Bioethical Questions”. In the section concerning the deliberate destruction of embryos we read:
“The fact that the process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos was already noted in the Instruction Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life). There were some who maintained that this was due to techniques which were still somewhat imperfect. Subsequent experience has shown, however, that all techniques of in vitro fertilization proceed as if the human embryo were simply a mass of cells to be used, selected and discarded.
“It is true that approximately a third of women who have recourse to artificial procreation succeed in having a baby. It should be recognized, however, that given the proportion between the total number of embryos produced and those eventually born, the number of embryos sacrificed is extremely high. These losses are accepted by the practitioners of in vitro fertilization as the price to be paid for positive results. In reality, it is deeply disturbing that research in this area aims principally at obtaining better results in terms of the percentage of babies born to women who begin the process, but does not manifest a concrete interest in the right to life of each individual embryo.
“It is often objected that the loss of embryos is, in the majority of cases, unintentional or that it happens truly against the will of the parents and physicians. They say that it is a question of risks which are not all that different from those in natural procreation; to seek to generate new life without running any risks would in practice mean doing nothing to transmit it. It is true that not all the losses of embryos in the process of in vitro fertilization have the same relationship to the will of those involved in the procedure.
“But it is also true that in many cases the abandonment, destruction and loss of embryos are foreseen and willed. Embryos produced in vitro which have defects are directly discarded. Cases are becoming ever more prevalent in which couples who have no fertility problems are using artificial means of procreation in order to engage in genetic selection of their offspring.”
My mind returned to a story from December 10, 2010 written by Tom Blackwell which appeared in Canada’s “National Post” entitled “When is Twins Too Many?” concerning another trend in Western culture: “Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s – and their first son just over a year old – when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins.
“It came as a complete shock,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. “We’re both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. … All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen.”
“She soon discovered another option: Doctors could “reduce” the pregnancy from twins to a singleton through a little-known procedure that eliminates selected fetuses – and has become increasingly common in the past two decades amid a boom in the number of multiple pregnancies. Selective reductions are typically carried out for women pregnant with triplets or greater, where the risk of harm or death climbs sharply with each additional fetus.
“The Ontario couple is part of what some experts say is a growing demand for reducing twins to one, fueled more by socio-economic imperatives than medical need, and raising vexing new ethical questions. Experts question whether parents should choose to terminate a fetus just because of the impact the child would have on their lives, and note that even more medically necessary reductions can trigger lifelong angst and even threaten marriages. The mother said the Toronto doctor who eventually did her reduction performs several a month.”
The article interviewed a “counselor” who strives to “help” these parents. She explained she does so in “a nonjudgmental way.” She admitted that the trend “saddens and scares” her, and asked, “Is this a healthy thing? We have to ask these questions: Where does it stop? When do children become a commodity?”
The woman who killed her child said she had “no regrets, and believed the option should be openly available to all parents expecting twins.” Here are her exact words, “I’m absolutely sure I did the right thing. I had read some online forums; people were speaking of grieving, feeling a sense of loss. I didn’t feel any of that. Not that I’m a cruel, bitter person … I just didn’t feel I would be able to care for (twins) in a way that I wanted to.”
Tom Blackwell spoke with a New York City obstetrician who decided to expand his practice of selectively killing children in the womb, what he called the “procedure.” He explained, “In North America, couples can choose to have an abortion for any reason”. Blackwell ended the article noting how the killing of the children is accomplished, “Fetal reductions are most commonly conducted by inserting an ultrasound-guided needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the uterus, injecting a potassium chloride solution into the chosen fetus or fetuses, stopping their hearts.”
In 1987, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation”. Among the questions it answered was: “What Respect is due to the human embryo, taking into account his nature and identity?” The answer given by the Magisterium: “The human being must be respected – as a person – from the very first instant of his (her) existence.”
The Canadian counselor’s astute and frightening question was answered in the West long ago, “When do children become a commodity?” They became a commodity when their killing was legalized in abortion on demand. The evil is covered once again over by deadly, loaded language like “selective reduction” and “choice”. Now, we have reduced the gift of life to a national lottery. Children are becoming commodities as the dark cloud of the culture of death grows more ominous.