Steven Waldman

Steven Waldman


Why Aren’t Pro-Lifers On a Rampage Against the Fertility Industry?

posted by swaldman

We’ve been discussing for the past week a variety of ethical questions related to Nadya Suleman’s octuplets. Should a woman who can barely handle six, get another eight? Should the clinic have agreed? What rights did the father/sperm-donor have?
What’s been surprisingly missing from the debate is a strong pro-life voice against the entire fertility industry. For those who believe legal rights should begin at “viability” or birth this is a non-issue but for those who believe life begins at conception, the fertility industry is a massive creator and discarder of lives — 127,977 in a typical year. In England, almost half the embryos created were destroyed.
I don’t understand why the pro-life community hasn’t made the abolition of the fertility industry a top goal.
Yet during this past week I got many emails from religious conservatives about the anti-religion nature of the stimulus package and some about the “pro-porn” Justice department official, but not a one about the octuplets case.
I found one pro-life blog that criticized the situation — but largely, she argued, because it pointed up the dangers of “reproductive rights.”
I suspect that part of why pro-lifers haven’t come down harder is that they admire her decision not to reduce the number of babies through selective abortion.
I still have never heard a good explanation from the pro-life community for why they aren’t campaigning to abolish the in vitro industry.



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Gerard Nadal

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:11 am


During the Civil War, Secretary of State Seward favored a war with England to reunite the States against a common enemy. Things were not going well at this point for the North.
President Lincoln’s reply? “One war at a time.”



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bondgirl

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:05 am


I have not heard of any group activetly trying to get rid of the fertility industry. However, I know that the catholic church is against IVF precisely because it does create extra embryos which may either be discarded or used as scientific experiments. Those catholics who actually believe the stands their church has taken will not have IVF.
I cannot decide what to think about Nadya Suleman. She intentionally created this ethical dilemma for herself, which was wrong to begin with. And yet, once that situation was created, she did the “right” thing by not intentionally destroying the embryos. She is perhaps not the best example for this discussion, since she appears to be mentally/emotionally disturbed and also a liar. But, in her defense, she was partially correct in saying that the only reason she is being criticized is because she is a single mom. Who would have thought that the whole country would suddenly decide to criticize single moms?



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Nancy Bucceri

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:58 am


My first born was conceived after 6 years of physical and emotionally painful infertility treatments via a process called GIFT (gamete intra-fallopian transfer). I consider myself pro life and I don’t think my support for infertility treatment and prolife stance are inconsistent. I support better regulation of infertility treatment programs, not abolishing it altogether. Infertility treatment does not necessitate creating more embryos than can be safely transferred to the mother. It does not necessitate creating embryos at all. It does not necessitate ever putting the mother or babies at undue risk. In fact, even seventeen years ago the industry knew how to restrict the number of eggs harvested and fertilized so that a couple could maximize its chances of pregnancy without having to face the moral dilemma of what to do should there be “extra” embryos or too many fetuses. Regulation is needed. The doctor who treated Ms. Suleman should lose his license.



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Religious Institute

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:10 pm


This week our organization (pro-choice, by the way) published a statement by a group of theologians, clergy and ethicists calling for dialogue around this very issue. The Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Assisted Reproductive Technologies raises questions about the need for regulation, equal access and long-term effectiveness of these technologies. It also points out that the ethical issues affect not just the women and children involved, but society at large. It’s not a question of attacking the fertility industry, but of ensuring that life be created with care, respect and humility.



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ljtanner

posted February 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm


The reason why the pro-life movement has not come out against fertility treatments, and in vitro fertilization specifically, is because there is a tenderness towards wanting to create life instead of ending it. It is like they are turning a blind eye towards the embryos that are destroyed or “discarded” as you say.
bondgirl is correct in her statement that the Catholic Church opposes IVF because of the extra embryos that are inevitably killed, but there is a second reason that is often forgotten but also deeply important. The creation of life is to come from a human expression of love, which is ultimately sharing in God’s love and a participation in His ongoing act of creation on earth. When the creation of a life is taken outside of that physical unity, we are breaking down God’s creation/love into scientific pieces coldly combined in a lab. The unitive bond between the mother and father is lost, even if their own egg and sperm are being used.
I know that couples who have suffered infertility will say that all of their motivation for seeking such procedures or treatments is firmly based in love and the union they already share. However, to manipulate the pieces outside the action of love is creating a child that does not come from an initial, specific union. It also takes God’s hand out of the process. (It is like other fields of science so focused on breaking things down to the nano that we as a society lose sight of how everything is connected.)
Again, I think it is out of kindness or charity that the pro-life movement does not target fertility treatments creating embryos in a lab and ultimately discarding thousands (even with “responsible” or “regulated” methods). There are so many couples who cannot conceive and want to enjoy parenthood with their own child, but we must be careful to remember here that the good desired end does not justify the means.



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ljtanner

posted February 13, 2009 at 5:25 pm


The reason why the pro-life movement has not come out against fertility treatments, and in vitro fertilization specifically, is because there is a tenderness towards wanting to create life instead of ending it. It is like they are turning a blind eye towards the embryos that are destroyed or “discarded” as you say.
bondgirl is correct in her statement that the Catholic Church opposes IVF because of the extra embryos that are inevitably killed, but there is a second reason that is often forgotten but also deeply important. The creation of life is to come from a human expression of love, which is ultimately sharing in God’s love and a participation in His ongoing act of creation on earth. When the creation of a life is taken outside of that physical unity, we are breaking down God’s creation/love into scientific pieces coldly combined in a lab. The unitive bond between the mother and father is lost, even if their own egg and sperm are being used.
I know that couples who have suffered infertility will say that all of their motivation for seeking such procedures or treatments is firmly based in love and the union they already share. However, to manipulate the pieces outside the action of love is creating a child that does not come from an initial, specific union. It also takes God’s hand out of the process. (It is like other fields of science so focused on breaking things down to the nano that we as a society lose sight of how everything is connected.)
Again, I think it is out of kindness or charity that the pro-life movement does not target fertility treatments creating embryos in a lab and ultimately discarding thousands (even with “responsible” or “regulated” methods). There are so many couples who cannot conceive and want to enjoy parenthood and a child, but we must be careful to remember here that the good desired end does not justify the means.



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stevenwaldman

posted February 14, 2009 at 2:03 pm


“Religious institute,” I wonder if you could respond to nancy bucceri’s statement that, with regulation, you could have a fertility industry that doesn’t create “too many” embryos that must then be discarded. True? Or is discarding embryos inherent in the ivf process?



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Phil

posted March 26, 2009 at 1:55 am


Not every fertility treatment results in death. Pro-lifers are primarily focusing on those attacks on human life (e.g., embryonic stem cell research), rather than on the misuse of a technology that leads to “too-many-to-implant” frozen embryos. Having frozen embryos is not intentional killing, but it does allow for the opportunity; I agree that this is bad, but it is not of the same category.
Non-Catholic pro-lifers are accepting of IVF if it is done carefully (one egg fertilized & implanted at a time), because there is careful planning to avoid the death of embryos. Russell D. Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary talks about this with Leon Kass, and agrees that careful IVF is morally acceptable, but argues that the money spent on IVF may be better used toward adoption.
Catholics (including myself) absolutely oppose IVF because it always separates sex and kids; if God didn’t want you to become pregnant via sex, you shouldn’t be trying to circumvent this. Additionally, we know that irresponsible use of IVF has led to the deaths of thousands upon thousands of embryos because our culture doesn’t defend the defenseless.
In brief, IVF can lead to the intentional killing of humans, but it does not do the killing. This is why you don’t hear pro-lifers arguing Fertility Clinics, because they are not inherently evil, like abortion or ESCR.
+ Phil



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Your Name

posted April 23, 2009 at 11:37 pm


Steve,I enjoy your commentaries. This lastest is a prime example of why i think you see thru the politics of things!Pro-lifers benefit from fertility (ivf) procedures also; thats is why you dont hear a peep from them regarding IVF.I believe the solution for abortion begins and ends with the MAN!He can choose not to have sex or unprotected sex with the woman and show godly respect towards woman by not indulging all together. I believe this is realistic. GOD BLESS



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Your Name

posted June 1, 2009 at 10:15 am


I am against these treatments – why not adopt a child from India or Pakistan or Eritrea, etc. The biggest issue is now we can genetically erradicate anyone with a handicap or an undesirable trait in a petri dish. Josef Mengele would have been amazed at the technologies we have come up with…I think we also need to mention assisted suicide, which I fear because I think people will do that out of anger or family desire to be rid of a problem or to save on medical expenses.



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Karyl

posted June 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm


Oh, if only this “kindness” & “charity” were extended to the rest of )(born) humanity and their parents, gay people, women, etc., etc.



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Peggy James MD

posted June 16, 2009 at 8:14 am


Yourpointis very well taken. The fertility industry is very lucrative and well entrenched. The restrictions placed on them are virtually nil. It is outrageous that anyone would produce the number of embryos they do only to have most of them “stored”. I am pro-life and vehemently opposed to the in vitro industry. Overcoming the financial gain and the desire of women/couples to have what they want when they want it, i.e., a child will be monumentous and many in the pro life community are doing so. I commend you for this article and will continue to voice my opposition. Thank you for this venue.



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Laura

posted August 21, 2009 at 8:26 pm


Conversely, why doesn’t Planned Parenthood assist responsible women with fertility treatment? There are many women whose insurance does not cover fertility treatment. Isn’t that “family planning” just as some say abortion is?



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Surrogacy

posted January 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm


Great Post…..
I found your site on stumbleupon and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!
Thanks for sharing….



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Surrogacy in India

posted January 11, 2010 at 4:32 am


Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!



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