Prolife Forum: Fertility Treatments
Fertility Treatments QUESTION from haymags August 1, 2001 What is the Church's view on fertility pills, in-vitro fertilization and test tube babies?
ANSWER by Mr. Troy Martz on August 2, 2001 Dear Mrs. Soch:
Thank you for your question, modern fertility treatments have fueled the fire for much controversy on Stem Cell research (I'll explain below).
First, a clarification: The Church does not have views, she presents us with Teachings to help us understand the truth given to us by God. In our relativistic world, we forget that these truths are not mere opinions for us to agree or disagree with. God's truths are above our opinions -- we either obey or disobey.
I would like to seperate out fertility enhancing medications & treatements from in vitro/test tube babies. It is acceptable within the teachings of the Church to enhance the natural procreation processes of the body as long as a respect for life and for the unitive/procreative aspects are maintained. Caution should be used with these types of treatments. They often lead to multiple-birth pregnancies (most of those 6+ babies in the news are from these treatments). The problem comes when doctors pressure the couple to selectively reduce -- an anti-life euphemism for killing one or more of your children to make the pregnancy easier. Obviously, such choices are inherently evil. If you choose to undergo these treatments, you need to be prepared to deal with these pressures. Alternatives such as adoption are generally encouraged as much better in the eyes God and the Church.
Now for the non-unitive methods of procreation. Here is the clear, official, teaching of the Church:
Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum...) are gravely immoral. These techniques infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' 'right to become a father and a mother only through each other'...The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that 'entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship is contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children [Catechism of the Catholic Church 2376-2377].
In breif, the consistant teaching of the Church is that the procreative and unitive (baby-making and relationship-building) aspects of marital relations (sex) between husband and wife CANNOT be separated. In previous questions I have briefly dealt with the evil spawned by contraception -- unitive without procreative. Now let's look at the one of the results of artificial fertilization -- procreation with unity.
Much is made in the media about Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR). Supporters of this (some who claim to be Pro-Life) claim that it is ethical to fund ESCR because the embryos will be discarded anyway. What better argument could you have against in vitro fertilization: you create extra embryos (those are tiny babies) and throw away the ones you don't want! I can't imagine how future generations will condemn us for allowing (and sometimes supporting) such destruction of life.
The most important thing to remember, there is NO God-given right to bear children. Couples faced with infertility need our prayers and help, but also should be encouraged to consider adoption and community service to fullfil their parental urges.
Lastly, those children produced by these unnatural methods are innocents who have been victimized by their parents and doctors and deprived of the dignity mentioned in the Catechism above. Keep them in your prayers.
Pax Christi, Troy Martz
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