A Fertility Industry Without Ethics
Henry Sylvester, Cape Town – When couples unite in marriage it follows that they are open to having children in participation in God’s creation. It is thus understandable that they agonise much when one spouse is afflicted with sterility.
It is difficult for the believer to discern what to do when medical terms and reproductive technologies such as IVF, surrogacy, sperm banks, cloning and embryo splitting, which purport to offer hope in the area of fertility, are not found or explained in the Bible.
But Our Lord did not leave us alone to decide on matters of faith, morals and doctrine. He left us a teaching authority, the Church.
The Church teaches that research aimed at reducing sterility is to be encouraged “on condition that it is placed at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God”.
It says it is morally unacceptable if the identity and life of the embryo is entrusted and “determined” by the power of the doctor or biologists in a laboratory. Sperm donation and techniques that involve another person, such as surrogacy, “infringe the child’s right to be born of a mother and father bound to each other in marriage and known to him”.
Since the practices of IVF and cloning require a number of sperm and ova for cultivation and fertilisation, many of the “spare” embryos can be exploited as “biological waste material”.
Choose Your Children?
The fertility industry has become a multi-million-dollar enterprise the world over. Those who desire parenthood can now “choose” the children they want by evaluating long checklists of the various traits of the donors.
When the ethics surrounding embryo storage and selection are left in the hands of agencies and individuals who have the power to manipulate and change matter, who knows what they can create with human embryos?
When someone “donates” an egg or sperm, they give away all their rights as a parent and they give the blueprint of their complete “being” to a biologist or agency that can do whatever it wishes with the “gift”.
The Church encourages spouses who suffer from sterility to seek legitimate medical procedures that do not negate their marriage and the conjugal act of husband and wife within marriage as ordained by God.
Couples who are open to life as ordained by God should pray for openness to adoption too. St Joseph, Jesus’ dad, is an example of someone who accepted Mary and her son Jesus to become his son too through adoption.
God wills some good for everything he has made, but he does not will all the same goods and not all possible goods to creatures of the same kind.
A child is not owed to anyone, but is a gift from God. Not having a particular gift does not in any way reduce or negate God’s immense love for everyone.