At first it seems self-contradictory. The same groups that support abortion and the killing of the unborn now talk about mass infertility and the need for the universal introduction of artificial fertilization. Yet there is a blood-chilling consistency in this. We have here the next stage of the war on life, this time under the false slogan of “curing infertility.”
That in vitro fertilization is no cure for infertility is generally known. Instead of treating infertility, more and more doctors are urging married couples to turn to artificial fertilization. Most people are not even aware that there is a good, morally licit alternative to in vitro methods; namely, Naprotechnology (Natural Procreative Technology). Developed by the American physician, Thomas Hilgers, the method consists in carefully examining the physiological and biochemical changes occurring in the natural fertility cycle and then treating the disorder that renders conception impossible. Needless to say, not even naprotechnology guarantees full success in curing infertility, but unlike the much less effective in vitro methods (for they do not heal infertility at all), it does not constitute a threat to human life. By contrast, artificial fertilization is inevitably bound up with genocide, for surely this is what the mass killing of conceived human beings deserves to be called.
Consider for a moment the sheer scale of the slaughter of unborn children. The First World War cost humanity ten million lives. Alas, we failed to draw the necessary conclusions from that cataclysm, and so the Second World War robbed humanity of another fifty-five million lives. You would think something like this would make us wiser; and yet, today, in the twenty-first century, mothers and fathers freely consent to the destruction of their own children at the hands of doctors at the rate of fifty million a year. Each year the combined populations of Poland and Belarus vanish from the face of the earth. Each year a Second World War is waged in the wombs of mothers in which another fifty million innocent human beings perish in appalling agony—ripped to pieces, burned alive with the aid of caustic substances, or destroyed in some other inhuman way. And in such circumstances we are told that we face an “infertility epidemic,” that the humanity will soon die out owing to infertility, and that artificial fertilization is the only answer.
There is a ruthless cynicism in this. For there is no sound reason why we should be murdering tens of millions of unborn children only so as to be “replacing” them by artificial means. The only explanation of such a bizarre state of affairs is the lust for profit driving the abortion and in vitro industries, which, while resorting to genocide, cruelty, and deception, appeal to that most natural of human desires—the desire to bear offspring.
And yet the desire for offspring, which the Creator built into humanity (“be fruitful and multiply”), is fundamentally at odds with in vitro technology. Love consists in the desire for the good of the other and not in the gratification of one’s own ambitions and desires. In desiring offspring out of love, parents want only the good of the person whom they intend to bring into the world. But is the production of a human being by artificial means really good for him?
Alas, no one can consider as good something that involves the destruction of human beings and violates the dignity of the human person. The Church teaches that the “human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception” (Dignitas Personae: Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 4). How are human beings conceived in a test tube treated? Most importantly, they are deprived of the fundamental right, given to every human being by the Creator Himself, of being conceived as the result of the loving union of their parents (DP, 12). No form of medical “help” enabling conception is morally licit, if it replaces the normal marital act.
On the other hand, medical assistance aimed at removing obstacles that impede natural fertility is acceptable. The treatment of hormonal disorders, surgery for endometriosis, the unblocking of fallopian tubes—all these are authentic ways of restoring natural fertility. Such methods eliminate the problems underlying infertility and thus restore to the married couple the ability to generate life without direct medical intervention in the marital act itself. In God’s plan, only the loving marital act is worthy of truly responsible procreation (DP, 13).
Couples considering in vitro treatment should be aware that several years of costly and demeaning procedures may still not bring about the desired results. Only one third of women resorting to artificial fertilization end up bearing a child (DP, 14). The remaining two thirds may not even console themselves with the thought that in subjecting dozens of their offspring to a form of “Russian roulette,” they have at least succeeded in bearing one of them. The fact is that in vitro fertilization inevitably involves the premeditated destruction of surplus embryos. In the early days this fact was attributed to imperfections in the method. But now after years of development of this technology, it turns out that the reason lies elsewhere. Quite simply, the method treats human beings as a conglomeration of cells to be manipulated, selected, discarded, and destroyed. In vitro specialists see nothing morally reprehensible in this, and this is what is most disturbing about the whole procedure. They do not treat human embryos (conceived human beings) as persons, regardless of the success of the procedure. Doctors who are supposed to respect human life and fight for it at any cost become like potters, who smash their failed pots and sell the better turned-out ones. Only, unlike potters, they still make a tidy sum, even when they fail to turn out a single “quality product.”
Unfortunately, such a utilitarian approach to the medical vocation has influenced the way parents view the lives of their own children. More and more infertile couples use in vitro methods to select their offspring artificially. Is this any different from the selection procedures carried out in Nazi concentration camps? Undesirable children (such as those resulting from an “unplanned” pregnancy) are murdered out of hand. Moreover, artificially fertilized embryos (that is, human beings in the first stage of their development) must undergo a deadly selection process. A number of embryos is transferred to the mother’s organism. That only one of these will be allowed to live is known in advance. Should several of these attach themselves to the womb, the doctor will cull (kill off) the surplus individuals through the process of “reduction,” leaving only the one deemed worthy of being born (provided miscarriage does not ensue).
In no other field of medicine would anyone agree to human beings being treated in a way that involves such a high rate of mortality. The only reason that such a state of affairs is acceptable in vitro medicine is that the individual embryo is regarded not as a person deserving of full respect, but rather as a rival to an overbearing desire for offspring, which demands satisfaction (DP, 15).
Once again, it should be stressed that the desire for offspring is in itself good and right. But it may not take precedence over the dignity of any human life. The desire for a child cannot justify the “production” of offspring any more than not wanting a child can justify abandoning or destroying it once it has been conceived (DP, 16). The Church teaches that God’s love makes no distinction between human beings newly conceived or those already born, between the young or the mature and old, the healthy or sick, the able-bodied or the handicapped. God created a perfect world. It is we, through our sins, who constantly destroy this harmony and increase chaos and suffering. Out of love, God gave us His Son, that He might die for our sins and restore the dignity of the human race despite its sinfulness, brokenness, and suffering. Do we have the right to tinker with the lives of those for whom the Son of God gave His life on the cross?
Alas, forgetting who we are before God, who gave us life and salvation, man has mounted the slippery slope of imagining himself as the “lord of life and death.” In many countries the development of in vitro technology has led to the creation of “embryo banks” where frozen human embryos remain unused and consigned to destruction. Some are proposing that these be used for research, for harvesting organs, and other such macabre purposes. In the words of Servant of God John Paul II, “there is no morally acceptable way of ensuring the human future of the many thousands of frozen embryos.” For this reason, he appealed to the consciences of doctors to simply cease the production of human embryos. It is always better not to create the problem in the first place than to have to resolve it later on such a massive scale.
To repeat what was stated earlier: one might reasonably expect the groups promoting artificial fertilization methods to be fighting abortion, contraception, and the anti-life ideology. And yet the very opposite is true. In view of this, every rational-minded person should have no difficulty in concluding that the promotion of in vitro technology constitutes an element in the war on life aimed at the destruction of the family, the separation of procreation from marital love and, ultimately, the destruction of humanity. It should be clear to every believer that this is not the result of a conspiracy or action of a specific group of people, but rather of sin as such, which blinds and enslaves, which turns love into selfishness. That is why we ought to pray for those who have fallen into the trap of sin. We must vigorously resist the evil lying at the root of in vitro technology—a technology that robs mankind of its dignity.