Skip to comments.Catholic Caucus: Cowboys, infertility and deeper moral questions
Posted on 05/16/2018 5:11:15 PM PDT by Coleus
Most people still remember the story of Nadya Suleman, dubbed Octomom, a single woman who used in vitro fertilization to become pregnant with eight babies simultaneously. Suleman had asked her fertility specialist, Dr. Michael Kamrava, to implant at least a dozen embryos into her uterus, leading to the birth of the famous octuplets in 2009. Dr. Kamravas medical license was later revoked by the California Medical Board. In commenting on the case, Judith Alvarado, Deputy Attorney General in California, concluded that Dr. Kamrava had acted like a cowboy in ignoring fertility industry guidelines.
When it comes to the wild west of infertility a field of medicine with little oversight and unbridled profit margins there are a lot of cowboys out there.
Recently there was the case of Kelli Rowlette who, after having her own DNA analyzed in 2017 through a genealogy website, shockingly discovered that her biological father was actually a fertility specialist who had once treated her mother. Without her mothers knowledge or consent, the specialist had used his own sperm to impregnate her, while falsely claiming he was using a mixture of sperm from her husband (who had low sperm count) and a donor who was supposed to have been an anonymous university student with features similar to her husband.
Another infamous case involved Bertold Wiesner who, back in the 1940s, established a fertility clinic in London to help women struggling to conceive. His clinic supposedly relied on a small number of highly intelligent men to serve as sperm donors for artificial insemination, with more than 1500 babies being born. More than seventy years later, based on DNA testing of people who had been conceived at the clinic, it turned out that as many as 600 of the babies born may have relied on sperm from Mr. Wiesner himself.
There was also the troubling story of Dr. Cecil Jacobson of Fairfax County, Virginia. He was accused of a "purposeful pattern of deceit" during the 1980s when he fathered up to 75 children using his own sperm for artificial insemination with his female patients. He was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and had his medical license revoked.
Another notorious episode relied on DNA testing and other evidence gathered by police in Brazil. They discovered that many of the 8,000 babies born after IVF treatments at the clinic of Dr. Roger Abdelmassih in Sao Paulo were not genetically related to the couples who were raising them. Authorities believe that Abdelmassih misled many of his clients during the 1990s and early 2000s and impregnated them with embryos formed from other peoples eggs and sperm, in a bid to improve his clinics statistics for successful implantations and births.
Yet another nefarious incident involved Doctors Ricardo Asch, Jose Bulmaceda and Sergio Stone, three fertility specialists and faculty members at the University of California at Irvine who ran a campus fertility clinic during the 1990s. They were accused of fertilizing eggs they had harvested from women and implanting the resulting embryos into unrelated women, as well as selling some of the embryos to scientists and researchers. Dozens of women and couples filed lawsuits against the doctors and the university.
One of the reasons these acts of deception by fertility specialists are so offensive to us is that we realize how the procreation of our own children is meant to involve a strict exclusivity between husband and wife. Whenever we violate that exclusivity by hiring outsiders to produce our offspring in clinics, or engage strangers to provide their sex cells for these procedures, unthinkable outcomes become possible.
The plethora of these cases also reminds us how many of the cavalier approaches to human procreation being promoted by the fertility industry are unethical at their core. We are witnessing an unprecedented burgeoning of laboratory techniques for manufacturing human life, many of which are deeply antagonistic to human dignity and contrary to the parental obligations assumed by spouses when they marry.
The natural exclusivity intended in parenthood is meant to afford protection, security about our origins, and the safety of the home hearth. In the headlong rush to achieve a pregnancy at any price, many couples, regrettably, are allowing hawkish businessmen to manipulate their sex cells, create their children in glassware, store them in frozen orphanages, and even discard them like medical waste.
The tragic fallout of these decisions should reignite our natural moral sensibilities, and point us back in the direction of the Creators plan for human procreation. Our children are truly safeguarded in the dignity of their origins when they are brought into the world exclusively within the marital embrace of husband and wife. Turning to the lawlessness of modern day fertility cowboys, meanwhile, is a quick study for violation and heartache.
Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See www.ncbcenter.org
Like so many things this assumption that the pope is the ultimate authority on God’s will is fraught with peril. Priests and Popes are men and fallible. Has the inquisition taught us nothing?
First of all, do not spout silliness about papal infallibility.
Second, do we need the Pope or any one person to tell us the dangers in tampering with human fertility? Is no observation and reason itself adequate for us to see that any act that tampers with generation of humans is unnatural?
How is your comment relevant here?
Wouldn't it make more sense to comment on the cases discussed in the article, and their moral evaluation?
That makes even less sense than suggesting that the rejection of IVF is based on church teaching. What can be reasoned one way can be reasoned another way. The rigidity of outlook in the article engendered a visceral response in me.
The article made many assumptions in the manner of logical syllogisms and as though all the conclusions the article lays forth are absolute and indisputable.
Because it involves masturbation IVF is wrong.
Surely you jest.
Even if no embryos are created that are not implanted IVF is wrong because fertilization is outside the body?
I believe that it is what is in someone’s heart not the mechanics of the reproductive act. If a child is conceived of in love and in full knowledge of the awesomeness of creation, in the sight of God what does it matter if science helps?
You confuse the form with the substance and in so doing lose the meaning of God’s love and his plan.
I think it goes without saying that there are awesome opportunities for evil and for destroying the sanctity of marriage and the family with reproductive techniques such as are discussed here. But the opportunity to chose evil will always be with us.
There are also great opportunities for good. Trying to turn back the clock and deny the possibilities will not work and will certainly only dissuade the very people who would be the most likely to raise a child to know God’s love and live a godly life. The two lesbians who want to pretend to be a family will not be dissuaded.
... and therefore you reject a reasoned argument without addressing it. You would reject an unreasoned argument as well. Would it be fair to say you are not open to communication that disagrees with your point-of-view at all?
The rigidity of outlook in the article engendered a visceral response in me.
It certainly didn't engender a logical one. What about the rigidity of your own outlook, which apparently brooks no disagreement?
Because it involves masturbation IVF is wrong. Surely you jest.
Authentic Christian moral teaching rejects all sexual activity outside of marital intercourse, open to conception, between husband and wife. Look it up. NO mainstream, orthodox Christian group taught otherwise prior to 1930.
I think I differentiate between a relationship with God & Jesus and the teachings of the Church. I am sorry we disagree so vehemently. I believe there is nothing illogical about my position.
I actually did address the arguments not in detail but in rebuttal. Perhaps the thread was only meant for orthodoxy and I strayed where I was not meant to go.
In debating and reasoning it is acceptable to reject a premise and not wander down the paths where the premise is leading you. That is my position. I reject the notion that assisted procreation is ungodly or breaks down the bonds of marriage & family. Reasoning that comes to that conclusion is in my opinion flawed. I reject it at the onset and do not need to rebut point by point, from an initial flawed premise there can be no truth.
God is above all in our hearts and in our commitment to love and cherish one mate and all the children that God blesses us with.
I am reminded of the story of the faithful man who dies waiting for rescue on a rooftop in a flood and berates God saying “I cried out to you and you didn’t come”. God’s answer is “I sent 3 boats and you rejected them all”. I believe God who loves us made us capable of scientific endeavors and sent reproductive scientific advances as a boat to those who would otherwise be left without rescue.
Believing in that way I am not amenable to people trying to shame those in need because they have allowed science to help them. Science can be used for ignoble and frankly evil ends and I would decry those incidences and make them illegal if I could but there is the possibility of evil in every facet of life but also the possibility of great good.
As an aside we did not need reproductive assistance with our 4 children. I have, however, known 2 couples who grew old, childless because one partner rejected reproductive assistance of any kind. The women in these marriages felt bereft; their lives were blighted with a central pervading sadness. It was wrenching to know them.
Again with the church teaching...
For me the Bible, yes, church teaching is men’s words and interpretations. If you enjoy having others decide for you fine but in the end at judgement day you and you alone are responsible for your actions & decisions. That you followed church teachings will not save you if in your heart you did not act in accordance with Christ’s teachings and if the mortal teachings you relied on were flawed.
Pardon me as a heretic if you must. I believe in personal responsibility to follow Christ and give over my conscience to no man alive or dead.
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