While modern reproductive technologies might seem like a blessing to some, they are certainly not free of major problems. Indeed, many people have warned about the brave new world scenarios assisted reproductive technologies (ART) might create.
I have written elsewhere about some of the many concerns about the new bio-technologies. Bio-medical ethics today has plenty to deal with, and each new development seems to result in new downsides. Many bioethicists view the artificial creation of life to be a Frankenstein monster, open to all sorts of misuse and abuse.
The most recent example of this has to do with in vitro fertilisation (IVF). This is just one of a number of new means whereby we can create life. But just as we are eager to create life, we seem equally eager to destroy life. Both the creation and destruction of human life has taken place in one go according to recent British reports.
As reported in several recent articles in the Sunday Times, there have been around 80 babies a year created by means of IVF who then are being killed in abortions. This is quite incredible. IVF is an expensive and invasive procedure which desperate women undertake to deal with infertility.
Because of their great desire to have children, they will resort to these onerous and difficult procedures in order to have children. Yet amazingly some 80 of these IVF babies are aborted each year. This is how one of the articles begins:
“When Jilly, a successful recruitment consultant, was pressed by her husband to start a family, she gritted her teeth and agreed. In her thirties, she was keen to press ahead with her career but started attending an IVF clinic at the behest of her spouse, 10 years her senior. Last year, after two rounds of fertility treatment, Jilly became pregnant. But the prospect of motherhood filled her with dread and she decided to have an abortion without telling her husband.
“‘I know it sounds terrible, but I didn’t think the pregnancy would happen and, when it did, I knew I didn’t want it,’ she said. ‘It would have destroyed our relationship. I just let him think the IVF hadn’t worked.’ Jilly, who does not want to be identified, is one of a growing number of young women who have chosen to abort foetuses for ‘social’ reasons after fertility treatment.”
The article provides these details: “Figures obtained under freedom of information rules show that an average of 80 abortions are carried out each year after IVF, which can cost about £5,000. Up to half of these involve women aged 18-34. The statistics, compiled by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), also indicate that some of the pregnancies are a result of conceptions funded by the National Health Service.”
While I have elsewhere documented the many dangers and risks associated with IVF, it is simply mind-boggling to realise that some women will go through the ordeal of IVF only to turn around and destroy the newly created life. This is the height of both selfishness and the commodification of life.
We buy a new microwave, decide we don’t like it, and chuck it out on the street with the other rubbish. We buy a new sports car, but soon grow tired of it, and trade it in for a newer model. We buy a new spring outfit, quickly grow dissatisfied with it, and throw it out.
We expect that in a materialistic, consumerist culture. But we should not be doing that with human life. Babies are not mere consumer goods that can be ordered at whim, and disposed of at whim. They are members of the human race that deserve protection and respect. They are not just another commodity to be disposed of when we grow tired of them.
And women who kill their own IVF babies certainly cannot complain about unwanted pregnancies. As Professor Bill Ledger of the HFEA pointed out, “These women can’t be surprised to be pregnant; you can’t have an IVF pregnancy by accident”.
Says the Times, “Ann Furedi, head of BPAS, formerly the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, believes every abortion doctor sees at least one patient a year requesting a termination after IVF treatment. ‘For infertile people, overcoming the problem becomes a goal in itself,’ she said. ‘Sometimes it is only when women get pregnant that they can allow themselves to ask the question about whether it is really what they want’.”
Sorry, but the time to decide whether you want a child or not is before you begin IVF services, not after it has been successfully carried out. This is simply madness compounded in an age of making life, faking life, and taking life.
Fortunately other social commentators see the unmitigated evil in all this. One such concerned thinker is Albert Mohler. Writing in a recent blog he noted some crucial lessons to be learned from all this:
“What does this new scandal say about the human condition? In the first place, it tells us that we are turning ourselves into unabashed idolaters of the self. We are witnessing the elevation of personal autonomy, personal happiness, and personal fulfillment to levels that can only be described as idolatry. These women are seeking abortions just because they have decided they really do not want to be pregnant after all. Their concern is the solitary self above all.
“Second, this scandal reminds us that the real issue here is the killing of innocent human life, and not the waste of expensive fertility treatments. The response to this report in some quarters is primarily about money, and not about the sanctity of human life. This fact alone should serve as a warning to us all.
“Third, we must remember in light of this scandal that human dignity does not rest in any sense upon the circumstances of conception, but on the fact that every human being ever conceived is made in God’s image and is a life that is sacred and to be honored, protected, welcomed, and cherished. There are all too many women who conceive by natural means, only to make the decision to abort on the same basis as those described in this report. The scandal of the abortions sought after IVF treatments throws a dramatic light on the scandal of abortion itself. This new scandal just serves to make the murderous reality of abortion even more plain to see.”
Quite right. The advances we are making with all our scientific and medical knowledge is far outstripping any moral and ethical progress. The new medical technologies may open up all sort of dazzling possibilities, but without an informed moral framework with which to judge and assess them, they simply lead to more dehumanisation and depersonalisation.
As Mohler concludes, “One might think that the most welcome place in the world for an unborn child would be the womb of a mother who would be so intent on getting pregnant that she would seek and undergo IVF fertility treatment. It turns out that in a significant number of cases, that assumption is proved wrong. How do we take the measure of that tragedy?”