A Throw Away Culture in Reproductive Medicine

artificial insemination of human female egg

The “Brave New World” of genetic manipulation in reproductive medicine has arrived, and its arrival embraces the utilitarian calculation that the death of the innocent is a legitimate means to secure the health of another.

Mitochondrial diseases, such as Leigh’s Syndrome and Alpers Disease are passed down from mothers to their children because offspring inherit their mitochondria (the energy producers of cells) exclusively from their mothers. Often caused by mutations in the mitochondrial DNA, these diseases can be devastating. Modern medicine has yet to offer a cure.

Researchers in the UK and USA have developed a number of procedures to prevent the inheritance of disease-causing mitochondria. The most favored method appears to be “Pro-nuclear Transfer” (PNT). PNT involves the creation of two one-celled human beings (zygotes) in a petri dish. One is “donated” and the other is the offspring of the parents who have passed on a mitochondrial disease. To bypass this disease, researchers remove and discard the nucleus of the “donor zygote” and replace it with the nucleus that has been removed from the infected zygote.

The end result of PNT is a human being free of his mother’s mitochondrial disease, but who now has three genetic parents: the DNA contained in the nucleus has been provided by two adults, and the DNA from the mitochondria are from the second woman who donated the zygote. More importantly, the result is that where there were once two unique human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, we now have only one. This procedure demands the death of at least one human being so that another might have health. Some have suggested that two human beings are killed and the disease-free zygote is a new human being created from parts.

Mitochondrialdisease-creditAusSMCUnfortunately, the United Kingdom recently gave approval to researchers to move toward clinical use of these techniques. In the United States the Food and Drug Administration is devoting a day and a half on October 22 and 23 to “discuss oocyte modification in assisted reproduction for the prevention of transmission of mitochondrial disease or treatment of infertility.” (Emphasis added.)

These are disappointing developments as there are many ethical concerns with this procedure. And still unknown are the potentially serious health risks for the individual or his progeny.

But what is most disconcerting is the disregard for the dignity and rights of the “donor zygote” who is not treated as a person but as an object, a means, to secure the well-being of another. This is a tragedy as Blessed John Paul II emphasized time and again: “[t]he dignity of the person is the most precious possession of an individual,” it is a permanent endowment that must be cherished.

PNT is a clear violation of the personal dignity of man, a dignity that is rooted in his being a member of the human species—a unique and unrepeatable creation made in God’s image and likeness. Having been made in God’s image and likeness, the direct taking of the life of an innocent human being is also an offense to God. In Christifidelis laici John Paul stressed, “For this reason every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offense against the Creator of the individual.” The human person is a great good, and the human community has the duty to uphold and cherish the dignity of God and his highest creation. John Paul’s words remain apropos:

In virtue of a personal dignity, the human being is always a value as an individual, and as such demands being considered and treated as a person and never, on the contrary, considered and treated as an object to be used or as a means or as a thing.

This procedure further represents a blatant offense against the fundamental equality of all persons before God and with one another. It is unjust discrimination which is “totally unacceptable” especially as it serves to “divide and degrade the human family.” It is an “intolerable injustice” because of the “dishonor inflicted on the dignity of the person”—both the child treated as a means to an end and the doctors and parents who perpetrate the unjust attack are demeaned by PNT.

The Church affirms that patients have a right to adequate health care. Researchers and physicians should make every effort to eradicate diseases such as inheritable mitochondrial diseases and secure the wellbeing of all their patients. But this “right to health” cannot come at the cost of “the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights,” the right to life. The “right to health”—admittedly a difficult right to define—is “false and illusory” when the duty to preserve life is so directly offended.

In a recent speech Pope Francis lamented a “throw away culture” that is increasingly operative in medicine and science. One can hardly conceive of a more clear manifestation of this throw away culture than PNTs deliberate killing and discarding of one human being to immediately secure the health of another.

Arland K. Nichols

By

Arland K. Nichols is the founding President of the John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family.

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  • Elat

    this is so isanely wrong and downright evil that I don’t have words. I gasp for words… the closest I come to is demonic.

    • James1

      This is pretty close: http://essure.com

      • Elat

        no, I’m sorry, I have to disagree. To manipulate embryos, who are stripped of all human rights, and mix it together with a third party even takes reproductive science to a whole other level that is truly diabolical.

        • James1

          ???

          In no way was I implying such contraception is in any way worse than manipulating embryos. Rather my intent was merely to point out the other end of the vanity/self-serving mentality as regards reproduction.

          Even a rudimentary reading of what I wrote cannot make such an implication.

  • Bob

    We are now Dr. Frankenstein. Just in time for Halloween.

  • publiusnj

    Some clarification may be necessary: why would a “donor” couple compromise the birthright of their child? Is it for love of the “patient couple” or is it for money? If the latter, they aren’t “donors;” they are sellers. So, it is now okay to sell one’s child’s body parts as well as to kill it?
    And if the “donor fertilized egg” is in fact fertilized, then are we not talking about four parents, and not 3?

    • Arland Nichols

      I hope I might adequately answer your questions: 1. The “donor zygote” could be the “product” of the husband’s sperm and another woman’s egg. It could be the product of any strangers who have donated their gametes. Eventually the gametes may come from reprogrammed somatic cells. The possibilities are many.
      2. You are correct – the “donor” in the field of reproductive medicine is usually more accurately described as a “vendor”
      3. Finally, the consensus of science is that the mitochondria come exclusively from the egg. Children do not inherit their mitochondria (or mitochondrial DNA) from their fathers, but only their mothers. Inherited mitochondrial diseases are passed down from mothers, not fathers. Great questions – I hope my answers help. God bless.

      • publiusnj

        If the “donor” is instead a vendor most of the time, I think there is value in stating that as the fact. Should there be some “altruistic mother” who “cares” for the would be buyer “parents” enough to deprive her own child of life FOR NOTHING, let her identify herself.

        • Arland Nichols

          You may notice that I put “donated” in quotes as well as “donor zygote”.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          That is why French law has attacked the commercialisation of the reproductive process. Starting with Art 1128, “only things in trade can be the subject of an agreement,” the Civil Code also provides that there can be no ownership of human gametes or embryos; this is excluded by Art 16-1 of the Code Civil, “The human body, its elements and its products may not form the subject of a patrimonial right.” Nor can they be bought or sold, for Art 16-5 reinforces the general prohibition of Art 1128, by providing that “Agreements that have the effect of bestowing a patrimonial value to the human body, its elements or products are void.” Finally, out of an abundance of caution, Art 16-7 provides that “All agreements relating to procreation or gestation on account of a third party are void.”

          I find it astonishing that a country so attached t the principle of laïcité should have such laws, whilst there has been no pressure from Christians to introduce them in the US.

      • publiusnj

        One other thing: once the nucleus is removed from the “donor fertilized egg” it is perhaps true that there is no remaining genetic contribution from the “donor dad” (who may not even be aware of his female sexual partner’s sales contract with the “parent couple.” Donor dad though remains the “sire” of the child whacked up to be sold to the “parent couple” as a “nucleus free fertilized egg with healthy mitochondria.” So, in that sense would there not be four parents of the “designer child” created from the later assembled body parts? Or should we extend the jurisprudence that denies the donor dad any say when his sexual partner’s wants to abort to this commercial exploitation of his child by denying that he is even a parent?

        • Arland Nichols

          The argument could be made but I don’t know that it has a great deal of relevance to the main point of this article. The procedure has colloquially gained the name “three-parent IVF” because the resulting human being has three genetic parents. When I am speaking of the number of parents these human being have I am primarily concerned with genetic patrimony. For what it’s worth, the UK (The HFEA) has said that the “donor” parents have no claim/rights of a parent.

          • publiusnj

            One person’s “colloquialism” is another person’s propaganda. It appears that the UK is looking to ignore any complexities and get on with the commercialization of designer reproduction. We should not accept these elisions of interests though. This “three-parent” propaganda ignores the sire’s “genetic involvement” in the “fertilized egg” torn apart for the dam’s commercial purposes. The dam might like to refer to the process as a “three-parent IVF” but that is because she is the seller and the one who ordered the removal of the sire’s “genetic patrimony” (i.e., his genetic material). He was the father though until that violence.

  • Ruth Rocker

    Of course, in our ultra-selfish age, it would be unthinkable to just not have children, wouldn’t it? The thought of not reproducing themselves in all their splendor is probably too horrible a possibility for the “parents” to consider. How would the world survive unless their seed was spread? How unthinkable the idea of adoption would be if they want children!!

    This is not only a horror show waiting to happen, it is a bright, shining spotlight turned on just how incredibly selfish and self-centered human beings have become. The Zager and Evans song, “In the Year 2525″, there’s a verse that goes “In the year 6565, You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife, You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too, From the bottom of a long glass tube.” I guess we’re getting to that station a little early, huh?

    • James_Kabala

      I don’t know if that is the right approach here. You don’t have to read much history or literature – indeed, you can just read the Bible itself – to learn that all societies throughout human history have considered infertility to be a terrible affliction. Indeed, the truth is that our “ultra-selfish age” is the first to consider infertility no big deal and even something to be embraced voluntarily! Parents who want to have their own biological children have the right instincts – that just need to have it explained to them that this is not the right way to do it.

  • John O’Neill

    To be truthful with ourselves we should recognize that we started down this perverted path of deciding whose life is worthwhile and whose life is not worthwhile a long time ago. So much in American and European culture tends to white wash the science that creates the culture of deciding who lives and who does not live. This started in the early twentieth century with the Eugenics movement of which many prominent Americans including the president Wilson etc. gave their enthusiastic support to the cleansing of the human race so to speak. Even today sex preference is accepted as a justification for abortion both in America and Europe and of course children with the down syndrome are routinely flushed down the sewer. Even in the great enthusiasm that Americans show towards organ donation rings of this same attitude of the interchangeable parts of the whole human. Many will praise the procedure of taking an organ from an almost dying human and transferring it to another as a great moral act. The Japanese are severely criticized by others because they find organ transplants immoral. It is no surprise that organ black markets are widespread throughout the world; a practice whereby poor third world inhabitants are talked into donating organs to be sent to rich Americans and their allies. This whole world of using science in order to both preserve and destroy life is disturbing. O tempora O mores

    • Adam__Baum

      “This started in the early twentieth century with the Eugenics movement of which many prominent Americans including the president Wilson etc. gave their enthusiastic support to the cleansing of the human race so to speak. ”

      Not well known, but the Nazis had intellectual forbearers among that bunch.

      http://hnn.us/article/1796

      “Even the United States Supreme Court endorsed aspects of eugenics. In its infamous 1927 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” This decision opened the floodgates for thousands to be coercively sterilized or otherwise persecuted as subhuman. Years later, the Nazis at the Nuremberg trials quoted Holmes’s words in their own defense.”

      Holmes was a sociopath in a black robe.

  • JediWonk

    How to judge such a novel application of medical technology? Well, what did Jesus Christ say on this topic? Refer to Matthew 7-15:20, please.

    The “fruit” of these efforts is a *baby*, born to parents who otherwise would not be able to have one. You consider this “bad”? Even *evil*? Sorry, folks, on this issue I am “Pro-Life”.

    As for why such efforts are not banned in the U.S., do the words “limited government” mean anything to you?

    • Adam__Baum

      “do the words “limited government” mean anything to you?”

      You are kidding right? That went out with hopey changey.

      We are putting the final nails in the coffin of that idea, by having the feds tell us what toilet to buy, while turning a blind eye to the reduction of people into chattel.

    • Kevin McCormick

      The result (I think “fruit” would be ill-used in this situation) of this technology might indeed be a healthy human being but one whose dignity was violated by being manufactured into existence in a lab. Read some of the writings of children born of IVF and you’ll see just how painful that violation can be. Children are a privilege granted to us by God not a right granted by the world.
      http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/the_pain_of_anonymous_parentage/

      • JediWonk

        Excuse me? My two children were the products of IVF+ICSI. Without that technology they would not exist. My son is 14 and my daughter just turned ten. To date, they have expressed no regret that they exist.

        Disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes from aging are mankind’s oldest and most remorseless enemies. I include infertility in the first category. I see nothing “dignified” about submitting to their depredations. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on fertility medicine and it delivered. My kids are healthy, happy, and my friends say they look just like me, except they are beautiful! They exhibit no regression towards the population mean cognitively, which means that school is effortless for them. One of them is even athletic!

        I followed your link and it reminded me that some years ago I had to warn a leading scholar on the right not to bet her reputation that the kids of single mothers who used anonymous sperm donors would do worse than the natural children of intact middle-class families. Mercifully, she took my advice. Unfortunately, as Tyler Cowen writes, “Average Is Over”, and the kids of anonymous sperm donors have a huge statistical leg up over “average”.

        • Kevin McCormick

          As I said, children conceived through IVF are no less human than anyone else but their right to be conceived through the act of love designed by God is not altered by an ability to circumvent that design whatever the cost. There are many ways in which conception can occur that are beneath the dignity both of the mother and father and the children begotten. Of course once conception has occurred those children deserve the same love and attention owed to any child. But it does not change the sinfulness of the prior act. It’s not a question of whether these children will “succeed” in life but instead one of how we understand our role in participating in God’s design for procreation.

          Further, other grave moral issues surround the use of IVF which include the destruction of the “extra” embryos and/or freezing of these newly conceived human persons until someone decides they are “ready” to be implanted. Selective abortions are a common technique for “reducing” the “unwanted” persons who either appear weaker at an early stage or are simply beyond the number of children desired by the parents. Such acts are unequivocally violations of God’s law.

          • JediWonk

            “Reductive” abortions are done when too many embryos “take”. A 40-year-old woman who ends up with quintuplets risks losing them all and her own life too. As IVF has improved the number of embryos that are transferred in hopes that at least one will “take” has been reduced, and with it the number of pregnancies so “multiple” that reduction is medically indicated.

            My advice to my own daughter will be to marry young (by 25), and make me a grandfather as soon as possible thereafter. By waiting until she was 35 to even *think* about reproduction my wife not only ended up having to endure the use of the heavy weapons of Assisted Reproduction Technology, the thinning out of the mating pool for women of that age forced her to pursue single motherhood.

            Married motherhood was only a last-minute second choice, and not all her friends would agree that I am better than nothing as a mate. (However, none of them would assert that their own kids are smarter, more beautiful, or healthier. Indeed, by the time my son was 1 year old, two elite-professional 20-something beauties had matter-of-factly informed me that if they got to 35 unmarried they were going to become single mothers using my DNA! (Mercifully, both found their “Mr. Right”s in time and both are now married mothers.)

            By the way, when my kids first learned about sex, like most young kids, they thought it was totally gross. Thus, they were relieved to learn that *they* were not made that way–Mommy and Daddy did not have to resort to *that*!

        • Bob

          What did you do with the rest of your children (embryos) produced through IVF?

          • JediWonk

            We ended up with no untried embryos. It took us NINE IVF+ICSI cycles to get two children. Our first three IVF cycles were wasted because my wife’s incompetent gynecologist did not check her uterus for polyps, which act like natural IUDs. Our fourth yielded our now-14-year-old son. We generated 12 embryos, of which four were implanted and only one “took”. The rest were frozen for three subsequent tries. We had a couple of heartbreaking “near-misses” that ended up in miscarriage.

            My wife is a single-issue “pro-choice” voter, but anyone who goes through this kind of heartbreak ends up emotionally “pro-life”. Because by then Mom was past 40, it took two more fresh IVF cycles to get our daughter, and she was a medical miracle: the product of a 45-year-old mom and a 55-year-old dad.

            But yes, we did have to specify contractually what we wanted done if we (somehow) ended up with excess embryos. Our first choice was to let some other infertile couple try to carry them to term. (Since we were not financially constrained, I would probably have hired a gestational surrogate.) If that could not be done, then we wanted them used by researchers to help in mankind’s war against disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes with aging.

            Neither side sees the irony, but those in favor of therapeutic abortion cite “human dignity” as the reason to eliminate genetically defective fetuses (e.g., Down Syndrome). The anti-IVF ideologues cite the same reason why healthy babies ought not be created.

            It’s a philosophical disagreement that *limited* government has no business taking sides in.

            • slainte

              Ye shall be as gods….Genesis 3:5
              .

            • Bob

              So…..

              I say this with all sincerity….I don’t want to offend you but:

              You do realize you created 12 human beings, where only 2 are alive today? That all 12 were your children?

              And that you can not justify morally the deaths of 10 humans in the hopes of producing 2?

              • slainte

                Another consideration is the overall effect on a woman’s long term health after being subjected to serial attempts to hyper-stimulate her ovaries with drugs like follastim, clomid, repronex, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), not to mention hormonal therapy, including progesterone etc.

              • JediWonk

                In my moral universe, one does not have to justify the creation of two beautiful, healthy, and intelligent children.

                In my *physical* universe, what we did is not materially different from creating children without technology. Reproductive science does not have exact nuscience but we know that every zygote created naturally does not end up implanting. And ones that do implant don’t go the distance every time. The term is “miscarriage”, and it happens a lot, especially to couples who get a late start. Note that we attempted to get every single embryo we created to implant, and did not prevent any that did implant from being born (e.g., “reduction” abortions).

                But also, in my physical universe, there are still places where a woman can bear 12 children in her life and have only two of them live to adulthood because of poor sanitation, malnutrition, and the lack of modern medical care. It has only been in my lifetime that First World nations have achieved the mastery of nature required to make the death of a child a rare exception.

                But returning to my moral universe, it that place there is nothing wrong with deviating drastically from the natural model if that is what it takes to produce the “fruits by which I wish to be known”. Again, disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes from aging are mankind’s oldest and most remorseless enemies. It is not only “moral”, it is “obligatory” to wage all-out *war* against such enemies. In war, we send our children into battle where some of them die. In big wars we draft soldiers rather than using just volunteers. Sometimes in combat an entire unit is wiped out to the last man. And these are men with names. People who know them and love them even, not anonymous blastocysts.

                The American way of war is all-out effort to achieve total victory. This is why if you want to lose an election, all you have to do is stand up and say that you oppose using stem cells from embryos to heal spinal chord injuries. REF:

                http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1103/p01s02-uspo.html

                Or even that you are just going to try to cut the rate of spending on Medicare. The only way that I am interested in cutting our spend on Serious Medicine is by *beating* the major (= expensive) diseases of aging as decisively as we beat polio. (And you do know that we take “combat deaths” in the development and then the administration of vaccines, yes? It is still my duty as a father to get my children vaccinated.)

                I understand that you exist in a separate moral universe from mine, one where I would be childless. I mean no disrespect by saying that I am glad in America we have “limited government” in the sense that we do not try to force everyone to live in your moral universe.

                • Bob

                  But don’t we all live in the same moral universe? Don’t we all know by our very nature that murder, stealing, adultery, the killing of innocents, etc…..are wrong? That morality is not relative?

                  You say ” In my moral universe, one does not have to justify the creation of two, beautiful, healthy, and intelligent children.” Two beautiful children are good “ends”, I don’t disagree with that. But the “means” you took to get to that good end were immoral. Good extremes can never be justified by immoral means. It’s like saying I want my children to all go to Harvard which is a good end. But I can’t afford Harvard, so I’m going to rob banks (immoral means) to get the money for the good extreme, getting my child to Harvard.

                  • JediWonk

                    In my moral universe, morality is not “relative”. So in that way the moral universes you and I inhabit are similar. However, they are different in that in mine there is no manipulation of the information about how to construct a human being that is expressed in strands of DNA that is morally bad. And the end, the creation of future taxpayers, is good.

                    In my moral universe a blastocyst is not (yet) a child of mine, much less a mere zygote. But note that you have not responded to my argument that if *if* an embryo was a full-fledged human person, it would still be morally justifiable to draft that person into mankind’s war against disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes from aging. If you disagree, then you have to be an advocate for shutting down all clinical trials *immediately* because we do take “casualties” in them. “Innocents” die that others might live, just as in any other war.

                    • Bob

                      I think you’re at tangenting, and I’m not sure if I know what your saying, but I’ll take a stab…..

                      It sounds like your discussing embryonic stem cell research in an attempt to justify possible cures for disease, injury, etc. My answer is no…..it is not morally justified to “draft” that person (embryo) in to this fight. It goes back to my “means” and “extremes” argument. Yes, embryonic stem cell research should be shutdown. And interesting, there are close to 100 treatments on the market developed from ethical, non embryonic stem cells, and zero treatments from embryonic stem cell research. Apparently, the embryonic stem cell is not the miracle vehicle researchers once theorized. They are, however, developing non embryonic pluripotent stem cells that better mimic the necessary signaling enzymes for boutique-e treatments that will greatly advance personalized. Thus, the “war” against disease can and will be battled and won morally and ethically.

                      There’s a story of one of the top embryo researchers in Japan that has two daughters and also is an atheist. He was looking through his micron microscope and two embryos in a Petri dish and it came very aware to him that his daughters once were no different than these developing embryos, and this is how his daughters lives started. He therefore concluded he could not do research on embryos because they were early stage developing humans.

                      An atheist concluded through the very reasoning and laws imbedded in him that embryos are human. The moral laws we all can reason to if we just think it through…..

                    • JediWonk

                      You are merely “asserting” that it’s not moral to draft embryos into mankind’s war against disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes with aging, not “arguing” that point. To argue need to state if you believe that *any* war can be “moral”. If any can, then can a draft ever be moral? If so, can it ever be moral for a commander to send draftees into situations where they will be killed?

                      It’s great news that adult stem cells appear more promising in terms of developing therapies than embryonic stem cells. Creating embryos for any purpose is arduous, expensive, and risky to the health of the egg donor. *However*, I don’t expect any conservative candidate to win election after coming out against research using embryos anytime soon. The ban on the use of federal funds to create new embryonic cell lines vastly *increased* the funds available for such research as the voters in more than one state approved referenda authorizing billions for that purpose.

                      One way of thinking about this issue is to ask whether it was moral for the United States to target civilian populations in WW-II. I would have had a hard time pulling the trigger on such attacks, most especially the fire-bombing of Tokyo. At least the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki produced the shock and awe needed to prompt a surrender. However, Americans are “Jacksonian” about warfare and so, again, don’t expect to win any statewide election on a program of not fighting disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes with aging all-out.

                    • Bob

                      Another reason embryos can not be drafted in to the war against disease is that it is not a “war” in the classic sense. You are creating innocent human life for the sole purpose of sacrificing it for experimentation. There is only one result for the human embryo….death. A drafted young man that is trained to fight and armed with an AR-15 or a fully equipped and armed Apache Longbow has the reasonable confidence and expectation that he will be able to defend himself, and come home alive. The embryo has no weapon to defend itself, it dies 100% of the time.

                      No, I don’t believe that the killing of 100′s of thousands of innocents in Hiroshima and Berlin was moral. But I have the luxury of arm chair quarterbacking that decision 68 years later. It’s similar to the weeks post 9/11 2001, when every liberal-conservative, Republican-Democrat, were in one voice saying “I don’t care what you do or how you do it…..but get these guys that killed 3000 innocent humans before they attack us again.” Now, 12 years later we are arm chairing the techniques used tovkeep us safe. It’s similar to the current drone strikes, where innocent collateral damage is happening. I don’t think history will be too kind to this administration.

                    • Bob

                      You’re argument does not fulfill (and violates) the principle of proportionality. Creating and killing/experimenting on innocent human beings so that others may (possibly…..one thing I’ve learned from years in medicine is that there are no guarantees) live longer is not justified.

                    • Bob

                      This was in response to JediWonk….

                    • JediWonk

                      *I* created embryos purely for the purpose of having them born as my children. If we could have produced just 2 embryos in one IVF cycle and gotten two children, we would have done that. No one has addressed my point that all we did is mimic with technology what happens in nature. For all I know, ART (assisted reproductive technology) might have a better success rate in terms of embryos that go the distance than reproducing the fun way.

                      That said, the Republican Party will keep losing elections as long as it treats health care as mere “economics”. To the electorate, medicine is clearly a species of warfare, and every day is 9/12/2001. The voters know that they are going to lose every one of their loved ones (not to mention themselves) to disease, injury, or the incapacitation that comes from aging.

                      If Matthew 7:15-20 does not do it for you, how about John 15:13? (“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”)

                    • Bob

                      You did not mimic with technology what happens in nature. In nature, God determines life and death. It’s not your choice who lives or dies, it’s God’s. You made yourself a god, created life knowing fully consciously well that the majority of human embryos you created would have to die for the possibility of creating life. And no, ART does not have a better success rate than nature. For every IVF-ET baby born, anywhere from 5-30 human embryos are created and then killed off at the altar of Molock, that’s a lousy batting average. Once again, you have made yourself your own god, your own arbiter of life and death.

                    • JediWonk

                      I would be delighted to be appointed the arbiter of IVF life and death! Where can I find this Molock guy to lobby for being granted that power? I would always choose life, as would any other would-be parents forced to resort to IVF.

                      An IVF cycle is arduous for the mother and also financially very expensive. We purposely killed no embryos. We created them so that they could become our children, after all, not for research or stem cell therapy purposes. (Not that there is anything wrong with that in my moral universe.)

                      True, not all the embryos we transferred into their mother implanted. Indeed, due to epic gynecological malpractice on the part of Mom’s first GYN, none created by our first three IVF cycles did. But no embryos created the old-fashioned way would have either.

                      As for whether ART has a better success rate than nature, what is your source on nature’s success rate? Thinking about the number of months we tried to get pregnant the natural way when Mom had polyps in her uterus vs. the number of IVF embryos that did not “take”, it’s completely possible that the natural way resulted in more wasted embryos.

                      I find it interesting that Leon Kass opposed IVF in the 1970s:

                      http://www.nasw.org/users/robinhenig/PandorasBaby.htm

                      but by the time I spoke with him in-person on the topic while he was Chairman of the President’s (Bush 43) Council on Bioethics, he had climbed down from that position. I assume Matthew 7:15-20 had just overwhelmed him. By now a *million* babies have been born via IVF that otherwise would not have been born. Two of them were mine. The God of *my* moral universe told us:

                      Genesis 1-28: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

                      And, in my moral universe, *human beings* are “living things that moveth upon the earth. We therefore have “dominion” over disease, injury, and the incapacitation that comes with aging.

                      YMUMD (your moral universe may differ). And even in my moral universe, one is free to submit to nature rather than seek “dominion” over her.

                    • Bob

                      …….also JediWonk, you’re making an argument that lives must be sacrificed so that others may live longer. That embryos are less human (and therefore, of less value) than that of a 40 year old with cancer. Be careful with that, it smacks of Utilitarianism and that societal experiment has been done before to disastrous results.

                      “Use the Force…..JediWonk!:)” think it through……reason and science show that human life starts at conception, and that a 3 day old zygote is a human that is developing in to a 5 day old human embryo that is developing in to a 6 month old human fetus that is developing in to a 5 year old little girl that is developing in to a 30 year old researcher that finds an ethical cure for cancer. It’s all stages of human development…..to the natural end.

                    • JediWonk

                      Here we differ. In my moral universe, reason does not hold that a zygote is a human person, and in my physical universe what is a human person is an issue that science is silent on. What science is *not* silent on is that medical research efforts will result in our killing some people. Refer to the history of the development of the VAMP treatment for pediatric leukemia.

                      And that is not how I felt about my blastocysts. If, somehow, they could not be turned into children, far better that they be used to advance medicine than end up dying in a freezer or being flushed down a drain.

                      In any case, the root cause of most cancers will be found to be some pathogen. REF: Cochran & Ewald: “Infectious Disease: An Evolutionary Perspective”. But sure, I would sacrifice as many blastocysts as it took to repair a real child’s spinal chord. That said, IVF is so onerous that if the trick can be done with adult stem cells, that is the way to go. But that *is* my judgement about relative value, and I would be happy to be on the other side of any state or national election from you on that issue.

    • Bob

      Every commercially available IVF lab in the country creates as many as 5-30 extra embryos for each one baby that is born.

      Sorry, but…..those 5-30 extra humans that are produced by IVF and then either frozen or discarded might disagree with your definition of “pro life.”

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  • Adam__Baum

    It occurs to me that some people are using “Brave New World” and “1984″ as blueprints, rather than warnings.

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