Thursday 24 July 2008

Continued overwhelming silence of religious leaders and the pro-life movement on why IVF is always wrong will be a catastrophe

Continued overwhelming silence on the part of religious leaders and the pro-life movement on why IVF is always wrong will be a catastrophe in the struggle to defend the sanctity of human life from conception till natural death. Already, the pro-life struggle is being undermined by widespread acceptance of IVF in the communities from which the movement derives most of its support. Compassion for childless couples may be the reason for such silence – but it cannot be justified, in view of the availability of the more effective alternative of NaproTechnology, and, above all, in view of terrible human cost of the IVF industry.

2,137,924 human embryos were created by specialists while assisting couples in the UK to have babies between 1991 and 2005, according to BioNews. During this period, the HFEA informs us that the total of live babies born through IVF procedures was 109,469. What happened to the other 2,028,455 human embryos? Again, according to BioNews:

“Unused embryos in clinics under UK law may by consent be discarded, frozen, donated to research or donated to other infertile couples…” and, of course, many embryos are transferred to the womb only to miscarry or to be selectively aborted.

If the abuse and destruction of literally millions of human beings are passed over in silence in the name of compassion something is badly wrong. How can any human life be effectively defended – from abortion, destructive embryo research or even from euthanasia – when the lives of millions of human beings cannot be mentioned for fear of giving offence?

This week the Telegraph newspaper in the UK has carried a number of stories and interviews highlighting changes in IVF and other aspects of assisted reproductive technology since the birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, 30 years ago.

The Telegraph coverage illustrates all too clearly how IVF has led to human embryos being treated as products to be discarded when “faulty” (disabled) or excess to requirements.

The very language of journalism – Judith Woods of the Telegraph refers to “the birth of the IVF industry” thirty years ago – reveals the truth at the heart of IVF: the IVF child is in a position of profound subordination to the will of the technologists and parents. The technologist becomes the ‘maker’ of another without the protecting love that a parent normally provides.

SPUC's basic objection to IVF is that it amounts to the manufacture of human beings. The practice of IVF assumes that our offspring may be produced in the laboratory, and that the role of the natural mother, in safeguarding with her own body the welfare of the embryo from conception, may legitimately be transferred to other people. IVF thus makes embryos vulnerable, exposing them to the risks of being discarded, frozen or experimented upon. Many thousands of human embryos have perished in the development and practice of IVF.

Recently, the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute prepared a paper for SPUC regarding the “Creation and Transfer of Single Embryo in Reproductive Technology”. What they say is, in my view, very important, so it is reproduced in full on the SPUC website here.