There was a good deal of coverage regarding the recent case of a court awarding a women with SSA $170,000 after she was fired from a Catholic school for using IVF.
The case gained attention partly because opposition to IVF has remained largely a Catholic distinctive. While supposedly the U.S. has become more pro-life in regards to abortion, there has not been the same followthrough in regards to opposition to IVF. The poison of the support of contraception within most of Protestantism led also to IVF hardly being controversial.
I am reminded of this because of Rebecca Taylor’s recent story on New IVF Embryo Quality Control
In manufacturing, quality control (QC) is very important. A manufacturer always wants to put out the best product and eliminate defective merchandise.
The same is true of IVF. With as many as 30 embryos created for every live birth, doctors are always on the look out for ways to separate the robust embryos from the “defective” ones to improve their success rates. Previously this was achieved by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD.) In PGD, a single cell is removed from the days old embryo and tested for genetic anomalies. The ones that pass the test get a chance at being transferred to their mother’s womb. The others…well they are defective so no need to mention what happens to them, right?
The idea of “30 embryos created for every live birth” is so hard to fathom as something that happens. There is a mighty corruption at work that can transform the natural desire to have a child to allow the sacrifice of 29 siblings for that one child. The idea of life being from conception seems to get lost on people that might be otherwise pro-life when it comes to IVF. Part of this is from the push to make implantation the start of life instead.
I am reminded of the 1973 movie “Soylent Green” where the Policeman played by Charleston Heston wants to spread that word about the food source “Soylent Green”, that “Soylent Green is people!”
Well in this case I want to spread the word that “Embryos are people!” There is an attempt to take a word for a stage of life regarding the human person and to use the term to dehumanize. The false dichotomy between embryo and human person or the same regarding the word fetus.
Embryos are people!
Getting back to the article:
You may think I am being harsh comparing this new technique to manufacturing QC. That is until you read this comment by the chair of the British Fertility Society:
Allan Pacey, lecturer in andrology at Sheffield University and chair of the British Fertility Society, said: “This paper is interesting because we really do need to make advances in selecting the best embryos created during IVF.”
Mass produce, screen the product, choose the best and cull the rest. Above all, NEVER mention that these are actual human beings.
As a side-note, I would avoid the book Soylent Green was based on, “Make room, Make Room” by the recently deceased Harry Harrison. It was motivated by the doom and gloom of the late 1960’s and the chicken little-ing regarding the “Population Bomb” with some anti-Catholicism thrown in. I actually liked the movie much more. It was campy, but added the whole Soylent Green plot and unlike the book did not end in a total lack of hope.
The Church can oppose embryo tampering without believing the embryo is a person. That’s why the phrase “human life” is sometimes used in documents not “person”. Section 60 of Evangelium Vitae seems to waver on this. The problem is that modern embryology shows that the pre 15 day cell mass is composed of totipotential cells for fourteen days that can divide into identical tripulets etc. as late as day 14. And though rare in nature, the lab can tease embryos into twinning etc because of the totipotential aspect of the cells. Aquinas held that a rational soul cannot divide and that it fills all parts of the body…which means a person cannot divide into several persons. An opposite phenomenon arguing against personhood at conception is the chimeric event into which two fraternal twins embryos lie too close to each other on day one of
conception and they merge into one cell mass becoming one person later on. Had they been two persons at conception, you’d have to believe that two people became one person. Remember that Aquinas saw all abortion as sinful but he did not believe there was a rational soul for quite some time which is reflected in Trent’s catechism which states in the section on Incarnation that only Christ was immediately ensouled. Later St. Alphonsus was to hold to this view even though his century had the beginnings of the early ensoulment commentators within Catholicism. But infallibility has not been used on this question and the delayed school actually lasted longer so far since not the young but the older Jerome and Augustine saw actual murder of a pre born as delayed ( their younger comments seem the opposite of their later comments.)
[…] THE IDEA OF “30 embryos created for every live birth” is so hard to fathom as something that happens. There […]