Thursday, 28 April 2011

Catholic Embryo adoption?

Once immorally conceived in a Petri dish, instead of through the loving marital action, should 'surplus' embryos be discarded or would it be morally right to implant an embryo to save it.

Yes: Jo Shaw
Dr Gerard Nadal

No: John Smeaton
Fr John Fleming (Bioethicist advisor to SPUC) Book
The Vatican(?)

I think this article of Dignitas Personae clarifies in my mind that it is not right and we must not cooperate with evil:
With regard to the large number of frozen embryos already in existence the question becomes: what to do with them? All the answers that have been proposed (use the embryos for research or for the treatment of disease; thaw them without reactivating them and use them for research, as if they were normal cadavers; put them at the disposal of infertile couples as a “treatment for infertility”; allow a form of “prenatal adoption”) present real problems of various kinds. It needs to be recognized “that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore, John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons” (n. 19).

However, I am very impressed with the 'Yes' arguments and to avoid post conciliar stagnation, i'd welcome lively debate around this issue. From a doctor's point of view, I'd want to know the practicalities eg. Consenting biological mothers for donation rather than just storage. An interesting topic. As John Fleming says regarding Dignitas Personae
It’s as if the church is saying to the secular world: “You created this situation by wantonly and irresponsibly creating human embryos in vitro and you are asking the church to solve the problem. It’s up to you to solve this unjust situation yourself by stopping creating embryos outside the body and freezing them.”


Kindred Spirit said...

In vitro fertilization as a mode of conception is a moral evil, of course, but so is rape as a mode of conception. Does this mean that life should/must only be preserved if it is conceived in a loving marital situation? If so, there are many of us alive now who would not be here. The moral evil is the destruction of life, and that is clearly the greater evil. While it is clear that one may not do evil, how it it not an evil to knowingly allow created life to be destroyed when it can be preserved?

Giles said...

The best possible situation would be if IVF stopped now - I think all parties so far in the discussion following on from Gerard Nadar's piece and John Fleming's response would agree that.

But even if by some miracle it did stop now, we would still be left with the question of what to do with the 'surplus' lives already created and now in cold storage.

As it is such individuals are likely to carry on being created immorally for the forseeable future.

If we were talking about children who had been born but were now unwanted, we would put them up for adoption, not - for example - expose them on hillsides in the manner of the ancients.

John Fleming argues that those created by IVF but as yet unborn and unwanted should be left in hands of God - which I take to be a euphemism for acquiescing in their destruction or storage until such time as they are no longer viable.

This implies that if someone hasn't been implanted and born yet, they are of lesser status than someone who has been implanted and born. How different is this from the abortionists' mindset, that the unborn are fair game even up to full term.

I am very wary of perpetuating an evil by being forever prepared to clean up after the immoral acts of society, but I am I think more wary of abandoning this particular group of defenceless human lives when a means of alllowing their life and flourishing is available to us.

Giles said...

St Thomas More wrote: “You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds … What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.” (Utopia, 1516)

I think this has a bearing on the present discussion - see here.