Monday, May 17, 2010

Questionable Practices

The Shady Side of In Vitro Fertilization

By Father John Flynn, L.C.

ROME, MAY 16, 2010 ( The Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilization (IVF) is well-known, but recently some of these practices are being questioned even by secular observers.

A May 10 article published by the New York Times looked at the topic of paying women to produce eggs for other couples. It cited a recent issue of a bioethics journal, The Hastings Center Report, which found that payment to young women is often above industry guidelines.

The study, by Aaron Levine, an assistant professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that a quarter of 100 egg ads in college newspapers offered more than the $10,000 limit of the voluntary ceiling established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

Higher payments were offered for women at prestigious colleges and for those who had above average academic results.

According to the New York Times almost 10,000 children were born through donor eggs in 2006, around double the number in 2000.

The article also referred to concerns over the health risks for donors, particularly as young women may not be aware of the serious nature of some of these side effects.

The health risks were explained in an article published March 3 by In the piece Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, urged women to rethink any plans they have to donate their eggs.

The article recounted how for the third time in the last year-and-a-half children born to Indian surrogate mothers faced obstacles in being legally recognized by countries of their genetic parents.

Read on for more on stories of surrogacy, dangers involved, legal problems, the state of law and the Bishops' teaching.

Life and love

The use of surrogate mothers and third parties in IVF was one of the issues dealt with in a document published last November by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology," the bishops sympathized with couples who suffer due to fertility problems, but they stated that not all solutions respect the dignity of the couple's marital relationship. The end does not justify the means, and some reproductive technologies are not morally legitimate, they affirmed.

The temptation to have a child produced or made, as products of technology, should be resisted, the document urged. "Then children themselves may come to be seen as products of our technology, even as consumer goods that parents have paid for and have a "right" to expect -- and not as fellow persons, equal in dignity to their parents and destined to eternal happiness with God," it pointed out.

Moreover, introducing third parties, by using eggs or sperm from donors, or through surrogacy, violates the integrity of the marital relationship, just as it would be violated by sexual relations with a person outside the marriage.

"Fertility clinics show disrespect for young men and women when they treat them as commodities, by offering large sums of money for sperm or egg donors with specific intellectual, physical, or personality traits," the document added.

The bishops also noted that these cash incentives can lead women to put in jeopardy their health in the egg extraction process. There are, indeed, many good reasons to have serious objections to IVF.

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