Saturday, September 07, 2013

Is In Vitro Fertilization A Moral Issue?

Photo Credit: Torsten Mangner
With the increasing availability of reproductive technology, a growing number of Christian families that have struggled with infertility have chosen to utilize in vitro fertilization (IVF) and even surrogacy.

However, according to a recent Pew Forum report, a large number of Americans (46%) do not view IVF as being a moral issue. In comparison, only 23% view abortion as not being a moral issue. In contrast, 49% of Americans view abortion as being morally wrong, whereas only 12% of Americans are opposed to IVF on moral grounds.

In an article on the Hermeneutics blog entitled "The Overlooked Ethics of Reproduction", Jennifer Lahl raises some thought-provoking questions about whether the creation of life should be viewed in moral terms in a similar fashion to how we view the taking of life. In other words, the question at hand is whether God, as the author of life, cares about the circumstances in which life is created?

Lahl offers this:
"While grieving with those who struggle with infertility, Christians still need to look more carefully at today's reproductive technologies such as IVF in light of our beliefs about God, life, our bodies, and our children. 
Since the time of the Old Testament, infertility has been part of the human experience. Many of us know someone who has struggled desperately to have a child or have experienced that difficulty ourselves. In the 21st century, though, infertility is met with "options," "solutions," and countless technologies offering hope to those in our midst struggling with fertility issues. Rather than rushing to embrace any procedure that might bring us a child—IVF, sperm or egg donors, surrogacy—we should consider the appropriate use and limits of technology. 
The fact that so many people fail to consider the moral implications of IVF suggests that in the age of fertility treatments, surrogates, and modern family-building via parenting partnerships, a woman's womb has come to be seen as a somewhat arbitrary location. NBC's The New Normal quips that women are "Easy-Bake Ovens" and children are "cupcakes." 
In Scripture, God affirms that what happens in utero matters and cannot be casually or disrespectfully dismissed. The womb, where God first knits us together (Ps. 139:13-14), is not an arbitrary place for a child to grow and develop. In fact, modern science has proven just how important those 9 months are—for both mother and child. 
Renowned marriage and family therapist Nancy Verrier, in her book The Primal Wound, writes about how mothers are biologically, hormonally, and emotionally programmed to bond with their babies in utero as well as at birth. A baby knows his or her mother at birth, and both the mother and the baby will experience grief at any separation at the time of birth. This primal wound is forever present. 
In other words, it's nowhere as easy as the Easy-Bake metaphor. In the case of surrogacy, we can interrupt the natural rhythm for mother and child and risk negative effects. (It is worth noting that surrogacy differs from adoption in that surrogacy intentionally establishes a situation that demands that a woman not bond with the child she is carrying.)
These are some important issues to consider and each Christian family should prayefully consider the ethics involved in utilizing modern technology in creating new life.

You can read the rest of Lahl's article here.

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