Morality Reflections-In Vitro Fertilization

Briefly explained, “in vitro fertilization involves the union of sperm and egg outside of the womb, in a petri dish, with the subsequent transfer of the fertilized egg into the uterus of the woman bearing the child” (EMH 207). Many couples resort to this method after experiencing the pain of being unable to conceive a child through natural means. Their reasons for doing so are varied: they may feel that if God invented technology that means he must want us to us it, or that they are not complete without a baby, or may simple be unaware of any reasons why they shouldn’t make use of any available means to achieve their goal of becoming parents. It is worth mentioning the increasing role that the media plays in presenting problematic moral issues as “acceptable”. In the absence of other role models, society often turns to these examples more and more as a norm to follow. It is a sad fact that for the majority of people, in vitro fertilization hardly presents a moral problem at all. Our consciences have become so obscured that we think little of the implications of such an act. As appealing as the emotional arguments that are usually put forth to justify the use of in vitro fertilization, we must remind people that certain acts are deemed intrinsically evil and therefore are always objectionable. In replying to those who would present arguments showing the feasibility of such methods as a reason for their use we could respond that we are called to use our freedom not to do whatever is technically possible, but along with and in concordance with God’s law (Veritatis Splendor, # 35).
Along with the problems in their reasoning we can point out the consequences of resorting to in vitro fertilization. One of the main problems with in vitro fertilization is that it requires the fertilization of several eggs, and not all of them may be implanted in the woman’s utero at the same time, leaving some to be frozen or simply discarded (EMH, p. 207). This actions are a grave violation to the rights of the embryos, for, as the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in the document Donum Vitae: “Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and subjects with rights: their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence”(#5). In addition to these grave offenses against human dignity, in vitro fertilization opens the door for further aberrations such as genetical manipulation, and many other future abuses as we may not even fathom today. To the couples who may feel it is right to use in vitro solely because it exits, we reiterate that what is technically possible is not for that very reason morally admissible (Donum Vitae 4). The Church recognizes the positive role that reproductive technology may play when it aids the couple having trouble conceiving, but in vitro fertilization is not an aid, but a replacement of the physical union. In the final analysis, the opinion of those who justify the use of in vitro fertilization boil down to a kind of consequentialism, where the goodness of the action is judged on the consequences of it. This kind of reasoning was categorically rejected by pope John Paul II in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor. He wrote “ the consideration of these consequences, and also of their intentions, is not sufficient for judging the moral quality of a concrete choice” (SV, # 77). He continues saying “ the morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the “object” rationally chosen by the deliberate will” (SV, # 77).

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