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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 6:33 pm 
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Here's another one of the social issues that even many Christians see no problem with and now we learn that this "personal choice" negatively affects more than just the one making the choice. I must confess, though, that I never really thought much about what it would feel like to know that you were conceived as a commodity rather than the fruit of two people in love.
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A Question Mark Hangs Over Their Heads

May 17th, 2011 by Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk

When I do presentations on in vitro fertilization, audience members sometimes ask whether test tube babies experience psychological problems as they grow up. Although they clearly face elevated health risks for a number of diseases and physical disorders, the psychological effects on these children have not been thoroughly studied. Nevertheless, children born from other, closely related technologies, like anonymous sperm donation, are starting to be tracked, and researchers are finding that these children face significant difficulties in dealing with their feelings and emotions as they grow older. They oftentimes struggle with their own sense of dignity and identity, with their need for a father, and with a desire to understand their family connection.

A recent online article in Slate Magazine entitled, “The Sperm Donor Kids Are Not Really Alright” describes one such study and includes some thought-provoking personal testimony from a British writer named Christine Whipp. Whipp, herself conceived by anonymous sperm donation, expresses the feelings that some donor offspring have of being, in the pointed words of the article, a “freak of nature” or a “lab experiment.” She puts it this way: “My existence owed almost nothing to the serendipitous nature of normal human reproduction, where babies are the natural progression of mutually fulfilling adult relationships, but rather represented a verbal contract, a financial transaction and a cold, clinical harnessing of medical technology.”

A growing number of children born this way instinctively sense how that “cold, clinical harnessing of technology” can never quite measure up to the warmth and commitment embodied in the life-giving marital embrace of a mother and a father. The absent father who donates sperm anonymously, the financial exchanges involved, and the depersonalized laboratory environment surrounding their origins imply an element of being “used.” It can be difficult for such children to put into words what they are really feeling and experiencing, as a young man named Craig emphasizes in his online comments following the Slate Magazine article:

“The confusion I felt growing up was not your normal run of the mill confusion. I didn’t even begin to understand the inner turmoil I felt until I found out about my beginnings. My suggestion to you would be that before you start giving suggestions to others about how to live in a mixed family, come to know what it’s like to be a child who knows something is wrong but you just don’t know why. Know you’re different… but you just don’t know why. Live with a question mark over your head every day of your life and not be able to put words to that question.”

Another young person in the same situation poignantly comments:

“I am a product of sperm donation and I can tell you that I always hated growing up without a dad. I can’t tell my mom how I feel because I said something to her when I was little and she got very hurt and upset and tried to explain to me that a lot of kids grow up without dads and kinda went into all of this women can do this and women can do that and most women really don’t need a man and blah blah blah. So I now keep all of my feelings to myself. I can tell you that for as much as I love her, inwards I still hate her for doing this to me and thinking that she had a right to decide if I needed a dad or not.”

All children deserve to have a mother and a father as they grow up. We should never intentionally choose to set up situations where a child will be conceived in a manner that deprives him or her of a parent. Every child, moreover, is entitled to the full respect of being conceived and brought into the world only though the marital acts of committed parents, through the intimate, loving embrace of husband and wife, not in petri dishes and test tubes.

Because awareness of our own human roots is critical to our sense of personal identity, and because of our vulnerable “sense of self” as humans, we have a particular responsibility to avoid creating a subclass of those who have different origins from the rest of us. It ought to come as no surprise that subtle psychological burdens may be placed upon children born from donor sperm as they subjectively struggle with broken or absent relationships, and experience a sense of being a “commodity” or an “object” because of how they were created. These dark and morally troubling aspects of modern reproductive technologies need to be more fully acknowledged and discussed in our society, as they unleash powerful forces that profoundly affect the future of the human beings who are thereby brought into the world.


Fr. Pacholczyk earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

(This article courtesy of the Arlington Catholic Herald.)

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bronwyn says:
May 17th, 2011 at 7:02 am
Thank you Father for speaking out against this practice. It seems no one looked beyond his or her immediate needs to think about the repercussion. Annonymous sperm donation and surrogates have helped foster the all this confusion.
I remember watching the Oprah show with guest Ricky Martin who has twin sons helped along by a surrogate. He went to elaborate efforts to conceal the “mother” of his twins. He apparently took the eggs of one woman and had them implanted in the womb of another woman who carrired the children for him. When Oprah asked Mr. Martin what would he tell his boys when they asked about their mother, he responded, “I am your mother.”
Unfortunately this will be a generation with countless half siblings (how many sperm donations are you allowed to make anyway) walking this earth or still frozen in petri dishes. This horror will not go away.


http://catholicexchange.com/2011/05/17/153175/


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 6:54 pm 
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There's a lot of debate about all of these fertility treatments even among believers. I understand that you're a Roman Catholic and that you are opposed to all of these procedures which is perfectly fine. As for me, I don't have an ethical problem with in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination under narrow guidelines. The biological portions should be from a husband and wife and no extra embryos left in a freezer. However many eggs are fertilized get implanted all at once. I think the psychological impact of being conceived through in vitro fertilization when the egg was moms and the sperm was dads would surely be minimal. There's no comparison between that and being "fathered" by a random sperm donor that you will never meet (which I'm pretty horrified by). Children have always been seen as a commodity by at least a portion of society throughout human history. In the 19th century it showed up in families having many children to provide workers for the farm instead of welcoming children to the family as blessings of the Lord. This trend is just an extension of that with a new twist. We as believers must constantly battle that perspective through how we live out our own lives and through what we advocate for in the public arena.

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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 7:37 pm 
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The problem with IVF's fertilization many eggs is twofold:

1. Assuming they were to all plant, it would virtually require elective abortions to prevent the mother from having four to eight children simultaneously.
2. More likely, not all will implant. This turns out to be the moral equivalent (in some ways!) of buying a scrap of food and telling you three children to fight to the death over it. In the end, you have fertilized enough children that even though some will die, one ought to survive. That's obviously problematic.

You don't have to be a Catholic to see that fertilizing multiple eggs and implanting them is HIGHLY problematic from a moral perspective.

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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:00 pm 
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Jac3510 wrote:
The problem with IVF's fertilization many eggs is twofold:

1. Assuming they were to all plant, it would virtually require elective abortions to prevent the mother from having four to eight children simultaneously.
2. More likely, not all will implant. This turns out to be the moral equivalent (in some ways!) of buying a scrap of food and telling you three children to fight to the death over it. In the end, you have fertilized enough children that even though some will die, one ought to survive. That's obviously problematic.

You don't have to be a Catholic to see that fertilizing multiple eggs and implanting them is HIGHLY problematic from a moral perspective.

There are pro-life OB/Gyns that will only fertilize the number of embryos the mother is willing to have implanted and able to carry at once. Typically, these doctors do a maximum of 3. Triplets are still within the normal capability of a healthy woman to carry (they occur naturally occasionally). I think this is a issue that has to be wrestled with in a person's conscience. Christian liberty has some room for people's individual convictions on some issues.

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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:01 pm 
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As I said, it is HIGHLY problematic. That doesn't mean all problems can't be dealt with. If a woman is willing to bear triplets, then fertilizing three eggs is not necessarily immoral (on my view). But that's obviously not the way MOST IVF works.

Further, IVF in which a woman becomes pregnant without a (the?) father is clearly wrong, since children ought not be intentionally brought into a fatherless home. Now, that doesn't (on my view) mean that a couple cannot have IVF from an anonymous donor if, say, the man is sterile and intends to adopt the child. But, again, these are rare exceptions to the way IVF is normally done.

Some things are always and indisputably wrong (abortifacient birth control, for instance, e.g., the IUD). Some are highly problematic, in that they have severe limitations on how they can morally be used (e.g., IVF). Those in the former category should absolutely always be avoided. Those in the latter should almost always be avoided. 'Tis all I'm saying.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:16 pm 
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I would urge caution when discussing matters of infertility. Your comments can be construed as callous to those who have lost babies. If you have not experienced infertility or lost babies that you desperately wanted, then please think before casting judgment on those who may go further in infertility practices than you might agree with. When your heart aches because of the babies you never held, you might find your only hope in infertility procedures. It's sometimes difficult for those who have conceived easily to understand the years of infertility and the pain of loss that many women and men have borne.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:08 pm 
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Whatever pain people suffer from infertility, which is clearly significant, it doesn't justify the intentional death of human beings, which is exactly what most versions of IVF do.

Yes, many people--men and women--suffer greatly from this. It's truly sad. The proper response is to find morally acceptable means to deal with the issue and offer friendship, compassion, and a shoulder to cry on when necessary. And there are infertility treatments that are morally acceptable. We should direct such people to those cases, not send them off to have a large number of eggs fertilized in hopes that one will implant properly and then abort the rest if too many happen to do so. Such a response isn't compassionate at all.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:51 am 
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You are right to remind us to be sensitive to those who carry the cross of infertility, but that does not mean that a person who has not suffered from a condition has no right to speak about it. (That's an argument that so many feminists have used on men when it comes to abortion) FWIW, I have had problems & I have miscarried.

(In fact, I have to say that I had to struggle hardest, while I was grieving, not to be offended by those who suggested that because I already had 3 children at that time, my grief should not so great. I realize the cross is much heavier for those who never carried to term and have no living children, but children are not interchangeable or replaceable either)

The point here is how far should a person be willing to go to have a baby - just because one has a desire that is good, doesn't mean that any means to achieve that desire is good. Obviously, killing a woman to take her baby is unacceptable. And as others here have pointed out, creating many lives knowing that most of them will die or be terminated in hopes of getting to keep one is also morally problematic (to say the least).

But this article points out a dimension that is virtually never considered - what about the child who lives? We assume that the child will feel valued because they were a "wanted" child, but preliminary research is indicating that we may have assumed wrongly.

We already know that abortion - instead of decreasing child abuse because every child would be a "wanted child" - actually has escalated child abuse. Researchers have tried hard to figure out why. Apparently, those who have the mindset that they get to choose their children, are more likely to get abusive when their chosen children don't turn out the way they had expected them to - esp if they have problems and/or get into trouble. (This is in Randy Alcorn's book on "Answering Objections to Pro-Life Arguments" - he has a website & it is probably on there, too. BTW, he's not Catholic; I believe he is an evangelical.)

Turns out that children who grow up like that are also more likely to act out - they are insecure because they're not sure that they will still be loved if they fail to be the child that their parent wanted. Why would this be any different for a child conceived in vitro because their parents wanted a child?

And a final consideration is that children are a gift from God not a right. We get into trouble as soon as we start thinking 'but I have a right to...' when we are talking about God's domain. And creating life is God's domain. God is THE Creator and we are only procreators; that means that He very graciously allows us to participate in that process, but He gets the final word. It is an amazing gift, but with great gifts comes great responsibility.

Sex is not just another biological bodily function; God made it holy when He instituted marriage as a covenant. God designed sex so that children could be begotten as an act of love - yes, we have corrupted that act in so many ways, but that doesn't lessen God's original intent nor let us off the hook from respecting His design. The sexual relationship is between a married couple & God, not a married couple & a doctor.

That said, a doctor can certainly help facilitate things, but it needs to be done in a way that helps the couple to follow God's design rather than in a way that plays God.

There is a Catholic doctor who has come up with a fertility treatment called NaPro Technology who is having better success than the secular doctors, (& his patients don't have to deal with scary side effects of hormones being dumped on top of an endocrine system that's already not functioning properly) & that is because he & his fellow doctors are working with the reproductive systems as God designed them instead of trying to force things to happen themselves - http://www.catholicinfertility.org/naprotechnology.html


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