Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Donum Vitae!!

Today is the 19th anniversary of the promulgation of the document Donum Vitae. This document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addresses in detail the problem of in vitro fertilization.

Equally as urgent as the problem of contraception is the problem of artificial procreation. Both of these acts separate the generation of life from the sexual act, cheapening the sexual act and making children into a commodity. In reality, however, children are a responsibility to be accepted lovingly from God as a result of the sexual expression of marital love. If by God's design the procreation of a child is not possible, no sin or offense against nature has taken place, yet if permanent or temporary sterilization is sought, a grave offense against marriage, God and nature has happened.

On the other hand, when procreation is not possible because of God's design, a couple ought not believe that it is their right or privilege to create a child artificially because technology makes it possible. This technology is actually an abuse of life, not at life's service.

IVF is also not medically safe. Babies created through IFV have a greater susceptibility to health problems. Mothers who undergo IFV treatment have a more difficult pregnancy, more difficult post-partum depression and more difficulty with bonding with the child.

Another problem of IVF is that there are often too many babies created than can be prudently brought to term. These tiny persons are then frozen into a physical limbo state and present an ethical dilemma. The options are: keep the babies frozen; donate them to research; defrost them and allow them to die; or allow other couples to "adopt" them and bring them to term, which is called snowflake adoption. None of these options seem morally acceptable except maybe the last. (The Catholic Church has not yet made a decision about the last option, in case you are wondering.)

Donum Vitae is presented in a user-friendly question and answer format. Enjoy!

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