LFM

(Ethical Problems with) Reproductive Technologies

Because children are a great blessing and infertility is a cause of great heartache, reproductive technology appears to be at the service of human life and happiness. But while the use of technology to overcome fertility problems is not wrong in and of itself, many methods of reproductive technology, such as IVF, fail to properly reverence life, the unity of marriage and human procreation.

Reverence for life means that forms of reproductive technology which involve a willingness to expend or harm human life by discarding, freezing or subjecting embryos to excessive risk are morally unacceptable.

Reverence for the unity of marriage means that a couple should become a father or mother only together with the other spouse, thereby excluding forms of reproductive technology that involve donor eggs or sperm, or surrogacy.

Reverence for human procreation means that children should come into being as a direct result of the love-making of their parents, where they are accepted as a ‘gift’ and blessing and not as a ‘product’ of doctors and technicians.  Technology can be used to assist the fertility of a couple’s sexual acts, but it should never replace the sexual act and dominate over the origin of a human person. While every child, irrespective of the circumstances of his or her conception, is an image and gift of God, we have a responsibility to ensure that respect for the dignity of the child begins in the act and at the moment in which life is transmitted to a new human being.

The expansive use of reproductive technology also means that more and more children begin life with a single parent or a combination of ‘genetic’, ‘gestational’ or ‘social’ parents. This deprives them of the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage.

Surrogacy involves a woman becoming pregnant, usually through assisted reproductive technology, and bearing a child for another woman or couple. Although the motives of all concerned will often be good, surrogacy instrumentalises children by placing the process of their conception, birth and upbringing under a contract. In a surrogacy agreement, whether it is commercial or altruistic, the child is the object of an arrangement aimed at fulfilling the needs of the ‘parents’.  Furthermore, in the absence of conclusive empirical evidence about the immediate and long term effects of surrogacy upon children, surrogacy is an experiment in child welfare.

Surrogacy also instrumentalises women who, for complex reasons, may feel a duty to ‘volunteer’ their wombs for those purposes. More generally, surrogacy weakens the integrity and functionality of the family by confusing relationships between children and parents, as well as relationships between spouses or partners, and contributes to a vision of family life dominated by adult desires.

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