Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lucia IVF totally immoral

The article on the front page of the Sunday Star Times is horrendous. It's titled, "'Mums' fly for baby help". Only, they are not mums, they are women who want to be mums. Real mums wouldn't go through a process where a great many children are created and only a few or one are chosen to be born. The rest being presumably frozen or killed.

More and more women desperate to have babies are heading overseas to find egg donors as frustration grows at restrictive medical laws and practices in New Zealand.

In the past year about 30 couples have travelled to the San Diego Fertility Centre in the United States for egg donation, and more than 70 per cent of the women are now pregnant – almost double the success rate at home. Others have travelled to countries such as Spain and Argentina.

The women and their doctors say "fertility tourism" is the only choice for some couples, because potential New Zealand donors are not encouraged to offer their eggs.

It's not the only choice. A more moral choice would be acceptance of the fact they cannot have children. That trying to beat nature is morally wrong. Not only for the children created, but for the donors as well.

"It is a bigger deal than donating sperm," said Mary Birdsall, medical director of Fertility Associates in Auckland. "We don't want to take eggs until women are older and have completed their own families, just in case."

Risks of egg donation include ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, bleeding or, more rarely, infection at the time of egg collection, which can result in infertility – a reason younger women are cautious about donating.

In the US however, women in their early 20s can earn up to US$10,000 for their eggs. "Lots of young women are putting themselves through university by donating eggs," Birdsall said. "The donor websites feel a little like a Miss America pageant."

Ten thousand dollars for a young woman would be a huge temptation. I wouldn't call getting money for your eggs, "earning". More like giving up something that should be not be sold.

Fertility counsellor Joi Ellis said it was important to consider how the child might feel about that lack of connection. Parents also needed to consider what it would be like to raise a child when they didn't know their full genetic history. "It's a significant loss for a woman to give up the idea that those children will have arisen from the use of her eggs. There is usually considerable grief attached to that."

Um, yeah. But this isn't about the children, it's about the adults.

Related link: 'Mums' fly for baby help ~ Stuff

29 comment(s):

Andrei said...

Yes - this whole thing should make everybody extremely squeamish.

The SST tries to evade the enormous ethical issues of course.

My take is here: The life cycle of the human being

Psycho Milt said...

A more moral choice would be acceptance of the fact they cannot have children. That trying to beat nature is morally wrong.

Civilisation largely consists of trying to beat nature. For example, I beat nature every day by injecting synthetic insulin rather than making the "more moral choice" of accepting the fact I can't produce insulin and settling down to await a lingering death.

There are good reasons to be dubious about IVF practices, but that isn't one of them.

Lucia Maria said...


The creation of human life is quite alot different from your insulin needs. If the shots required an unborn baby's cells, then some sort of comparison might be made.

Psycho Milt said...

Sure. Having something against it because it involves trashing embryos, fine. Having something against it because we should just accept it when nature deals us a shit hand, not so much.

Andrei said...

Milt only very occasionally is this resorted to because nature deals us a shit hand.

The most common reason is because child rearing has been delayed too long, often coupled with earlier sexual hedonism and the ravages that causes to the reproductive function.

And in some cases it is the utter abomination of two males wanting to create a baby.

Muerk said...


I'm diabetic too, and yes, I'm all for beating nature to improve our quality of life. I just think that personhood begins at conception (because it's inherent in our species) and thus medical procedures that create embryos and store and destroy them are wrong.

Ideally people deserve to be created by the loving sexual act of their mother and father.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't seen this already, it is an Australian 60 Minutes documentary on IVF and its 'Dirty Little Secret'

A chemical is injected into the heart of the 'Surplus' babies that are conceived - killing them instantly.

Justin said...

What appalling hate-filled arrogance you have written. I am an IVF child, raised by Christian parents with love. I despair at the sanctimonious bile you spew in the name of God.

I.M Fletcher said...

Justin, no one is suggesting that the babies that result from IVF are somehow bad or unloved.

It's the embryoes of unborn brothers or sisters that aren't used and are discarded or frozen where the moral question arises.

Justin said...

Read the headline: "IVF totally immoral". So how does that make me feel, as one so conceived? Spawn of Satan? I generally give LM some credit for thinking through her views and at least trying to express them tactfully. But I now see her as one of those mad fundies whose arrogance and patronising views are no more than hatred. This is not how the God I was brought up to worship, thinks.

LiberalLeftie said...

Pity then that the other "embryos" that are discarded aren't actually people, merely a collection of divided cells, nothing more nothing less

Monique Watson said...

Technology is a great thing. I m so glad that these Mums are able to have children, just as I am glad of formula for Mums who cannot breastfeed and c-sections for women like myself who can't have babies "naturally".
There's nothing natural about having children these days, we have evolved well past that point.

Monique Watson said...

Embryos aren't discarded, I didn't think. They're atill on ice until the laws are rehashed.

Schteve said...

I too am an IVF child and am shocked at the suggestion that my parents are immoral and that they were possibly involved in "sexual hedonism" in their past.

Both are christian, both didn't have sex before marriage and not a drop of liquor (apart from religous purposes) have touched their lips.

Not only that, you are tarring loving "gay" parents as being abominable. I live on a street with 2 sets of gay parents and they are the most loving and generous parents I have ever seen. They send their kids to the local christian school where I went and they themselves live their lives in a way that many of us aspire to. Around the corner from where I live there are massive estates where parents neglect their kids, don't even give them breakfast and the kids are trouble makers. I see gods love every day coming out of my neighbours and yet you consign them to being worse than the awful underclasses up the road.

People like you should be ashamed in yourselves. I am catholic and I have accepted god into my life. I am also very aware that love is found in all sorts of places and that it should be celebrated.

libertyscott said...

Again, the phrase "trying to beat nature is morally wrong" leads you down all sorts of paths that conflict not only with life, but also the teachings you profess.

Gay people can argue, with some evidence (particularly those with differing hormone levels), that their orientation is natural. Sexual intercourse with a post-pubescent underage girl who one is married to is "natural" and has long been sanctified by some (13 being age of consent in Mississippi until the late 1990s).

The story of the success of humanity is based on using the mind to sustain, survive and raise offspring, to evade natural disasters, predators, disease, the seasons and the like.

There is an argument around embryos sustained outside the body, and what legal status they should have, and rights (if any). However, until fertilisation you should have no argument, since most eggs and virtually all sperm never perform a reproductive function.

Lucia Maria said...


That whole "trying to beat nature" comment should really have been "Trying to beat nature to bear children through IVF."

Schteve and Justin,

IVF being immoral is not just my own opinion, it's also the position of the Catholic Church.

You might want to read these two articles : In Vitro Fertilization: Ethical Implications and Alternatives and What's wrong with In Vetro fertilization - IVF?

From the first article:

The "Catechism of the Catholic Church," quoting from the Vatican document Donum Vitae, (Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation) asserts: "Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus) are gravely immoral. These techniques infringe on the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him, and bound to each other by marriage; moreover, these methods betray the spouses' right to become a father and a mother only through each other" (#2376). Indeed, in the act of procreation the spouses are called to cooperate with God; therefore, the Church teaches that a child's coming-to-be should be sought only as a fruit of the spouses' personal loving union in the marital act.

The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" also addresses those cases where the techniques employed to bring about the conception involve exclusively the married couple's semen, ovum, and womb. Such techniques are "less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable." They dissociate procreation from the sexual act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons (husband and wife) give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of the doctors and biologists, and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children" (#2377).

And from the second article, his quick answer to what is wrong with IVF:

* Every biologist agrees that life begins at conception
* 99% of human beings who are conceived using IVF die.
* IVF turns human beings into a commodity.
* IVF fosters a mind set that every couple has the "right" to have a baby rather than the privilege granted by God
* IVF babies form the distribution stream for stem cell research which experiments on them and kills them.
* Every IVF doctor is an abortionist, they abort babies by sticking a needle into their heart tissue, and abort them because too many children are implanted. This is called reduction.
* IVF babies are being screened and selected based on sex, and other characteristics: this is Eugenics (designer babies).
* IVF objectifies the humanity of the children.
* IVF is being used as the basis for cloning.
* Many babies are frozen and later thawed, which has a survival rate lower than the slave ships that brought black slaves to America and England from Africa.
* IVF separates the "procreative" and "unitive" aspects of a sexual relationship, resulting in a spiral of personal and social problems.
* IVF violates the dignity of the children, often means missing parents.

ZenTiger said...

I've had the advantage of face to face conversation with Lucia, and realise that her blanket statement about being morally wrong to beat nature was not meant in the way it reads.

It's obvious that it is a good thing to beat nature in many situations - boiling water to kill bacteria, wearing clothes to protect from the cold and so on.

The point was to consider the moral aspect of some of our battles to beat natural things like the effects of age. In the story above, it relies on convincing a young person to sell her eggs to an IVF buyer. That then generates a whole pile of downstream implications that are worth considering rather than simply assuming it is a simple commercial transaction.

Let's try a different example - there was a story recently of a young man selling his kidney. He bought an iPad with the money. A simple commercial transaaction. But that young man may not have fully comprehended the conseuqences - believing it wouldn't affect the quality of his life, the chance of post operation complications, etc. He made what was likely a poor decision, exploited by the buyer who cared not for the consequences to this person.

If we were discussing that situation, I doubt people would be as inflamed as they are on other blogs if Lucia expressed an opinion on the immorality behind that transaction, which all started from some-one, somewhere, needing a kidney to beat nature.

When a relative freely gives up a kindey, that is an entirely different situation with regard to morality as when some-one is convinced to sell a kidney.

The IVF situation is more complex than that, but one step at a time.

ZenTiger said...

@Justin - you should not feel diminished. On this blog we argue that the child of a rape is a person deserving of life. Many in the liberal camp are quite insistent that the child should be terminated, and the whole sorry immoral act that instigated the pregnancy washed away as if it, and the consequences never happened. But another person's life is not the price to pay to "cleanse" such a crime, and you'll find that belief promoted here means your life is valued here too.

enjiner said...

@ZenTiger: That example does clarify the point. However, I still don't think, to continue the example, donating a kidney for money is "totally immoral". There is an important issue here about the ethics of donation and ensuring people recognise the consequences, but as a Christian I don't see this as a clear black and white issue. The kind of rhetoric that was used in the original post just seems extreme and unhelpful.

I do agree that destroying fertilised eggs is wrong - I'm strongly anti-abortion. However, to jump from that to "All IVF is immoral" is a poor argument. I've read some very interesting articles from Christians who've undergone IVF and specifically chosen options to avoid that exact occurrence. When you take that argument away, the actual ethics become much more ambiguous, and I'd certainly argue against it being 'immoral'.

ZenTiger said...

I agree - issues are hardly ever black and white, there are always nuances and complications subtle enough to confuse the situation.

Just like this post cannot be interpreted purely as "wrong" in the way it has been jumped on by some in the blogosphere (because people don't get irony). But at least making strong statements certainly gets discussions going!

The post started as a quick commentary on the SST story that discussed women buying and selling human eggs.

It's progressed to some self professed liberals showing spectacular intolerance for different opinions.

I'm not able to contribute much to this conversation though, other than a couple of quick observations, because (a) I don't have much blogging time and (b) I don't know much about this whole area so haven't formed any opinions on it, aside from noting there are still lots of babies that need adoption before we get carried away with buying eggs - although I recognise that human nature being what it is, the weighting adoption gets to other processes is always going to be variable.

Schteve said...

You still didn't address anything I said. You have decided to label people for the sake of how you have interpreted the words of christ.

Think of all the thousands/millions of those who are living a normal life thanks to IVF. Many christian. Many even as militantly christian as you are. What gives?

ZenTiger said...

I think you might be making a big leap when speaking of all IVF cases.

IVF can be done on a womens own eggs, using her husband's sperm, to get around issues like sperm quality (not able to penetrate the egg without assistance) or maybe an issue with the fallopian tubes.

The post Lucia specifically addressed (yes, agreed, with sweeping statements) was about a young women selling her eggs.

ZenTiger said...

Although, just to get complicated - the issues around destrying fertilised embryos and the practice of "selective culling" of viable foetus when multiples occur kick into play.

There was an interesting case of some-one hiring an "incubator" to have their child, but when they discovered it was twins, wanted one of them terminated (they only ordered one child, not two) and the "mother" was understandably upset at having one of the lives growing inside her terminated.

As a property transaction, surely, it would have been sensible to wait until the twins were both born, and then kill one? But then, the morality of the situation gets a little harder to navigate.

Schteve said...

I didn't say I was speaking on behalf of all IVF cases. The sweeping generalisation and the heading "IVF totally immoral" made perfectly clear what goes on in the mind of Lucia Maria. It doesn't at all sound like christian love whatsoever.

As a Catholic, from quite a conservative background, I accept that we are not perfect. However we have managed to be fortunate enough to have science to allow us to achieve where we may not have been able to achieve. As this blog makes a massive deal about marriage being about little other than procreation, I'd have thought any possible way to allow parents to bring life to the world would be readily accepted by LM and not another part of her latest rants against those in society that she rails against.
I have only just started reading this blog recently and it's all about the "undesirables" and how people like LM labels them as such. My church and my christian and non christian friends have always taught me love, acceptance and humility - and yet it's anything but that here. Who on earth allowed her or any of you to judge another human being?

Ciaron said...


As one who has been reading this blog and it's predecessor for about 5 years, I can say with some certainty that your perception on the range of views expressed here is very limited. I credit LM and Zen for sewing the seed of Christ that is now growing in me, and I testify to her love in Christ through all the gudance she has rendered to me.

Justin said...

Yes it's all very well, Zen Tiger, to say that LM made sweeping and perhaps overstated comments - but have we seen an apology from her? A retraction? A clarification? An explanation? No - a deafening silence to be construed by those like Schteve and me as a clear view that we are second-class; born of sin and condemned forever to a life of apartheid. Can you imagine how that makes us feel? I regard LM as having as much christian charity and love as a heathen. Her intital comments, her refusal to offer an apology and her tasteless continuation of posting on this issue is despicible. She has much soul searching to do, and peace to make with her God.

Lucia Maria said...

Hi Justin,

I've been very busy and distracted over the last couple of days and so haven't been able to pay much attention to this post. Have a look at my latest post, it will hopefully clarify a few things.

Unfortunately, I just don't have the time right now to spend going through all the comments here to pick out all the important details and address them.

So, if there's anything missing, that's why.

Lucia Maria said...

Ciaron, thanks for what you said!

ZenTiger said...

Justin, the fact that you construe what Lucia says about IVF as meaning you are "second-class; born of sin and condemned forever to a life of apartheid." I would suggest is an incorrect assumption to make.

To use a generic phrase that isn't quite applicable in this situation, but hopefully you'll get the idea without reading the literal words - you need to seperate out the sin from the sinner (and we are all sinners on some matter) and understand that we are all called to love one and other.

Love is about forgiveness and acceptance of a person, but doesn't necessarily extend to endorsement or encouragement of certain actions. Respect for that point should go both ways, not one way.

I consider adultery a sin, and many people who have been adulterous might be offended whenever I air that opinion, but it wouldn't change the way I treat them, and I don't judge them even if I judge the deed. That distinction is often difficult to understand - but does that mean I cannot express that opinion as a general opinion? In my mind the implication that I'd then treat people that have committed adultery as a second class citizen is more of an issue with the person making that assumption, not me.

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