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July 20, 2006

Comments

Les

Bush did right and I thought his comments were concise and right to the heart of the issue.

I like the fact that he didn't hedge or waffle or hum and haw. He just came right out and said it.

So I'd be inclined to give him credit for this one too.

Christopher

Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. ;-)

He of course was absolutely right to veto it. But in addition to the usual concerns, it's also blatantly unconstitutional.

Chris
http://amateureconblog.blogspot.com/

Maureen

According to St. John of the Cross, "....by blinding itself in its faculties upon this road, the soul will see the light, even as the Saviour says in the Gospel, in this wise: In judicium veni in hunc mundum: ut qui non vident, videant, et qui vident, caeci fiant. That is: 'I am come into this world for judgment; that they which see not may see, and that they which see may become blind.' This, as it will be supposed, is to be understood of this spiritual road, where the soul that is in darkness, and is blinded as regards all its natural and proper lights, will see supernaturally; and the soul that would depend upon any light of its own will become the blinder, and will halt upon the road...."

Maureen

Which apparently is to say that one should be humble like a blind squirrel, and not priding oneself on one's clever reply.

(Because I have this tendency at such times to forget to post the clever bit, just as posts with spelling and grammar corrections often contain new errors of their own....)

Dan

a question to you all: President Bush surrounded himself with "snowflake children" -- children who were adopted as embryos -- when he vetoed the bill. The Church forbids in-vitro fertilization precisely because it creates many such embryos. Am I correct in guessing that the adoption (and implantation) of such children is still allowed?

Steve Cavanaugh

Dan,

I think that the Church has not taught definitively on this topic of adopting embryos. I would liken it to adopting children conceived as the result of fornication or some other sexual sin...the manner of conception was sinful, but the life thus generated is holy and deserving of protection.

Inocencio

The Church forbids in-vitro fertilization precisely because it creates many such embryos.

The Church forbids in vitro because it denies the child the right of being conceived naturally.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
DONUM VITAE
Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation
Replies to Certain Questions of the Day
February 22, 1987

In reality, the origin of a human person is the result of an act of giving. The one conceived must be the fruit of his parents' love. He cannot be desired or conceived as the product of an intervention of medical or biological techniques; that would be equivalent to reducing him to an object of scientific technology. No one may subject the coming of a child into the world to conditions of technical efficiency which are to be evaluated according to standards of control and dominion.

The moral relevance of the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and between the goods of marriage, as well as the unity of the human being and the dignity of his origin, demand that the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses.

Am I correct in guessing that the adoption (and implantation) of such children is still allowed?

It is not "allowed" but every child is accepted as a gift of God.

Although the manner in which human conception is achieved with IVF and ET cannot be approved, every child which comes into the world must in any case be accepted as a living gift of the divine Goodness and must be brought up with love.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

francis 03

In other words, although the Church hasn't spoken definitively, given the current state of thought it's almost inconceivable (pun intended) that the Church would deem it immoral simply to implant an already-conceived embryo. What's intrinsically immoral is improperly conceiving the embryo in the first place; once the baby is there (from whatever technique) it is a precious live, to be cared for and valued.

As medical science advances I imagine that embryo adoptions could happen in situations that never involved immorality-- e.g., if a married couple conceives naturally but it's then discovered that the woman will be physically unable to carry the child. In the case of an ectopic pregnancy we could even possibly see women having their own children re-implanted in a safer spot.

Inocencio

francis 03,

"In other words, although the Church hasn't spoken definitively, given the current state of thought it's almost inconceivable (pun intended) that the Church would deem it immoral simply to implant an already-conceived embryo."

The Church has not spoken definitively, but the same document states:

3. Is "Surrogate" Motherhood Morally Licit?

No, for the same reasons which lead one to reject heterologous artificial fertilization: for it is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person.

Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Kevin Jones

Has anybody profiled the 14 house democrats who voted against the bill?

Also, isn't embryo implantation by a medical specialist essentially the impregnation of the woman by a person who is not her husband?

francis 03

Inocencio,

I acknowledge what you're saying. But we can both recognize that although the text you're quoting says its rationale is the "same reasons" that underlie the immorality of IVF, in reality it's talking in a much broader sense. The third bolded paragraph, which sums up the substance of the objections to surrogate motherhood, could also apply to wetnursing or adoption-- practices that the Church condones when the circumstances require them.

The right of the child to be "brought up by his own parents" is indisputable. But when a biological mother is unable to properly raise her child, then adoptive parents are not violating that right; rather, they are making the best out of a violation that has already occurred.

What we are talking about here, I would submit, is actually adoption, not surrogate motherhood. It just occurs a little earlier on. Donum Vitae is condemning the deliberate bearing of another's child, not adopting a child as your own and then bearing him or her (although this too would of course be immoral if the child were conceived as a result of your demand for him or her).

Anyway, at bottom I think we have to look at the options here. There are many, many frozen embryos in the world. Many women have many more embryos than they can realistically bear and raise in their lifetimes. Therefore, we can do one of three things with these embryos:

1. Leave them frozen indefinitely. This would seem to deeply offend the dignity of human life. It would also involve significant expenditures of money.

2. Allow them to thaw and die. This is also deeply disrespectful of these children's right to life, as it treads a fine line between allowing death and causing it. Additionally, if this is a morally licit route it seems difficult to justify arguments against creating stem-cell lines from such embryos-- since we are allowing (or causing) these embryos to die anyway, why not do research on their bodies afterwards?

3. Allow women who want children to adopt them, bear them, and raise them. I grant that this is not an ideal situation, but it seems a vast improvement over the alternatives. Its greatest danger is that it would become a vehicle for the buying and selling of embryos, and significant procedural safeguards would be required to prevent this. But if we are to say that this is immoral, then which other alternative do we choose?

This is why, to me at least, the Church's condeming the adoption of embryos (as opposed to surrogate motherhood) is almost inconceivable. Of course, if it happens, I'll have to change my thinking. But I just can't imagine that it will.

francis 03

francis 03

Sorry if I'm skirting the edges of Rule 3 there.

Dawn

Francis03,

I appreciate the tone of your discussion, and I'm inclined to agree, however I just thought of an objection.

What if, in attempting to "adopt" a frozen embryo, involving certain risks and (probably high) expenses, it becomes commonplace to attempt to implant SEVERAL embryos just in case some didn't take? Then we're right back to where we started with IVF and suchlike.

Susan Peterson

They do attempt to implant several in case some don't take. As far as I know, attempting to implant 3 doesn't reduce the chance of any individual egg to implant. One is attempting to give these frozen embryoes a chance at life. Some of them are not going to make it and are going to die. However the alternatives are for them to remain frozen forever or to be thawed and not implanted and certainly to die.

What would be wrong would be to attempt to implant more embryoes than could be anticpated could be safely carried to term, or more than a woman was willing to bear, with the plan to do a "selective reduction" if too many implanted.

I spoke to a woman who had IVF with an adopted embryo...a "snowflake" baby. She and her husband told the facility to prepare two eggs. When they got there, the facility had defrosted four and all looked good. The facility said that if they defrosted only two, perhaps neither would have looked healthy enough to attempt an implantation. So they defrosted four. They suggested selective reduction if all four implanted, to which this woman and her husband reacted in horror. What were they going to do? They didn't really want quadruplets...but refreezing two of the eggs would reduce their chance of surviving. They decided on the spot to have all four implanted and to attempt to carry all four to term if they made it. As it happened, only one implanted and they now have one healthy child. She told me that there are ten (or 12-can't remember for sure) other embryos donated by the same couple and that they are going to attempt to give life to as many as possible.

This does seem like a good thing to me.
Susan Peterson

Jonathan Prejean

This veto produced one of the dumbest statements I have ever heard a politician utter:

"Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat and one of the measure's sponsors, said Bush was setting himself up as a ``moral ayatollah.''

The veto is not based on constitutional or legal objections, Harkin said. ``He is vetoing it because he says he believes it is immoral,'' Harkin said. ``Mr. President, you are not our moral ayatollah, maybe the president nothing more.''"

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aI0y4iO0685k&refer=home

The perverse irony here is that Harkin has no legal or constitutional objection to the President's veto (after all, the President can veto anything he likes), but only a MORAL objection. Harkin's argument is evidently that only Harkin's moral beliefs ought to enter into the exercise of political power (as Harkin's did when he sponsored the law), but no one else's should.

It makes me wonder if these people don't WANT sheer irrationality to become the standard of political discourse, simply because they can't possibly compete in the marketplace of ideas if people actually start thinking critically.

David B.

I Thank God for G.W. Bush when he does things like this.

chris-2-4

Jonathan:

If you think that comment by Harkin is dumb, check out what Howard Dean had to say in an e-mail sent out to Democrats everywhere. (Was forwarded to me...) How they can say these things with a straight face is unclear. (emphasis below is mine)

Today George Bush chose political posturing over human life, denying hope to millions of Americans, their families and loved ones who are affected by debilitating diseases.

He used his first-ever veto to stop the discovery of new cures for diseases like juvenile diabetes, leukemia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and many others.

bill912

Chris, Did Dean end the E-mail with "Yee-ahh!"?

Jonathan Prejean

chris-2-4:
At least that foolishness has the logical virtue of asserting a specific wrong reason, rather than asserting the ridiculous generality that one cannot veto bills for "moral reasons" without becoming a "moral ayatollah," whatever that means. Dean is just delusional (he believes things about reality that just aren't so); Harkin has abandoned the idea of logic altogether. There is a possible world in which Dean's statement would be correct (not the one that happens to exist, but it's possible). Harkin is asserting a sheer contradiction in the separation of legal/constitutional versus moral.

bill912

Jonathan, Did you mean that Dean is nuts and Harkin is a liar?

chris-2-4

Jonathan:

I'm not convinced Dean's remark had any such "logical virtue". Arguing that Bush's veto was choosing "political posturing over human life" is so far remote from reality that it can not be justified.

Let's just agree that both comments were equally absurd...

chris-2-4

Bill:

He no nuts. He Crazy!

Inocencio

francis 03,

"What we are talking about here, I would submit, is actually adoption, not surrogate motherhood."

You are suggesting adoption which can only come about through surrogate motherhood and that is not morally licit.

Surrogate motherhood is not allowed even when the biological parents will raise their child.

Just because we can do something doesn't mean it is allowed.

"But what is technically possible is not for that very reason morally admissible." DV Introduction 4

And the CCC says that such techniques are gravely immoral.

"Techniques which entail the dissociation of husband and wife by the intrusion of a person other than the couple are gravely immoral. These techniques infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2376)

"But if we are to say that this is immoral, then which other alternative do we choose?"

Donum Vitae states "in consequence of the fact that they have been produced in vitro, those embryos that are not transferred into the body of the mother and are called ‘spare’ are exposed to an absurd fate, with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued" (DV 1:5)

Until the Church gives us clear guidance we have no means that can be licitly pursued.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Dean

Howard Dean is enough to make me want to change my name and Harkin is not helping the image of my home state. sigh.

Inocencio

Dawn,

"Then we're right back to where we started with IVF and suchlike."

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life has the same obection.

"The idea of a systematic organization of prenatal adoption of frozen embryos would, in fact, end up by legitimizing the practice which is substantially at the root of the whole problem" The London Tablet August 10, 1996

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Ed Pie

Innocencio:

You are suggesting adoption which can only come about through surrogate motherhood and that is not morally licit.

DV defines surrogate motherhood as carrying a child, not from the union of the surrogate and her husband, to term on the condition of surrendering the child to another party; not just on the blood relation between embryo and woman. On top of the sins of IVF, the surrogate mother is reduced to an apparatus (er, apparata?) employed by another.

I don't see how adopting a child before birth is surrogacy if giving up a child conceived out of wedlock for adoption isn't.

I'm inclined to give life the benefit of the doubt if the licitness of life-or-death choices is not defined.

The idea of a systematic organization of prenatal adoption of frozen embryos would, in fact, end up by legitimizing the practice which is substantially at the root of the whole problem

I'm on board here. Until IVF and embryonic cloning is stopped, it'll tend to be more a market in children than a question of placing a fixed number of wards of the state with good families. Which is not to say I think we shouldn't do something good on the sole grounds that it enables someone else to abuse the good.


In a speculative vein, if EA is declared licit after all, would it be equivalent to an embryonic transplant (if such a thing became possible) in the case of some strange medical complication during pregnancy? Seems like an exception for the life of the mother or of the child would be preferable to several months in some amniotic incubator. It may be a question medical ethicists will seriously consider in a few decades (if any medical ethicists are left, heh).

In Jesu et Maria,
Edify

Mary

No, for the same reasons which lead one to reject heterologous artificial fertilization: for it is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person.

The objections to surrogate motherhood are those of IVF. Logically enough, since surrogate motherhood needs to involve some form of artificial conception.

Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood;

Because the woman carries the child to term, or because she sets out to carry an artificially conceived child for money?

it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents;

With "brought up", this would be objections to post-birth adoption too, but the Vatican highly approves of adoption. Has been known to put it forth as a substitute for IVF.

It is not an offense against your dignity for someone to do the best they can to save you.

Jonathan Prejean

Let's just agree that both comments were equally absurd...

Well, OK, I think I can go along with that! ;-)

Inocencio

Ed Pie,

I don't see how adopting a child before birth is surrogacy if giving up a child conceived out of wedlock for adoption isn't.

I'm inclined to give life the benefit of the doubt if the licitness of life-or-death choices is not defined.

Mary,

It is not an offense against your dignity for someone to do the best they can to save you.

What does "with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued" mean to you?

Or CCC 2376:

"Techniques which entail the dissociation of husband and wife by the intrusion of a person other than the couple are gravely immoral. These techniques infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage"

If I have misunderstood DV or the CCC please let me know where I have gone wrong.

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

Sailorette

Inocencio-
Same document, not sure how to state location, other than it's in part one.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Church for her part presented once again to modern man her constant and certain doctrine according to which: "Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." More recently the Charter of the Rights of the Family, published by the Holy See, [23] confirmed that "Human life must be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception." [24]

I found the quote you mentioned, but I'm still looking for their reasoning. It's not right to kill folks, but sometimes you have to kill to save folks.

Part two of the same instruction says that the surrogate mother never means to keep the child, so that doesn't directly address the adoption of the kids.

Herologous artificial insemination would seem to be the logical place, but once again it's directly at couples or women who use IF to bypass natural reproduction.

Part three mentions that it should be against the law to make "extra" embryos.

Given the extreme emphasis put on the right of all to life until their death, I'd have to say it's the same situation as folks who are starving without alternative stealing food. It's wrong, but it must be done.

Ed Pie

Innocencio,

What does "with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued" mean to you?

It means to me that an uncondemned act that doesn't go against one's conscience may be considered, not that every act the Church has not yet formally approved is prohibited.

DV 1:5 is referring to "spare" embryos that would not be implanted in the mother, and would thus be killed for medical research; couples willing to adopt an embryo would hardly regard one as "spare." DV only defines and condemns two means of survival for the embryo: implantation in the mother, which is verboten when IVF is used as a substitute for the conjugal act; and surrogate motherhood, which is verboten because it utilizes IVF and the uterus of someone other than the child's mother.

You seem to be saying that EA is the same as surrogate motherhood, and therefore is equally illicit. I would agree if I thought (or if the Magisterium declared) the two were equivalent. As DV is written, I don't.

The immoral actions of IVF and surrogate motherhood that divorce the marital act from conception, husband from wife, mother from child were not performed or condoned by the hypothetical adoptive mother. They are remote from the adoption of an embryo whose most intimate rights were already infringed. In giving the embryo a mother, we are not leaving him to die nor are we compounding this sin of intimate dissociation by bringing him to term and then passing him on to yet another person.

Adopting an embryo before birth makes one complicit in IVF and womb-renting no more than adopting a walking, talking child conceived in rape makes one complicit in sexual assault. Spiritually, we're all adopted. I'd be willing to let a woman act in concord with that precedent and try to incubate a child (whose circumtances of conception are tragic but historical) whom she will raise as her own,.

Inocencio

Ed Pie,

"DV 1:5 is referring to "spare" embryos that would not be implanted in the mother, and would thus be killed for medical research; couples willing to adopt an embryo would hardly regard one as "spare."

DV 1:5 first declares that embryos created by IVF or ET cannot be used for expermintation of any kind. Then states in conclusion of that section that these embryos are left to an absurd fate with no morally licit means of survival.

In consequence of the fact that they have been produced in vitro, those embryos which are not transferred into the body of the mother and are called "spare" are exposed to an absurd fate, with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued.

DV 2:5 states "The process of IVF and ET must be judged in itself" the footnote points to HV 14 which states it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general.

When DV was written ,then Cardinal Ratzinger, was very aware of Embryo Transfer techniques such as used in "Surrogate" Motherhood and still stated in DV that there is no "safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued for these persons trapped in an "absurd fate."

Second, any woman who would adopt an embryo would become pregnant outside of the conjugal union of her husband. I don't understand how you think this is morally licit.

The end does not justify the means.

We have read the same document and completely disagree on what the text states. I hope and pray the Church will give us further guidance. Until then we cannot give in "to the temptation to go beyond the limits of a reasonable dominion over nature."DV intro 1

Take care and God bless,
Inocencio
J+M+J

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John

On the embryonic stem cell research, a few comments:

(1) I think it was morally wrong to create and freeze the embryos in the first place, and I am a bit perplexed on what should be done with them now.

(2) The federal government has no business funding this endeavor anyway. Private research could fund it. So it might be possible to agree with the president's veto even without addressing the merits of the controversy.

(3) If I am required to address the merits, the only thing I can say is that the whole procedure reeks of the "mad scientist," and gives me the creeps.

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