August 17, 2011 (HLIAmerica.org) – The directions on my flower seed packet say, “Sow seeds directly into the soil. When plants are two inches tall, thin to six inches apart.”

Sowing more than you need and culling the excess once seeds have germinated is a great approach to gardening. But it is a horrific way to approach pregnancy and childbirth. Yet that is exactly what happens in more and more pregnancies achieved by in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The New York Times ran an article recently chronicling the growing trend for women to “reduce” their multiple gestation pregnancies to a single fetus. Under ultrasound guidance, the physician inserts a needle directly into the chest of the unwanted child and injects potassium chloride, the same drug used for prison executions by lethal injection. This stops the heart and the child dies. The corpse is broken down by the mother’s immune system and is reabsorbed.

What prompts a mother to consent to this barbaric procedure? The best answer to this question comes from Jenny, one of the women highlighted in the Times article:

If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.

As Jenny instinctively knows, with IVF, the dignity of the fully human embryo is demeaned. Replacement of the marital act by a laboratory procedure leads to the treatment of the embryo as a manufactured commodity that can be discarded if found to be “defective” or if the “consumer” has a change of heart and no longer wants him. The Catholic Church is very clear that in vitro fertilization is immoral for the very reason that Jenny describes. Dignitas Personae (no. 16) states:

The Church moreover holds that it is ethically unacceptable to dissociate procreation from the integrally personal context of the conjugal act:  human procreation is a personal act of a husband and wife, which is not capable of substitution. The blithe acceptance of the enormous number of abortions involved in the process of in vitro fertilization vividly illustrates how the replacement of the conjugal act by a technical procedure – in addition to being in contradiction with the respect that is due to procreation as something that cannot be reduced to mere reproduction – leads to a weakening of the respect owed to every human being. Recognition of such respect is, on the other hand, promoted by the intimacy of husband and wife nourished by married love.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2009 more than 60, 000 infants were born using some form of IVF. That is roughly 1% of all births in the United States. Obviously, there is a huge demand for IVF services. But is there a moral alternative?

NaPro TECHNOLOGY offers hope to many couples who have been unable to conceive a child yet want to stay faithful to Church teachings. This approach to infertility understands that the inability to conceive is a symptom of an underlying disorder, and not the disorder itself.

NaPro TECHNOLOGY promotes five goals:

1. It works towards assessing the underlying causes of the reproductive abnormality.
2. It allows for the treatment of these underlying causes.
3. It assists the couple in achieving pregnancy while maintaining the natural acts of procreation.
4. If the treatment program is unsuccessful, research into the unknown causes is undertaken.
5. If medically unsuccessful, the program will assist with successful family building by being supportive of adoption.

Research by the Pope Paul VI institute in 2004 showed that women who suffer from an ovulatory infertility, polycystic ovarian disease, endometriosis, or tubal occlusion have statistically significantly higher pregnancy rates using NaPro TECHNOLOGY than patients with similar conditions treated with in vitro fertilization.

So why aren’t more fertility centers turning to NaPro TECHNOLOGY instead of in vitro fertilization? Taking the time to thoroughly investigate the underlying disorder is a time consuming process. Potential parents are impatient. Fertility centers have happier “customers” if they get them pregnant quickly, or at least if they appear to be moving “aggressively” to achieve pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is also a very lucrative business.

While the cost of IVF can vary based on geographical location, the average cost is $13,000 per cycle. It is common for couples to require more than one cycle to achieve a pregnancy. There is a great financial incentive for fertility specialists to use IVF as a first line solution to infertility.

A moral resolution to the heartbreak of infertility also requires an understanding of the vocational nature of parenthood. Marriage is a calling by God just as a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is a calling. Some, but not all, who are called to marriage will be given the opportunity to be a biological parent.  God never asks us to do something immoral to fulfill our vocation; so if the only way to achieve pregnancy is through an immoral reproductive technology, then our marital vocation does not include biological parenthood. That is why the fifth goal of NaPro TECHNOLOGY is to be supportive of adoption.

A couple may not be called to give birth to a child, but they may still be called to be parents. God’s plan is always far superior to anything we could devise for ourselves. We just need to trust Him.

Reprinted with permission from HLI America


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