Tinkering with the Lives of Children

Judie Brown
July 1, 2011
Reproduced with Permission

There are many Americans who define themselves as human rights advocates yet who are, at the same time, wary of those of us who take great care when defining the meaning of human personhood. We are suspected of being over-zealous because we point out the killing of preborn embryonic children in IVF labs or the deaths caused by chemical birth control in addition to exposing the heinous acts of medical and surgical abortion.

We are obliged to affirm the reasons why the law must recognize human rights for every individual from its biological beginning, and that is why we are such a threat to the status quo.

But from what I have read in the headlines lately, I would have to say that our efforts are really quite noble and should be examined in the light of truth instead of what is or is not politically pragmatic at the moment.

For example, look at the lives of two nineteen-year-old conjoined identical twins who are attached at the skull. The story of Stefan and Tyler Delp is nothing short of fantastic. The boys' parents were encouraged to abort the boys but, despite their fears, they wanted to give their children the gift of life. Killing them was something neither parent could even imagine doing. As a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer writes,

The prospective parents struggled through the next three weeks, putting their marriage to the test. "I was extremely nervous," Delp said, "and our lives were a whirlwind as we tried to figure it out. We asked: 'Why me? Why us? What did we do?' I couldn't get my arms around the whole concept and I thought maybe we shouldn't have these children." For his wife, there was never any doubt. "I couldn't kill a fly," she said, "let alone think about aborting a child. If my babies were going to die, it was going to be in my arms."

Today, even though the twins face many challenges, they are accomplished musicians and very bright students. But most of all, they are a delight to their parents, who couldn't imagine life without them.

Tyler and Stefan are a perfect example of asexual reproduction. These boys are identical twins and therefore asexual reproduction came into play in the creation of one of these twins. The first human embryo grows and, at a certain point very early in this growth, some of the cells break off from the inner cell mass and those cells generate another embryo with a distinct development track of his own.

As Professor Dianne Irving, Professor C. Ward Kischer and the Carnegie Stages of Human Development - stages 2 through 5 - concur, it is because of these individuals who are not created sexually through fertilization that we must be accurate in the language we use to defend the human rights of every human being.

Tinkering with the language regarding the beginning of a human being can be deadly for some of them. The same sort of care is required in discussions about in vitro fertilization (IVF) - a scientific practice that places man in the position of a god, as it is the scientist who chooses who lives, who dies, and whose stem cells are needed more than the living human embryo is needed. It's a ghoulish business, which is why reproductive endocrinologist Anthony Caruso finally admitted that what he was doing was wrong and ended his IVF practice. EWTN news reported that Caruso was horrified when he realized that he had wronged people by his practice of IVF. "When I realized what I was doing, I was absolutely horrified," he told EWTN News. "I was so upset that I had led so many couples down a road that was wrong."

Stephen Napier of the Catholic Bioethics Center says of IVF: "[P]ractices like selective abortion and mass embryo transfers show profound disrespect, and ultimately disregard, for human life."

"If you think it's permissible to conceive a human life in a glass dish and freeze a human life, you aren't going to think it's a far stretch to go ahead and destroy that human life," said Napier. "The immorality of IVF piggybacks on the immorality of abortion."

Whether talking about IVF, asexual reproduction, or abortive birth control chemicals, tinkering with the lives of children is wrong. Scientists, doctors, and ethicists must join together to affirm life, affirm human rights, and stop discussing ways to kill or manipulate the human person.