IVF Baby Has Baby: Firsts Have Enormous Significance For Human Personhood

Judie Brown
August 11, 2010
Reproduced with Permission

It was interesting to read Elizabeth Comeau's Boston Globe article about her new baby and her own notoriety as the first baby born in the United States as a result of in vitro fertilization. The very fact that she wrote about her son helps put the good and the bad of IVF into the proper perspective.

We know that, according to Catholic teaching, IVF is defined as deserving of a "negative moral judgment." The reason why the PROCESS is defined as such is this:

The desire to have a child and the love between spouses who long to obviate a sterility which cannot be overcome in any other way constitute understandable motivations; but subjectively good intentions do not render heterologous artificial fertilization conformable to the objective and inalienable properties of marriage or respectful of the rights of the child and of the spouses.

However the Church has not stated, nor would it ever state, that the preborn child resulting from the IVF process is immoral or, for that matter, any less a human person than any other human being conceived through God's design.

Elizabeth Comeau's humanity was never questioned and now we can appreciate, from her own words, the excitement of her own personal journey and desire to bear a child within the context of the natural means available to married couples through conjugal relations. In fact, as she writes, despite her "abnormal childhood," she had a normal pregnancy. She wrote that she hopes this proves once and for all that she is, indeed, like everyone else.

And yes, it does. Her existence also proves that a human being begins at the time of her biological beginning. Elizabeth did not begin in her mother's fallopian tube but rather in a petri dish through the artificial uniting of her dad's sperm and her mom's egg. Elizabeth is living testimony to the reason why we strive to achieve equal rights and human rights for every human being regardless of their biological beginning.

Sadly, though, Elizabeth goes off track because, and this is indeed a natural reaction, she is hoping to help infertile couples deal with their problem by seeking IVF or some other technological process for the purpose of bearing a child. She tells the reader that "People who have fertility issues deserve to know they can have healthy, normal babies."

True, but such people also need to know that many children whose lives began as Elizabeth's did die prior to being moved to the waiting mother's womb because they have to go through quality control testing. Some of those babies are killed, others are submitted to research labs where they are killed, and still others live a life of suspended animation in a tank somewhere frozen in time.

Elizabeth has not told her readers about the gruesome side of IVF. Perhaps she is not even aware.

Furthermore, Elizabeth did not mention that there are ethical ways to deal with infertility that do not involve killing the preborn. NaProTechnology is the most famous of these processes, and the results have been incredible!

It is for these reasons that the Catholic Church clarifies that no couple has a right to a child, but every child has a right to be brought into the world according to God's plan.

We know that it takes faith in God and total surrender to His will for a couple facing the agonies that Elizabeth's parents confronted to accept that it may not be His will for them to bear a child. Elizabeth's parents experienced three ectopic pregnancies, each of which could have been life-threatening to Elizabeth's mother.

But the fact remains that the sordid side of IVF must be exposed - even when told by the living result of a successful IVF procedure - if one is to treat the topic fairly.

As we at American Life League work toward the day when human personhood is recognized in law and in the culture, we realize that our position on IVF is unpopular, and may even be viewed as heartless. But then again, those who kill the preborn prior to implantation and those who do so with chemicals or surgical instruments after implantation are currently not held accountable for their murderous deeds. We must speak for the preborn.

Establishing human personhood will end the lies, the cruelty and the processes that result in killing human beings who have every right to live. In the meantime, we will insist that, when celebrating something like the positive outcome of an IVF procedure, we recognize the deadly aspect as well and strive to encourage infertile couples to surrender their lives to God and seek ethical ways to have a family.