in Vitro Fertilization: A Question of Ethical and Spiritual Morality
In vitro fertilization is a common reproductive procedure that generally falls under the scope of biotechnology.
It is a process that is condemned by the Catholic church and often criticized by lawyers and ethicist despite the number of live births that result from the procedure
Despite this condemnation, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals that partake in IVF procedures every year, in the hope of bringing 'new life' into the world. Even members of spiritual communities have gone against tradition and the recommendation of church elders to participate in IVF. The increase in use and potential for abuse is alarming.
I will argue in this paper that in vitro fertilization is morally wrong because it results in the meaningless reproduction and may potentially result in the misuse or abuse of life and even death. I will support this thesis by arguing that in vitro fertilization allows man to overstep his authority over creation, that is opens the door to temptation and morally objectionable practices, and that it increases the potential for needless destruction of life.
Man and Authority
The process of in vitro fertilization allows man to overstep his authority over creation. The gift of life should be one that God gives, one that is sacred and spiritual in nature and one that does not involve the hand of man. This is the law of divine nature. Man was not originally created from technical processes in the past, nor should he be crated from technical or artificial means in the future. Doing so deprives man of the spirituality and wholeness of the process that is creation, and instead turns the gift of life into something that is meaningless.
From a moral perspective, the interference and interventions that must occur for man to produce life on earth interferes with the natural process of procreation as God intended. Man was created from God in his likeness with a soul, spirit and nature that is distinctly humanistic and well intentioned. Man was not created for the purpose of experimentation, personal pleasure or research. When one takes the power of creation into his own hands however, they do just this, create life for purposes other than what was originally intended. The ability to create life allows creation based on fancy, whim and for technical rather than strictly humanistic reasons, which is not an ethically sound or justifiable process.
Technological and biological advances have allowed man to have at his disposal the power of creation, but for the most part this power involves unforeseen consequences.
One simply can't predict the true harm that can be done by creating man from a Petri dish.
The act of artificial insemination also devalues the gift of life and supposes that man is an expert over humanity and spirituality. It requires that artificial and unspiritual means are utilized to obtain the primary components of creation, sperm and egg. It allows creation where perhaps creation was not intended, possibly for good reason, and supposes that man knows more than natural law or divine power.
Divine law dictates that God created man in his own image and likeness. Many use arguments in the bible to support the practice of in vitro fertilization. They claim that in vitro fertilization is one that God delivered to man as a power on earth. They further support this claim by stating that the bible supports in vitro. In Genesis the statement is made that "male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27)
and entrusted them the task of "having dominion over the earth (Gen:1:28)
. Some have interpreted this to mean that man can be dominant over everything and even creation.
However one must not abuse the scripture and interpret it in a manner that allows abuse of power and corruption, which is exactly what in vitro has the potential to do. Man is obligated to have rule over his dominion only in a manner that is humanistic and morally righteous. If one uses the argument of divine law, they must also accept and acknowledge the notion that life is a gift, one that can be bestowed and offered only by God himself.
Science and technology have in essence developed as a resource allowing the continued existence of man and the existence of human progress. Living in this technologically advanced environment man is obligated under divine law to act in a manner that is human, just and righteous. It is only possible for man to remain human and achieve self-realization if he acknowledges his true nature, moral obligation and acknowledges the spiritual soul.
Man is not simply "comprised of tissues and organs" but rather also consists of a spiritual and emotional nature that creates a unique personality, dignity and identity
Religious moralists support the notion that in vitro fertilization is an act that is similar to 'playing God.
" Lee M. Silver a biology professor at Princeton University suggests that in vitro fertilization marks "the dawn of a new age -- the point in history when human beings gained the power to seize control of their own evolutionary destiny.
" From a spiritual perspective, this goes against everything in the scripture.
In Vitro and Temptation
In vitro is morally objectionable because the process itself exposes man to temptations to accomplish immoral acts including bioengineering, and allows man to "override the natural law of nature" by taking into his own hands what should be in the hands of destiny
In a practical manner, one may interpret Silver's argument as saying that in vitro fertilization basically allows us to determine the future of our species. It allows us to create life from a scientific method, in a Petri dish, in a manner that is technical in nature rather than one that is spiritual. By this very act alone the process of in vitro is morally objectionable. The creation of human life is not something that should be determined in a laboratory. This takes away the miracle that is creation and turns it into an inhuman and morally objectionable practice. A process that is miraculous by nature becomes one that is scientific with the potential for abuse.
The use of in vitro fertilization has opened the door to many potentially destructive possibilities including genetic testing, engineering, cloning and more. All of these issues are morally objectionable, particularly issues involving genetic engineering and cloning.
The simple idea of genetic engineering and cloning suggests that human life is dispensable, subject to the whimsies and personal preferences of individuals at any given time. The process of bioengineering allows man to determine what life should and should not be created. It allows personal and subjective opinion to dictate what life is brought into the earth and what life is not. It would be impossible to establish a uniform and morally acceptable system of rules and regulations that could determine in what instances it would be ok vs. not ok to create life. Yet IVF by its very nature suggests that man has the power to do this.
Another reason that the practice is objectionable is it simply allows man too much power. It allows man who is by nature only human, the ability to determine what life is valuable, and to use that life for personal benefit rather than for the purpose it might have been intended.
In theory in vitro fertilization allows other morally objectionable practices including the possibility for a "woman some day to use a frozen embryo to give birth to a child that is genetically a relative (her great aunt or uncle)"
. It also allows the potential to collect sperm donations from people that are comatose or dead a practice "that ethicists liken to rape.
" The temptation to create life and subsequently abuse it is far too great when one considers the opportunities technology has presented.
Recently it was reported that a "widow actually gave birth to a child using sperm from her deceased husband," after which she sued for death benefits from Social Security Administration
. Stories such as this are not uncommon. This violates the very core of ethical reasoning and judgment. One can't decide what is right for a soul once it is deceased, but in vitro fertilization has allowed man to do just this. In the example given above the widow used in vitro to produce life from a human that had passed, and then proceeded to use the life created for personal benefit, further demonstrating the enormous potential for abuse that in vitro fertilization may result in.
There are even more stories in the news that suggest that man is tempted more and more with more uses for in vitro. Some have talked of using embryos to clone themselves so that they have a companion. In vitro is now a consideration for creation of embryos to use for stem cell research, another morally and ethically questionable practice. As technology continues to advance, it is only more likely that man will…