In Vitro Fertilization

.. is question and its ramification we will look at the viewpoints of some writers, both within and outside the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition, and try to determine whether or not basic notions of humanity are threatened by the artificiality which some have claimed is involved in the process. One argument against IVF is presented by the Roman Catholic Church using natural law as the basis for their argument. The theory of natural law is widely taken to mean that God has visibly set forth Gods laws in nature and humans should obey them (Dyson 52). The primary feature of IVF that comes under scrutiny from natural law is undoubtedly concerned with IVF as “external” fertilization.

This is to say, the primary accusation coming from natural law focuses on the fact that in IVF, fertilization occurs in vitro in a glass dish, rather than in vivo, namely in the womans body. A second feature of IVF that is challenged by natural law is the use of masturbation by the husband or donor to provide the sperm without which the external fertilization cannot go ahead (Dyson 53). A rebuttal against this is presented by Fletcher, in which he has proposed a personal instead of a biological interpretation [of the natural law theory], so that the “nature” to be respected becomes not the reproductive process but “what is worthy of a human being”-freedom, planning, control of physical nature to serve human nature! ..Mans vocation is actually to frustrate nature as do medicine and technology, if rational needs and purposes require it (Fletcher 323). Another argument that many use to defend IVF, and also abortion, is that the embryo is not actually a human being but instead just a mass of cells with the potential to become a child, therefore not worthy of respect or careful treatment as that which would be awarded to a baby. Walters, however, argues that the embryo is actually living: it metabolizes, respires, responds to changes in the environment, grows, and divides (Kass 32-60).

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It is actually human; it pertains to the species homo sapiens. It is inappropriate, therefore, to refer to it as “potential human life.” We could, however, say it is potentially a mature human being (Walters 51). Walters continues this argument using the reasoning of Paul Ramsey. The human individual comes into existence first as a minute informational speck.. (with the single exception of identical [multiple births]) no one else in the entire history of the human race has ever had or will ever have exactly the same genotype. Thus, it can be said that the individual is whoever he is going to become from the moment of impregnation.

Thereafter, his subsequent development may be ascribed as a process of becoming the one he already is. However, some would counter-argue that, since twinning and recombination are possible in the early days after fertilization, irreversible individuality had not been achieved at this stage. These possibilities show the uncertainty of human individuation at conception. If the uncertainty remains as long as twinning is possible, it would seem that individuality could be certainly established only at blastocyst (an embryo four to six days after fertilization). Before this period, the embryo may be considered as “only potentially a human being.” This would imply that it is worthy of respect but not the same degree of respect as accorded to a “mature” human being (Walters 53).

There are many more arguments concerning the ethicalness of in vitro fertilization, but the discussions stated above are the main points stated by the opposing sides. I do not believe one single conclusion can ever be drawn from these arguments. One can form him or her own personal opinion, but there will never be a single right or wrong answer. Based on the arguments I have read and learned about while writing this paper, I have drawn my own conclusions regarding the ethicalness of in vitro fertilization. I believe an embryo is a human being from the moment of conception and therefore its life should be treated with as much respect as a born baby should.

I believe this life is precious and a creation of God. A baby is also, or should be, the representation of two people coming together in love to create a life. It should not be done outside of the body. An argument presented in Walters book that defends this position states: Those who reject human interference at the beginning of life would most certainly do so on the basis that what nature has decreed cannot take place ought not to take place. For an infertile couple, this implies that they must remain infertile: if they cannot produce a child by the normal means of conception then they must remain childless..(89)” This is not necessarily the case and is a very narrow-minded conclusion to draw, as I will explain in the next paragraph.

I sympathize with the couples who wish to have a child that shares their genetics, but I believe God made the couple infertile for a specific reason. He made them infertile so they could have the opportunity to give an orphaned or abandoned child a home. There are thousands, maybe even millions, of children without families all over the world. These children deserve love and a home just as much as the couple deserves to have a child. As William Walters put it so clearly, “instead of insisting on the right of a couple to have a child, as some have done, let us be mindful rather of the right of a child to have parents” (Walters 78). Just because a couple cannot produce their own genetic child does not mean that they must remain childless. While many people may not agree with other conclusions I have drawn regarding the personhood of the embryo or the immorality of a couple having a child outside of intimacy, there is no disputing the fact that infertile couples have an alternative to having a child created through science.

They could make something good out of a seemingly bad thing by giving a child without a family a home, love, and a life. There is an alternative to infertility without relying on scientists, test tubes, and small chances. They can create their own miracle by giving life to an already-born deserving child. Bibliography Baier, K. “The Sanctity of Life,” Journal of Social Philosophy.

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The Ethics of IVF. Mowbrey: 1995. Fletcher, J. “Anglican Theology and the Ethics of Natural Law,” Christian Social Ethics in a Changing World: An Ecumenical Theological Inquiry. Association Press: New York, 1966. Flynn, Eileen P.

Human Fertilization In Vitro: A Catholic Moral Perspective. University Press of America: 1984. Gosden, Roger. Designing Babies. W.H. Freeman and Co.: New York, 1999.

Kass, L.R. “Making Babies Revisited,” The Public Interest. Vol. 54. 1979: 32-60.

“Infertility.” Encarta 1998. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1997. “Medical Ethics.” Editorial. The Medical Journal of Australia 11 June 1977: p. 871.

ODonovon, Oliver. Begotten or Made? Clarendon Press: 1984. Ramsey, Paul in Rachels, J. ed. Moral Problems. Harper & Row: New York, 1975.

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A Question of Life. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984.