Buying Happiness

The Church insists that human beings don’t reproduce but procreate

A lesbian couple in Texas has become the first such couple to give birth to a baby that they both carried.  Using a technique dubbed Reciprocal Effortless IVF, one of the women had several of her eggs fertilized while she acted as an incubator using a device called INVOCell.  After five days the device was removed and the children were frozen until the second woman was ready to carry one of them.  The child was implanted in the second woman and was born in May.  Now, they are telling the world of their success and other same-sex couples are approaching the clinic where the procedure was done to do likewise.  We might be tempted to marvel at this technological advance that only Aldous Huxley could have imagined less than 100 years ago. We should instead be mortified as our culture slips to new moral lows.

First we must admit that structuring a culture around the “right to choose” has implications for more than just abortion on demand.  The “right to choose” presupposes that one has a right to decide if, when, and how one is going to have a child.  If a woman has an absolute right to choose not to have a child, even if that child is already conceived, then she likewise must also have the absolute right to have a child. Abortion and IVF are two sides of the same coin.  What this means practically is that if someone has a right to have a child, then the medical community has a duty to make that happen.  This, at least, is the logic expressed by the doctor who performed the procedure, Dr. Kathy Doody, who said “it is a doctor’s duty to find more ways to provide IVF care to patients” and that Reciprocal Effortless IVF “is a great opportunity for some same-sex couples.”

I say it is a new moral low not because it involves a same-sex couple but because of the ruse that IVF is a compassionate solution for couples who struggle with infertility.  It is now clear that such technology is governed not by compassion but by the law of supply and demand.  A consumer base of same-sex couples has been identified and the market has offered them a service.

The service is presented as a mere technique, but in truth they are selling children.  Since the ruse is finally up, we should call it what it really is: human trafficking.  Children are being sold so that would-be parents can exercise their “right” to own a child.  Meanwhile, other children, like the two siblings that were “incubated” with this child, are held captive indefinitely in a freezer.  They are treated as products owned by their parents.

Children are not objects to be bought and sold, and they are not objects of ownership.  They are persons who have inherent dignity which includes not only the right to be treated like persons from the moment of conception but also the right to “be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of parents” (Donum Vitae, II, B, 8).

This is why the Church insists that human beings don’t reproduce but procreate.  Procreation is a personal act.  “Pro-create” literally means to create for.  This means that the spouses create for God, in that it is God who gives life while the spouses transmit it.  Children are a gift and the moment they cease to be seen as such, people begin to appropriate them, using all the technological power at hand.  This couple may have pulled a biological sleight of hand, but it is the child who will suffer.  If children of divorce suffer existential crises in wondering whether they really came from love, then such a child will likewise suffer knowing he was made in a laboratory.  He will see his existence as random, knowing that his siblings could just as easily have been chosen.  Likewise it is nearly impossible for the parents, knowing the high cost of purchasing their child, not to treat him as a possession even after he is born.

When asked by ABC News to describe their experience, like most new parents they said “priceless.”  But unlike most new parents there actually was a price.  The fact that we, as a society, celebrate this shows just how deeply the tentacles of the culture of death have reached into our hearts.


Rob holds an MA in Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, with a concentration in moral theology. He has a passion for spreading the joy of the Catholic Faith through teaching and writing.

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