(This article is part of an ongoing series showing adult obsession in waging “War Against Children” by Fr. Jerry Novotny, OMI.)
It is so easy in life to lose sight of what’s most important. Our days are so busy that we often overlook problems facing our children both born and unborn. Take for example freezing unborn embryos. This is another obsession in waging war on Children. This procedure takes a living human person and actually freezes it. This freezing, also known commonly as solidification, is a phase transition where an unborn child turns into a solid when its temperature is lowered below its freezing point.
We must ask ourselves “When does human life begin?“ Are embryos human people? Are pre-born children human embryos at the beginning of pregnancy? The answer is very simple. Is the pregnant woman human? Yes. Is her partner human? Yes. It follows that the embryo in the woman’s body must be of the same species – HUMAN.
Then it is safe to say that frozen human embryos are the most weak and vulnerability of human beings. Science points out that embryos are whole human beings because the very first cell created at fertilization continues to double as it grows. The term ’embryo’, similar to the terms ‘infant’ and ‘adolescent’, refers to an organism at a particular stage of development. Generally, it’s called an embryo from conception until the eighth week of development. After the eighth week, it’s called a fetus until it’s born.
Consequently, we must ask the question, “Does the human embryo have a beginning?” Judging from remarks by the President of the United States, it appears he doesn’t have the foggiest idea due to his statement contradicting science. Recently Biden stated that he does not believe life begins at conception – going contrary to his previous statements on when life begins. In 2015 he clearly stated: “I’m prepared to accept that the moment of conception is a human life and being.”
Today Biden justifies himself by saying there are ‘rights I have, not because the government gave them to [m]e, but just because I’m a child of God, [because] I exist.’ He makes this argument to cement his right to abort unborn children of God which exist.” It’s unclear what changed his mind, but his illogical reasoning has led him to become an ultra-extremist on the abortion issue and an active outspoken supporter throughout the world. Someone should inform the president that science determines the point at which the preborn child is a human person, not religion.
Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, said Biden is flat-out wrong. “Mr President you are wrong, completely wrong, and as you continue to push this agenda you push the division in this nation to the breaking point. I pray that your hardened heart will open to the sanctity of life for the unborn child and for the mother\0x200B,”
Briefly let’s analyze the scientific explanation of embyro: that the moment that the ovum is fertilized, a life begins which is neither that of the father nor of the mother, it is rather the life of a new human being.
Dr. Dianne N. Irving, Ph.D. explains this very well in her many factual articles on life. Here is a quote taken from an article entitled: “The Moment When New Individual Human Life Begins”.
(Quote) Let’s frame the issue: in human sexual reproduction, when conception [or fertilization] occurs the continuum of life is initiated. Under circumstances which we have come to understand and embrace as “normal” all of development, indeed, all of life’s continuum, until death, is a fait accompli.
Fertilization is a process, and the new single-cell human embryo begins at the beginning of that process – with first contact of the sperm with the oocyte. There are also several other known events which rapidly occur: calcium release, cortical and subcortical reactions, cytoplasmic reactions, formation of the pronuclei, syngamy [the coming together of the chromosomes], other changes, and the final formation of the zygote. The single-cell human being throughout the entire process constitutes Stage 1 of the Carnegie Stages [continuously updated since 1942] of early human embryonic development. [http://amhm.washingtondc.museum/collections/hdac/stage1.pdf].
Most of these events during the process of fertilization have been claimed to be the beginning of human life. However, this is disingenuous. The point of initiation, that is, the moment of the beginning of the new individual human life, is first contact between the plasma membrane of the sperm and the plasma membrane of the oocyte, as documented in Carnegie Stage 1.
Very often when young pregnant mothers are shown ultrasounds of their embryo or fetus, their minds change from having an abortion to keeping the pregnancy. But, could their minds be changed if they contemplate a single celled embryo, or, for that matter, an oocyte contacted by the sperm, in their pregnancy? It is doubtful. Nascent life should be respected in its entirety, and not be compartmentalized for political reasons. (End of Quote) Check Irving’s Library at LifeIssues.net for more articles on human life. For example: When do human beings begin? – “scientific” myths and scientific facts.
Why are scientific facts ignored by so many people, especially in the various fields of clergy, law, social science, etc.? Science show us that the development of the human person from fertilization until death is an
unbroken continuum. There is no single point at which we can say “the unborn child is now a living human person, where it was not a living human person one minute ago.”
Are there ethical implications of frozen embryo transfers?
Yes, there are. Allowing the frozen embryos for example to be discarded, destroyed for research purposes, abandoned or left in the state of “suspended animation” undermines the value of human life. The only possible result of this action is the destruction of human life. The reason is that these embryos are frozen after fertilization and at this stage the embryo is a unique human individual whose life must be protected by law in the same way you and I are protected. This is a basic human right for all human beings.
The origins of extra human embryos is mostly found in IVF (in-vitro fertilization). IVF is a medical procedure where an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or elsewhere outside the body. Multiple embryos are produced in order to assure that one of them will actually reach birth. As a result, tens of thousands of frozen embryos are are stuck in limbo in fertility clinics across the world. One study estimated around 1.4 million in the U.S alone.
What is done with extra embryos which are frozen after IVF?
To begin with, a relentless, lucrative market has appeared whereby the human embryo has becomes a product (a commodity) to be obtained by another party. There are various monetary options on the market:
1) Saving extra embryos for a future transfer to building a family with more children. (However, using every embryo created isn’t an option for every family. A family may not want more children, or may be unable to have more for medical, financial, or practical reasons, resulting in unused embryos.)
(2)Embryo donation: this means that the couple who receive the embryo will not be genetically connected to either the egg or the sperm donor. Embryo donation can be very expensive. According to RESOLVE, a national infertility association, the average cost of embryo donation ranges from $2,500 to $4,000, while the average cost of an IVF cycle is $12,400.
Making extra embryos available for scientific research: life is terminated in the process since embryonic stem cells come from embryos that are 3 to 5 days old. Then they are divided into more stem cells or become any type of cell in the body.
Thawing and disposing of the human embryos by the clinic. In one area regard adoption, for every embryo that is donated to others, more than 100 embryos are thawed and discarded. In most cases, these discarded embryos are disposed of at the clinic. In some cases, discarded embryos are given over to the mother for burial. A ceremony is held to mark the passing of her human embryo.
Keeping leftover embryos frozen for a certain period of time or even indefinitely. This is definitely not free. Clinics charge fees for storage.
Is it ethical to destroy frozen embryos?
Father Tad Pacholczk, moral theologian at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, points out, “The simple answer is that ethically there is very little we can do with the frozen embryos except to keep them frozen for the foreseeable future. No other morally acceptable options seem to exist.”
Sister Mary Timothy Prokes, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, states: “Frozen embryos are among the most helpless of human beings.”
Dr. Jerome Lejeune once described the condition of these embryos as being held in “‘concentration cans.”
What does the Catholic Church say about IVF and extra embryos?
Children are not a given. They are “the supreme gift of marriage” (CCC 2378). When children are created within the confines of a Petri dish, they become a commodity.
As human beings created in the image and likeness of God, we are never to be something bought or sold. God freely gives us life, and we are to cherish that life, never profit from it or purchase it. We must never put a price on a human being, but that is exactly what IVF does. At anywhere between $14,000 to $20,000 per round of IVF, this medical procedure often sucks bank accounts dry, depletes retirement accounts, and takes advantage of desperate potential parents. And, with a success rate at only about 42% for women under 35 — and much less for older women — IVF is no guarantee or easy solution.
The Catholic Church believes that IVF is never acceptable because (1) it removes conception from the marital act and (2)because it treats a baby as a product to be manipulated, violating the child’s integrity as a human being with an immortal soul from the moment of conception (Donum Vitae 1987).
The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has rejected freezing embryos as ethically acceptable. It clearly teaches that to allow human embryos to stay frozen indefinitely violates the basic dignity and respect of the person. Embryos: A Catholic Alternative to Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Adoption
Basically, we find ourselves in a conundrum about frozen embryos because there should not be such a phenomenon from the start. But since we find ourselves in this situation, what can we do without cooperating with evil? We read in the concluding words of Dignitas personae 19 the following:
All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons.”(8) For more on this problem in the light of Catholic Church teachings, click here: https://www.hli.org/?sfid=19849&_sf_s=frozen%20embryos%20
As Catholics and christians, we have a duty to speak out for the rights of those who have no power in our society – immigrants, minorities and in this case, human frozen embryos. These voiceless need our voice to point out to the world the injustices that are committed against them daily. We must clearly state that the war on children by freezing millions of human living embryos is not an option. It is murder. This is no way to treat human life. Children are not commodities to be produced for adult needs and commercialization. And regardless of the intentions of the people involved, it is gravely, deeply, intrinsically immoral.