(This article is part of an ongoing series showing different adult obsessions in waging “War Against Children” by Fr. Jerry Novotny, OMI)
Millions of babies have come into the world through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). This method can provide couples with a child they desperately want. And it has brought many precious new lives into being, and real happiness to millions of parents. Therefore, many now think IVF is the answer to infertility. But it is not. Many problems have surfaced since Louise Brown, the first in vitro fertilization baby was born. These problems can be found in the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) business.
There is no story in the Bible that describes our current society better than the story of the Tower of Babel.
Just look at some newspaper and magazine headlines bombarding today’s readers:
These headlines give evidence that a large wall exist between the laws of nature and man’s desire to be god.
Like us, the people of Babel were professionals with a working amount of technical skills. However, they allowed that knowledge to fool them into believing that they could compete with God – that they could do what God alone can do. We know that with all their human know-how, in the end, all they had to show for their work was a pile of rubble.
We, in the present century, find ourselves in much the same situation. Our scientific technical know-how today far exceeds the scientists of Babel. We have traveled to the moon and sent satellites into outer space. Our research into the human body has made it possible to cure many diseases. New medicines have allowed the extension human life spans. Today (2023), Hong Kong’s life expectancy is 85.29, while Japan is second with an average of 85.02.
Present advances in agriculture make it possible to feed millions of people who would have starved to death. Our lives are so much better today than they have ever been because of science.
However, there has also been a dark side to this technological advancement. The same science that got us to the moon also was used to develop nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction. The same medical advances that cured diseases have also been used to create human embryos, many of which are experimented on, destroyed or even sold for cosmetics. For every 100 attempts to create life, IVF produces 5 live unborn babies while 75 end up dead. It is estimated that there are a million human embryos frozen in the United States alone with little hope of ever being able to develop into their full human potential. Our advanced knowledge has led us to be less careful about innocent human lives and those most vulnerable among us.
In 2012, Judie Brown in her article “In Vitro Fertilization: The Human Cost” wrote the following statistics. Quote: [In July of 2011, Britain announced that, for every child born by IVF, 30 embryos were created. This means that for a typical couple seeking IVF, somewhere between five and 30 of their children died so they could give birth to one. On a worldwide scale, this means that 30-150 million children have died because of IVF. In light of such staggering numbers the Church’s teaching makes perfect sense; it is “deeply disturbing” that “the number of embryos sacrificed is extremely high” (Dignitas Personae n. 14). At best, IVF is like playing Russian Roulette with six people, except only one chamber of the gun is empty. IVF treats the new human being as little more than a cluster of cells to be graded, selected, and discarded. As the Church has noted, “In other areas of medicine, ordinary professional ethics and the healthcare authorities themselves would never allow a medical procedure which involved such a high number of failures and fatalities” (Dignitas Personae n. 15). ] End of Quote.
In 2018, Philippa Taylor’s article “A 40th Birthday for IVF” states that since Louise Brown, the world’s first baby born via in vitro fertilisation (IVF), celebrate[d] her 40th birthday on July 25 many problems have occurred. Quote: [IVF has also opened what many regard as a Pandora’s Box of genetic engineering, cloning, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (screening out of embryos), embryonic stem cell harvesting, research on three-parent babies, and animal-human hybrids. Many IVF programs involve the production of spare embryos, which are then used for research, disposed of, or frozen for future use. Between 1990 and 2013 over two million were allowed to perish, according to a Parliamentary answer. Now, over 170,000 IVF embryos perish every year. Embryos are experimented on, donated to other couples, frozen indefinitely, or even turned into jewelry.] End of Quote.
When it comes to viewing this problem objectively from the point of view of science or the child, the gap among adults continues to grow wider. Like the people in the Tower of Babel, we are talking to each other less for example about the moral guidelines of Assisted Reproductive Technology. We are more divided than everabout what is right and what is wrong. We do not consider the child as an equal human being. If we are not careful, our world will end up in a heap of rubble like the Tower of Babel did.
Comparing ourselves to past experiences, have we moved forward regarding the value of human life. Through science, have we learned a deeper respect for human life. Has our knowledge developed to the extent that we protect life rather than than destroy it. Why not? What is lacking? We certainly have more knowledge than any civilization that has ever existed, but we lack one very strong quality: WISDOM. Without wisdom, we cannot put our knowledge to good use. Without wisdom, technology will continue to be used to destroy human life, not to preserve and enhance it.
Wisdom is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God wants to give us. It empowers us to see reality as God sees it. Through wisdom, we are able to see the world as God’s creation given for our use and enjoyment. Wisdom helps us to see nature as something beautiful to be conserved for future generations rather than as raw material for us to exploit.
Through Wisdom, we realize that each human being is created in the image and likeness of God. We cannot use people and discard them because of their race, their stage of development, their economic status, or any other reason. Each person is valuable for no other reason than that he or she is a human being.
Wisdom helps us see that the only real progress is that which enriches everyone from the very beginning of human life. Progress and technological advancement can never come at the price of the destruction of innocent human life or of the planet. Anything that threatens human lives cannot be real progress.
The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of Catholic social teaching. Throughout the world, unborn babies are under direct attack from abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, “unborn baby snatching” and whatever this war on innocent life can conceive to feed its appetite for big bucks. The intentional targeting of unborn babies is always wrong. The Catholic Church and all Catholics believe that every person is precious, that each person is more important than money. The quality of our life is measured by whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person. “Human persons are willed by God; they are imprinted with God’s image. Their dignity does not come from the work they do, but from the persons they are.” (St. John Paul II)
“When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.” (Pope Francis) Life is a gift from God; consequently, every human life is sacred from its very beginning to its very end.
Silence is no longer an alternative to avoid protecting innocent life as Pope Francis points out. We can no longer turn the other way and make believe these problems have nothing to do with us. The first right of any human person is life, size and age do not enter into the equation. AND this right does not belong to parents, society, nor does it belong to government. We have a duty to make courageous choices in support of life. Some day each of us will have to answer to God for these choices. “Let us love one another because love is from God.” (1 John 4:7-12)
IVF needs to be exposed. We need to protect all innocent human beings and expose the inherent evils in practices such as IVF. Otherwise, like the society during the Tower of Babel, we will continue to propagate evil, like IVF and call it good.
Jerry Novotny, OMI
Websites by Fr. Jerry
(English) LifeIssues.net – Pro Life Website
(English) Fighting for the Culture of Life – Fr. Jerry’s Blog
(English) Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – Japan and Korea
(Japanese) Japan-lifeissues.net – Pro Life Website
(Japanese) Human Rights: The Road to a Happy Life – Fr. Jerry’s Blog
(Japanese) Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – Japan and Korea