Skip to main content
Tags: in vitro fertilization | ivf

Does IVF Turn Humans Into Manufactured Commodities?

a person pointing on a computer screen to human embryo created by in vitro fertilization
(AFP via Getty Images)

Rick Hinshaw By Thursday, 18 April 2024 02:29 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) has seized public attention after the Alabama Supreme Court found in favor of several parents who brought a “wrongful death” lawsuit when their frozen embryos were accidently destroyed.

The court found that frozen embryos are living human beings entitled to the same legal protections as all human life — which, in Alabama, includes pre-born children from the earliest stages of existence.

A national hue and cry ensued about infertile couples being deprived of this means of conceiving; and Republican politicians began falling over themselves rushing to safeguard and promote IVF.

Politically, this is understandable. Since the Dobbs ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Democrats and their media acolytes have been characterizing even the most tepidly “anti-abortion” Republicans as “extremists.”

And most Republicans, rather than respond by highlighting the Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism, are — with some notable exceptions — in full flight running away from even politically popular aspects of the anti-abortion agenda.

Now, knowing the abortion lobby will gleefully cite any questions about the ethical probity of IVF as further evidence of “anti-abortion extremism,” Republicans want to get out front in supporting something positive — helping infertile couples to have a child.

On the surface, beyond which vote-seeking politicians seldom probe, that seems all there is to it.

Delving deeper, however, there are troubling moral and ethical concerns about which many Americans — and certainly many politicians — seem blissfully unaware and determinedly uninterested.

Do they understand, for example, that every human embryo, whether conceived naturally or artificially through IVF, is, from that moment, a genetically unique and genetically complete human being?

Are they aware, as Human Life International President Father Shenan Boquet explains, that “because embryos often fail to implant successfully in the mother’s womb, it is common to create more embryos than will be used”? And that “the ‘leftovers’ are then frozen indefinitely in a cryogenic chamber or destroyed”? [my emphasis]

Do they know that “Right now,” as Father Boquet writes, “over one million embryonic human beings are in cryogenic suspended animation in U.S. IVF clinics,” and “Many millions more are preserved in clinics elsewhere on the globe or are being created and experimented upon (and destroyed) [my emphasis] in many universities”?

Are they aware, as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops documents, that IVF involves not only disposing of millions of embryos outside the womb, but also killing babies within the womb during the older, more developed fetal stage?

It is common practice to implant more than one embryo in the mother’s womb, to assure that at least one survives the unnatural implantation procedure. When more babies survive and grow within the womb than the parents want, the “excess” human lives are aborted.

Are we comfortable with this?

Are we comfortable with turning human lives into manufactured commodities, to be mass-produced, then utilized if they meet the right specifications but disposed of if they don’t, or because overproduction has resulted in a “supply” that exceeds “demand”?

Do we understand that we are talking about destroying human lives here — not discarding defective appliance parts or liquidating an excess inventory of automobiles?

Are we even aware of “natural cycle IVF,” a more humane alternative that creates only one embryo at a time? As described by Erika Andersen in The Wall Street Journal, this “involves using a woman’s natural cycle to retrieve a single egg, inseminating it outside the body, then transferring it back into the uterus when it has the best chance of success.” [my emphases]

This would not resolve all the Church’s ethical and natural law concerns. As Pope Francis has just reiterated, "The child has the right to have a fully human (and not artificially induced) origin.”

But it would stop the dehumanizing mass manufacturing of human lives, the vast majority of them destined not to be brought to term and welcomed in love, but frozen indefinitely, then disposed of en masse, or implanted and later aborted in their mothers’ wombs.

I get the strategic considerations. A public jaded by almost 50 years of unrestricted abortion under Roe is far from ready to embrace full protection for pre-born human life, least of all for the tiniest embryos.

We are going to have to advance incrementally, and opposing IVF is, strategically, not the best place to start — especially for those in politics who must weather the torrents of ideological distortion and media misinformation as they strive to advance any “pro-life” objectives.

But is it too much to ask that Republican politicians, in their rush to avoid being marginalized themselves, stop marginalizing those who raise critical questions about IVF’s impact on respect for life?

That they at least address the unconscionable “selective reduction” abortions that are part and parcel of in vitro fertilization?

That they consider “natural cycle IVF” as a more humane approach than mass-producing, then mass-freezing and ultimately mass-destroying, millions of human embryos?

That they at least try to understand and mitigate the de-humanizing impact that this reduction of human lives to disposable manufactured products has on respect for all human life?

Let me be clear: I am not engaging in judgmental denigration of children conceived and born through IVF, parents who utilize this method of conceiving a child, or “pro-life” politicians rushing to embrace it. (Profiteering by “the multi-billion-dollar fertility industry,” as Jordan Boyd of The Federalist describes it, might be another matter, meriting further scrutiny.)

The Church and the "pro-life" movement have been and always will be in the forefront of loving and welcoming every human life, regardless of the circumstances of a person’s creation.

Just as when conception occurs out-of-wedlock — also disapproved by the Church — the child is always loved and welcomed unconditionally by the Church and the "pro-life" movement, both of which extend loving, nurturing care, without judgment, to babies and their parents.

Indeed, it is that unconditional love, for every human life, that prompts moral and ethical concerns about a process that reduces human beings to disposable manufactured products.

For three decades, Rick Hinshaw has given voice to faith values in the public square, as a columnist, then editor of The Long Island Catholic; communications director for the Catholic League and the New York State Catholic Conference; co-host of "The Catholic Forum," on cable. He is now editor of his own blog, "Reading the Signs." Visit Rick’s home page at Read Rick Hinshaw's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The Church and the "pro-life" movement have been and always will be in the forefront of loving and welcoming every human life, regardless of the circumstances of a person’s creation.
in vitro fertilization, ivf
Thursday, 18 April 2024 02:29 PM
Newsmax Media, Inc.

Sign up for Newsmax’s Daily Newsletter

Receive breaking news and original analysis - sent right to your inbox.

(Optional for Local News)
Privacy: We never share your email address.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.

Interest-Based Advertising | Do not sell or share my personal information

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Download the NewsmaxTV App
Get the NewsmaxTV App for iOS Get the NewsmaxTV App for Android Scan QR code to get the NewsmaxTV App
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved