Last week my friend Denise published on Catholic Exchange an account of her IVF experience, which is entitled “Treading on Sacred Ground.” If you’re considering this type of assisted reproduction … or are still on the fence with how you feel about embryonic stem cell research, this article is for you.
One line in the article that gave me pause was the obvious pain the author felt over venturing beyond the ethical boundaries the Church has established for family life — in this case, satisfying the desire to conceive a child.
As I wrote to Denise in the comments:
[You wrote in your article,] “My husband and I talked about it later. We had come face to face with the earliest moments of our children’s lives. We had peered into something that only God should see. We didn’t deserve what blessing might come despite our serious sin.”
I’m sure you must realize the sin was not in the looking … the looking was a kind of grace, for it gave you an opportunity to contemplate the seriousness of your actions. And in the contemplation, to express the lesson in words that even now may change a life.
“[God makes] all things work together for good…” the Scriptures tell us. By walking as closely as possible to truth, we spare ourselves untold heartache. And yet, in our failures we often catch an unforgettable glimpse of the mercy of God.
We were made for love, to participate in the divine and creative love of God. But for every true and good gift, the evil one conjurs a deceptive counterfeit. Your story shows just why the Church is right to speak against these kinds of assisted reproductive technologies. The cross of infertility is both real and painful … but perfect love always works according to God’s design, not our own.
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This morning Danielle Bean was leading a spirited discussion: The Right to Motherhood: Faith & Family Live!
The discussion is about Nadya Suleman, the single California mother who recently gave birth to octuplets, and has six additional children — all born through IVF. And none growing up with a father. (The “donor” recently married someone else.) Nadya is saying she plans to be off welfare as soon as she finishes school …
When asked the reason she had six embryos implanted in her womb (producing eight children), she gushed about “always wanting a large family.” While this woman’s desire to preserve the life of the embryos created through the assisted reproductive technology is commendable, the whole story is a study in disordered thinking that has become so endemic in our society… Most notably, the belief that parenthood is an individual “right” rather than a joint responsibility shared by the mother and father who bring a child into the world.
Several individuals at F&F called for the woman to relinquish the children for adoption, so that they might have a mother and a father. In truth, this may be the best option for the sake of the children — at least some of whom, by virtue of the circumstances of their birth, will continue to have special needs.
However, this strikes me as one of those situation for which even the “best option” is less than satisfactory. How much better if someone (her parents, perhaps) had given this woman a “reality check” before she went back to that clinic!
I can’t help but wonder … Does she plan to stop at 14?
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By our very nature, women are called by God to nurture new life. Children are true “gifts,” the fruit of total self-giving, sown in the protected arbor of married love. When children are conceived in this way, we become co-creators with God – a human reflection of divine love that is the Trinity.
So then, what is a couple to do when, after giving of themselves as generously and totally as they know how, they still do not conceive? Continue reading