Matt C. Abbott
March 31, 2012
Priest to parishioners: oppose IVF clinic
By Matt C. Abbott

Kudos to Father Thomas Milota, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Naperville, Ill., for recently sending a letter to his parishioners encouraging them to oppose the construction of a clinic specializing in the procedure of in vitro fertilization.

The text of Father Milota's letter is as follows:
    Dear Parishioner of SS. Peter and Paul,

    You have likely heard about the issue of the construction of a fertility clinic on the corner of Benton and Washington Streets and our opposition to this construction.

    At first glance, this opposition may be confusing for people because the clinic's stated purpose is assisting well-meaning couples in having a child, and the Church certainly supports a parent's desire to have a family. Indeed, there are many couples who have quite innocently conceived and brought into the world a child through the means of in vitro fertilization, which is the principle service that will be provided at this clinic. Further, the Catholic Church reverences every human life as sacred and a gift from God no matter how they are conceived. Further, we are certainly empathetic to those couples who are struggling to conceive and we invite them to come to the presentation on Thursday evening to learn what other options may be possible for them. Certainly, the good intentions of our couples and their desire to have a child are not the reasons for our opposition to the clinic.

    There are a great many practices associated with IVF which are contrary to the dignity of the human person and which many couples do not realize.

    The first issue is that although IVF may produce life in particular circumstances, it also results in the destruction of human life. Typically, more than one embryo is produced from the process. If these embryos are determined to be genetically defective, they are discarded, frozen indefinitely, or given over to research through which they are destroyed. Remember that every major physiology text book states that human life begins at conception.

    Another issue is the commodification of human life which results from the practice of IVF. If you log onto Dr. Morris' webpage, you will find the photos of a number of girls who have donated their ova for the process. You can choose which one you like the best, the most intelligent and best looking, and choose to use her ova for your new child. Dr. Morris emphatically stated at the last city council meeting that he will continue the practice of gender selection by which patients will choose whether they have a boy or a girl.

    This leads into another issue. Dr. Morris, on his webpage, encourages couples who are looking to use or need to use someone else's ova to solicit such donations from young women attending small local colleges. North Central College would clearly be fertile ground for this and there are no comprehensive studies determining the long term effects of this practice on young women. There are some smaller studies, however, that indicate that there is an increased risk of cancer associated with the IVF process.

    Another issue is that thousands of unimplanted embryos will be stored at this facility. Some will be implanted. Some will be donated to science. Some will be discarded. Others will simply be kept frozen indefinitely, never being allowed to come to term. Most estimate that, at present, there are more than 2,000,000 embryos contained in freezing chambers around the United States. Most of these embryos will never be implanted or brought to term. If this clinic is built, we will be contributing to these numbers in a significant way.

    Finally, all this will be within a block and a half of our parish and parish school. I hope this is a concern for you in that our children will be walking in front of this center on a daily basis. We will begin having to figure out a way to explain its purpose and that this is the place where the frozen embryos are kept in freezing chambers. If you would like to find out more regarding IVF and its dangers, please feel free to attend Dr. Caruso's presentation on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Holy Family Chapel. Dr. Caruso was involved in the IVF field for 15 years at the University of Chicago but has stopped doing IVF because of its dangers.

    Please also consider writing a letter to our mayor and city council members encouraging them to oppose the placement of this center on the corner of Benton and Washington. I have included their names and emails addresses below.

    Please also consider attending the city council meeting on April 3rd at 7:00 p.m. at the Naperville Municipal Center.

    Please remember that we are Catholics and Christians, and so all correspondence and discussions should be conducted with Christian charity and respect for those struggling with infertility, but I hope you now understand why this issue is so important.

    May Almighty God bless you and keep you.

    In Christ,
    Fr. Thomas A. Milota


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
    Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses' 'right to become a father and a mother only through each other.' (no. 2376)

    Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that 'entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.' 'Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses' union.... Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.' (no. 2377)
© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He has been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR and WLS-TV in Chicago, and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

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