Matt C. Abbott
May 10, 2015
Sofia Vergara, Nick Loeb and the moral problem of IVF
By Matt C. Abbott

(A version of this column originally appeared at the American Thinker Blog.)

Although not a subject you'll often hear discussed even in pro-life circles, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is an evil that should be prohibited by law. (I concede that it's a pipe dream to think this will occur in the foreseeable future.)

Consider the recent story involving Hollywood celebrity Sofia Vergara.

From LifeNews.com:
    Nick Loeb has filed a lawsuit against Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara in an attempt to stop her from destroying a pair of frozen embryos they created while they were engaged. In May 2014, the couple broke off their engagement after four years of dating. A source close to Loeb explained that he didn't want to see the embryos destroyed because he's always believed that life begins at conception. The couple created the embryos through in vitro fertilization.

    Vergara said [in an interview with Howard Stern], 'I totally understand him. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is law. You signed legal papers. If it was serious for him, this issue – which I totally respect is for someone – he should have taken it more seriously. There is a contract...Even if it's life or not life, that's not what he signed!'....

    The dispute between Loeb and Vergara highlights one of the problems with in vitro fertilization, which is that unused or unwanted embryos are often discarded or destroyed... [I]n 2011, a study in the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine revealed that 19% of unused embryos are discarded and 3% are donated for scientific research.
Indeed. In addition to the practice itself being contrary to the natural law, it's tragic that so many embryos – human lives with vast potential – are destroyed as a result of the practice.

In 1987, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated the following (click here to read the document in its entirety):
    Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and subjects with rights: their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable 'biological material.' In the usual practice of in vitro fertilization, not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman's body; some are destroyed. Just as the Church condemns induced abortion, so she also forbids acts against the life of these human beings. It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained 'in vitro' for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial insemination of by means of 'twin fission.' By acting in this way the researcher usurps the place of God; and, even though he may be unaware of this, he sets himself up as the master of the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills defenseless human beings.

    Methods of observation or experimentation which damage or impose grave and disproportionate risks upon embryos obtained in vitro are morally illicit for the same reasons. Every human being is to be respected for himself, and cannot be reduced in worth to a pure and simple instrument for the advantage of others. It is therefore not in conformity with the moral law deliberately to expose to death human embryos obtained 'in vitro.' In consequence of the fact that they have been produced in vitro, those embryos which art not transferred into the body of the mother and are called 'spare' are exposed to an absurd fate, with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued.
That teaching has not changed in recent years.

As for Mr. Loeb: Yes, it's unfortunate that he and Ms. Vergara chose to pursue in vitro fertilization to begin with (not to mention doing so while unmarried), but he's now trying to right a wrong, and I commend him for that. Whether he'll be successful with his lawsuit is another matter. I'm no attorney, but it doesn't look good.

I say: if you consider yourself pro-life, you should be opposed to in vitro fertilization.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

© 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's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., 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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