Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Abuse of human embryos

According to the Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. –
‘Hundreds of leftover IVF embryos from British couples have been given away to other people without their knowledge or explicit consent, in a controversial scheme at a clinic in Spain, it can be disclosed.’
It appears that the Spanish clinic operates an ‘embryo adoption scheme’ whereby so called ‘spare’ embryos, who are brought into being following IVF procedures, are ‘donated’ to other women if the couple whose children they are do not know what they want to do with them, or do not respond to a request from the clinic as to what should happen to them. The law in Spain rules that these children cannot trace their biological parents, and vice versa. Such an arrangement would be illegal in the U.K., where parents must give explicit consent to their embryos being adopted – or being used for any other purpose.

‘The situation’, says the Telegraph, ‘has highlighted the risks of travelling abroad for fertility treatment where different laws apply.’ Since 2004, over 120 British couples who availed of IVF procedures at the Spanish clinic did not decide what to do with their ‘spare’, or ‘left-over’, embryos, and these little embryos were ‘given out’ for adoption. ‘Each couple had on average two or three leftover embryos so potentially hundreds of embryos from British couples have been adopted …’, the article continued. These embryos are brothers and sisters of children already born to British couples.
‘The embryo’, says the clinic, ‘is matched to a woman of the same race … Because the women give birth to the babies there is no official paperwork for adoption and the baby is legally theirs.’

But what about the child? What about the rights of the child to know his or her own biological parents? Surely the much-vaunted UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child should be invoked to protect the child, particularly in such instances?

This story surely illustrates how the practice of IVF militates against children – against their dignity and against their humanity. The practice of IVF is wrong – it is both morally and socially wrong. Are children to be treated as commodities, to be acquired at the whim of others? This may sound harsh, as we know how much many couples long to have a child of their own. However, in the case of infertility there is the availability of NaPro technology (often previously mentioned on this blog), which provides a natural and respectful, non-invasive – and very successful – method of treating infertility.

Also, although we may know – and believe – that IVF is wrong, do we really know why this is so? There are two very important documents*, "Donum Vitae" and "Dignitas Personae", that examine and explain the reasons why we believe the practice of IVF to be wrong.

Another reason why IVF is so dangerous is that it has given rise to ‘research’ on human embryos. When the Irish people, in a referendum in 2002, rejected the proposal that abortion was to be defined as being applicable only from implantation (thus leaving the pre-implanted embryo open to attack), the Irish Government pushed on with their temporarily thwarted plans for research on embryos. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that pre-implanted embryos do not have the protection of the Constitution of Ireland. Yet Article 40.3.3. of the Constitution in the Irish language speaks of the right to life of the unborn as ‘na mbeo gan breith’ – literally, ‘the living not yet born’. Is not the embryo a living being, otherwise how could he or she develop, step by step, from embryo to newborn baby, to adult?

The two documents mentioned above can be accessed as follows:

Donum Vitae ‘Donum Vitae’,
Dignitas Personae ‘Dignitas Personae’