Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Embryo adoption"

This article by Janet Smith on so-called embryo adoption, reveals serious problems in the argument for this 'compassionate solution' which does not take the body seriously enough.

Smith’s assertion that gestating a child not conceived with one’s spouse does not break the marital bond reduces the bond of marriage to one of will alone. If both spouses agree to “adopt” this embryo, Smith seems to suggest, then there’s nothing wrong with it. But when a man and a woman marry, the marital act that joins the two in one flesh is not simply a means to an end (either babies or unity) but one that expresses the truth of who they are now: given to one another. In this way, the entire process of the conception and gestation of a new life is a continuation of this expression of the love of husband and wife. It is only because her husband loves and has given himself to his wife that she can become a mother. One does not marry motherhood or fatherhood, but a person who may become one or the other, if God wills it.

Certainly if life begins at conception, it continues without interruption in gestation and should be respected and allowed to mature in this context of love. I am shocked that Smith would suggest that “some forms of ‘surrogacy’ be permissible” when the Church has uniformly spoken against it (see Donum Vitae 3 for a very clear explanation of why) and Dignitas Personae is clear about this, saying it is not licit “in any form”(19).

Clearly the process of “embryo adoption” removes not only the man completely but also the woman from the generation of this new life. Regardless of intention, the woman’s body is being used as the means to an (admittedly desirable) end.

I will just echo the words of Dignitas Personae, which deal with this question specifically and Smith never quotes in her article, “All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved”(19). Regardless of the technology that is made available, the basic principles outlined again and again by the Church reiterate that sex and procreation may not be separated. Not for any reason, however noble.


Aaron said...

Interesting stuff. The argument against embryo adoption seems cogent, but I am left asking the question: How is this substantially different from adoption? Or is that impermissible as well?

earthie said...

Totally different thing as far as the body is concerned.

If I adopt a child, it's pretty obvious that this is a child that I have taken into my life and marriage by choice and out of love. The child was born to someone; was conceived by a woman who was, for whatever reason, unable to care for him, and thus entrusted to others to bring him up. Not ideal but certainly a situation in which a beautiful Christian response is to care for the abandoned one.

It is really a semantic trick to call this other process adoption since it is not. What you are actually doing is placing someone else's baby into your womb. Since morality depends on the acting person- what you are actually doing- then what I am doing in normal adoption is taking a child into my home- something that is totally human (i.e. we always care for others' children in one sense or another)- whereas in this process what I'm actually doing is placing someone else's baby into my body, which is not something very human since it could never happen without the aid of a lot of technology and suppressing what is natural to my own body.

Yes?? There has to be a substantial difference between receiving a child inside your womb versus outside, even though the essential dignity of the child remains the same.