The Moral Dilemma In IVF

By Fr Kelvin Ugwu July 16, 2020

The Moral Dilemma In IVF

It has been estimated that more than 8 Million children have been born through IVF since 1978. This indeed is something worth applauding except that there is a BUT.

Since IVF is the process of achieving fertilization outside of the woman’s body, it is therefore characterised by, 1.getting sperm from the man. 2. extracting egg from the woman’s body. 3. bringing the egg and sperm together into a Petri dish in the lab for fertilization to take place, and finally 4. implanting the fertilized egg back to the woman’s body.

To get sperm from the man, the man masturbates into a special sample container he will be provided with except for some special cases in which surgical techniques for retrieving spermatozoa directly from the testis is used.

The morality of masturbating so as to retrieve sperm may not be a topic of discussion for irreligious people. But for religious people, the question of masturbation becomes a moral dilemma.

Some will quote Genesis 38, the story of Onan and Tamar, where Onan was punished and killed by the Lord for spilling his sperm on the ground as argument against masturbation. Others will argue that masturbating to get sperm for IVF is for a purpose of generating life and as such noble.

I leave that to you to reason out yourself.

The first major real challenge in IVF is extracting eggs from the woman.

As we all know, in a woman’s cycle, she produces at least one mature egg. But for IVF to be effective, the more the eggs she produces the better her chances.

To this, she is put under fertility medication containing follicle stimulating hormones in which the goal is to stimulate the maturity of many eggs at the same time instead of the normal situation of just one egg.

The woman soon starts taking constant shots or injections weeks before the eggs are retrieved.

There are shots to stimulate the production of more mature eggs. There are shots to prevent premature ovulation. There are shots to finally mature all the eggs as it approaches retrieval time. Then through a minor surgery, the eggs are retrieved.

Let me emphasize here that those shots come with pains. Though everyone will react differently to pains but that does not make it less painful. Again, the shots can have serious side effects on some women and less on others. There is also that fear of maturing all your eggs quickly and inviting menopause early.

As they say, nothing good comes easy. The devil is in the detail.

Now to the big issue in IVF. . .

The retrieved eggs and the sperm are brought together in a Petri dish and Fertilization takes place. The fertilized egg is called embryo.

In most cases up to ten and even more of the eggs are fertilized to form embryos. If 20 mature eggs are retrieved, there are chances that all of them will be fertilized.

After fertilization, not all the embryos will be implanted into the woman. The embryologist chooses the embryo considered to be the best. In most cases two or three are implanted into the woman. This is the reason you often have twins or triplets from those that did IVF.

Now to the big question. What happens to those embryos not implanted?

Simple, they are either destroyed or frozen.

Think about this for a while, more than 8 million children have been born through IVF, I just want you to imagine how many growing life have been destroyed or frozen even as you read this.

What is an embryo? The dictionary defines it as an unborn offspring in the process of development, in particular a human offspring during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization.

Modern genetics has established that a human being’s DNA is created when the sperm fertilizes the egg. At this moment of conception, a unique identity of the human person is created.

When you fertilizes 20 eggs creating a unique human life, then you select two and implant into the woman, and destroy the remaining 18, what can we call that?

Even when they are frozen, think about this: there are embryos that have been frozen for more than 10 years now. Those frozen embryos are developing human life that are put on pause mood for years. What do you make of it?

Again, when an embryologist selects one embryo under the guise of it being the best, and abandons others as not being good enough, it makes the embryologist look like the creator having power to chose and to condemn. Or like Hitler deciding the fate of the Jews based on whom he considered as having defects.

These issues are very deep and sensitive, please let us not make joke out of it. I sincerely put this forward for enlightenment and for open and honest discussion. More so, there are couples who chose IVF without knowing about this. It is good for us to have all the sides of an issue so as to make an informed decision.

IVF may not be totally bad, but there are some moral issues that is very difficult to ignore. Even for someone who is Prochoice, there are still gray areas in IVF that leaves you thinking twice. One of which could be the fact that the Petri dish used to fertilize the egg in the lab, contain some chemicals that could have some effects on the child.

Let us reason together! What do you say?

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