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Reproductive Technology:

Reproductive technologies play a major role in the lives of so many in our culture.  When I think of what the term means I automatically think of options for assisting folks with having a baby. The term actually refers to “various medical procedures that are designed to alleviate infertility, the inability of a couple to produce a child of their own” (Rae, 156). I am in total support of technologies that aid the reproduction process but the ethics of the process cannot be ignored.

As it stands, options available for parents/parent include artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood. Compassion comes to mind when one thinks of the couple or the single adult who so long to have the joy of a child in their lives. This process can make this possible. Here’s a quick overview of available options:

  • Intrauterine insemination(IUI) – performed with the use of a man’s sperm being inserted into the uterus of the woman artificially rather than through natural sexual intercourse. This process is often inexpensive and gives the couple a greater chance of conception
  • Donor insemination – performed with the sperm of an outside donor, anonymous or with consent, also inserted into the woman’s uterus
  • Egg donation – women can get involved by donating multiple eggs retrieved through surgery and given to an infertile couple
  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer(GIFT) –  the woman is given hormonal treatments that assist her with producing eggs. Eggs are extracted, the man’s sperm is obtained through masturbation, eggs placed together with sperm, allowing for a greater chance of fertilization as eggs are placed back in the fallopian tubes.
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) – the woman receives hormonal treatments to release eggs, the man’s sperm also obtained through masturbation but fertilization takes place in the lab rather than in the woman’s body. Later on the fertilized eggs are placed back into the uterus.
  • Surrogate motherhood – this process involves the man’s sperm being inserted into a contracting donor who conceives, carries and give birth to a baby. Another option is Gestational surrogacy where the womb of a donor is used, not the egg. IVF is performed with the couple, then embryos are implanted into the surrogate who carries and gives birth to a child.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ISCI) – another available option that is very expensive but reliable. A single sperm is injected into an egg using technology resulting in pregnancy.

I do not yet have a child. My wife and I have recently started the process so I can empathize with anyone trying to have a baby. The fact that these options are available can provide needed hope and alternatives. Yet, consideration must be given to which approach violates morality. One never really considers certain issues until it reaches home. I am a bit tossed on a few of these, yet very much against others. In one sense, the Christian are people of the Book (Bible). All decisions must be considered against the Word of God. For those of is seeking to have a baby, we first turn our attention to prayer as God is the one that has declared that we should be fruitful and multiply. So the “Bible has general optimism about medical technology as part of the mandate to establish dominion over the earth” (Rae, 163). Only that some options are not morally appropriate.

I am not Catholic and these topics are taboo for most Christian denominations including mine, so any consideration of reproductive technologies are usually a private matter between the couple. I can’t say that this is something I would discuss with my Pastor. Therefore, my worldview on the matter is what will take precedent. The Catholic position employs use of the stating that ‘sex is reserved for marriage and tradition makes little room for any reproductive technology that interferes with the natural process of procreation” (Rae, 163).  The Catholic position states that procreation should only occur in the context of marriage, therefore surrogacy is morally acceptable. I agree with this position. This position can be embraced by Christians but we cannot expect the non-Christian to embrace this position. For them, this is a morally acceptable option that can provide needed joy. I can understand this, although I would not promote it. This biblical position supports conception happening as God intended – in the mother’s womb and not with the involvement of a third party. Things can get pretty muddled with both surrogacy and sperm donation. The baby will have the genes of parties outside of the marriage.

There is also the issue of obtaining of eggs through masturbation. The Catholic position on this is that “masturbation may not be used as a substitute for sexual relations I order to collect sperm outside the body to be inserted into the womb” (Rae, 164). This position I consider hardline! My wife and I spoke about this one. We are of the position that considerations must be given to individual cases. We shouldn’t just paint a broad stroke in decisions for everyone. Some couples experience Vaginismus – the woman experiences vaginal spasms where the muscle contracts during penetration which makes sexual intercourse painful and un-pleasurable. Should we not consider this woman and assist her? Then there’s the man who experiences erectile dysfunction – the frustration experienced here. Should he not be helped? I am of the position that as long as obtaining the sperm within the context of marriage, the couple in agreement, then there is no guilt associated with masturbation to achieve an agreed goal. This I believe is morally acceptable. There’s also scripture that encourages us to be content with our lot (1 Cor. 7: 17-28). This scripture is used to “suggest that use of any reproductive technology “could” fall outside the parameters if its use is motivated by desperation” (Rae, 167).

Lastly, my position on this matter is (1) Procreation should take place within the context of a stable, permanent monogamous, and heterosexual marriage (2) Effort must be made to protect fetuses and embryos in fertility procedures (3) Adoption is a viable option (4) Reproduction technologies that involve surrogacy and outside sperm donation is not a morally acceptable option (5) Christians need to bathe these decisions in prayer.

Children are a gift from God and so is technology. Deliberate considerations must be given to the use of technology. As long as it does not violate God’s command, he use of reproductive technologies are an available option.

W.C. 1066

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