Last time, I laid down some of the background for how misguided is the promotion of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) when compared to paucity of legitimate infertility treatments that seek to actually restore the healthy state of fertility. Now, I’ll detail some of the specific aspects of this process that I believe qualify it for the ignominy of being indeed the sum of all evils within the medical profession.
The attraction of IVF is mixed with both noble and selfish motives. The desire for children for their own sake within marriage is a natural and universal good. However, the desire for a child as a possession or commodity to own is an obvious reflection of fallen human nature. An appeal to the latter attitude was most conspicuous when I first saw a large highway billboard advertisement for an IVF center with a large picture of an infant’s face covered with the following phrase in 5 meter font “Want One?”. This obvious commercialization of conception is only the tip of the sinister iceberg.
Consider the following typical scenario. A couple seeking treatment for infertility undertakes the following process. The woman is taken to the operating room for a “diagnostic” laparoscopy. During the operation, the physician arbitrarily decides that her Fallopian tubes are enlarged. In a move that would rightly shock most observers, he then proceeds to surgically remove both of her tubes! The complete and irreversible form of sterilization has now guaranteed that the woman will only be able to conceive via IVF. As unbelievable as this may sound, I have personally witnessed such an outrage committed under the dubious claim that this would improve her chance of successful IVF―even though she had not yet even consented to either the sterilization or future IVF attempts.
In the later IVF cycle, the woman is given medications that dangerously overstimulate her ovaries (far beyond their natural function) in order to cause the development of 10 or more ova (eggs) at a time. Naturally, a woman only produces one ovum per cycle. She and her husband are given strict instructions to avoid marital intercourse during this process. Ironically, the woman is placed on a birth-control pill. Then, around mid cycle the couple is brought in to the office. The husband is given pornography along with instructions to collect semen in a specimen cup via masturbation in a nearby toilet stall. The same day, the woman is taken to a procedure room where her ova are “harvested,” in a most undignified and miserable process by which a large-bore needle is directed through the vagina into her ovaries. In the same room, the technician designated “embryologist” examines the eggs under microscope and literally mixes them in plastic petri dish with the recently provided semen. If at least 8 human embryo’s are conceived in this manner, it will be considered an optimal first step. These 8 newly conceived human beings are then graded by the embryologist in order to determine which are of the highest quality. About half usually make the cut; the rest are literally disposed of as mere medical waste. In fact, I was appalled to once hear an IVF doctor respond with unusual frankness to a couple asking what would happen to any spare embryos, “we throw them in the trash.” Of the four remaining, 2-4 will be “transferred” (injected via syringe) into the woman’s uterus with the hope that only one will survive. Those “high quality” embryos not already thrown into the waste bin are sometimes frozen indefinitely at great expense with small likelihood of ever surviving any thawing process for later IVF attempt. If by some “misfortune” more than one embryo survives in the mother’s womb, she is then advised to undergo “selective embryo reduction.” This of course is simply another duplicitous euphemism for a procedure intended to destroy all but one of the human lives. The maternal-fetal medicine specialists are now all too ready to use their ultrasound skills to aid in the decision of which child should be spared. Perhaps they want a boy, perhaps they want to be certain the baby spared isn’t the one with a cleft palate.
What if the harvested eggs or harvested sperm are deemed poor quality? There is a thriving and rather lucrative market of human eggs and sperm for sale wherein for the right price, the couple can purchase eggs or sperm from anonymous individuals of whatever age and background they prefer. In addition to material adultery, the injustice to the children conceived using such vendor (dishonestly called “donor”) eggs or sperm is that the children and biologic parents are separated in a most bizarre and unnatural manner from ever seeing or even knowing of one another. Ever wonder how legal disputes are settled over the custody and rights of the frozen embryos? In the U.S., such cases have established a precedent where such children are treated as property. The last time human beings were legally treated as property in Western society was during the time of African slavery.
In summary, let’s itemize the evils incorporated in the IVF process: 1) contraception, 2) sterilization, 3) pornography, 4) masturbation, 5) in-vitro fertilization itself, 6) induced abortion, 7) euthanasia (destruction of the “spare embryos”), 8) freezing of live human beings (“cryo-preservation”), 9) material adultery, 10) the degradation of human beings to mere property in striking likeness to the slave trade of past centuries, 11) the flagrant exploitation of couples seeking medical remedy for their suffering of infertility. Is there any other practice in or outside of medicine that entails so much harm to the good of the human person? If one understand that IVF is indeed the sum of all evils in modern medicine, why not?
–Dr. Frank (Ob/Gyn)