Interesting case study in Catholic ethics

In the DVD lecture series that I’ve been listening to for my classes, Janet Smith talks about the increase in infertility problems in our society, and how much of it can be traced to contraception and the “sexual revolution.” There are many reasons why people can be infertile, but most cases are due to the consequences of STDs or the hormonal changes wrought by long-term contraceptive use.

Now, one aspect of the Church’s teaching on birth control that is overlooked is the Church’s teaching on medical matters in general. The Church favors integrity of the body. While body piercing, for example, may not be as severe a sin as contraception, it is still a sin according to Catholic teaching. Circumcision is likewise considered a mortal sin, both on New Testament grounds and on the grounds that it violates the integrity of God’s design.

It is wrong to use cocaine for recreation; it is OK to use cocaine to numb teeth for dental work.

When we introduce drugs to our bodies, engage in self-mutilation (aka body art) or unnecessary medical procedures (e.g., plastic surgery), we are violating God’s plans for our bodies and tampering with nature. Tampering with nature in this way must have consequences, and it usually does.

Some people use birth control pills with legitimate hormonal problems, but most women use them strictly for personal use. In this context, they are really no different in moral value than “recreational drugs.” They’re drugs women take in order to “have a good time”. Like all drugs, they have side effects.

So, women take birth control pills. They suffer side effects. They damage their bodies. Then they use artificial conception methods to have a baby. Then they have pregnancy complications and damage their health even further.

This woman wants us to pity her. You see, due to various infertility problems experienced by her and her husband, they “had” to use in vitro fertilization to get pregnant. Of course, IVF is just as wrong as contraception and abortion, despite “good intentions” or the pitiable state of the people who use it. There are plenty of options for childless couples, not the least of which is adoption.

But they chose the immoral, self-centered route of engineering embryos in a lab.

Now, wouldn’t it stand to reason that a woman with fertility problems might also have pregnancy problems, or that artificially taking an egg out of a woman’s body then artificially impanting an embryo outside the normal hormonal cycle would cause problems?

Well, in her case, it did. So she got pregnant, had complications, and those complications proved life-threatening. She had a “partial birth abortion” (a term which she and her allies claim is inaccurate), killed her surviving baby (one already died) and now wants us to pity her and support her in her anger at the pro-life movement.

Yet we’re the ones saying, “Don’t use birth control; don’t use IVF, because they have horrible consequences.”

It’s sad she’s gone through this horror. And we all make mistakes, and “I told you so” certainly doesn’t help.

But it’s interesting to see someone so ignorant of the chain of events.

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