Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Anticipation of the Annunciation, Some Thoughts on What the Church Proclaims about Conception

It is more than five years since the Vatican's magnificent instruction on human life at its origins, calling all of us to courageously defend human life:
  • Dignitas Personae proclaims human dignity, from the first moment of fertilization until natural death.  No matter how a new human came to be, she is owed absolute respect.  
  • Dignitas Personae says that a new human being has the right to originate in the loving embrace of a mom and dad, who are wife and husband.   
  • Dignitas Personae states that "the ethical value of biomedical science is gauged in reference to both the unconditional respect owed to every human being at every moment of his or her existence, and the defense of the specific character of the personal act which transmits life" (# 10).

(Assisted) Reproductive Technology

Our times have seen a well documented increase in infertility, as well as interest in reproductive technology.   We see more and more well financed ad campaigns, for methods which do NOT show "unconditional respect owed to every human being at every moment of his or her existence, and the defense of the specific character of the personal act which transmits life."

When employed by a husband and wife, Dignitas Personae says assistance to AID the "marital act" toward procreation can be moral (eg.,
  • "hormonal treatments..., 
  • "surgery for endometriosis, 
  • "unblocking of fallopian tubes or their surgical repair,....
  • "prevention of sterility" (# 13)). 
Even when used by a husband and wife, Dignitas Personae says methods REPLACING the marital act (eg., IVF) are immoral (IVF is also incredibly expensive with a low "success" rate - NaPro Technology is a fabulous alternative.).  Exacerbating IVF's immorality is discarding/freezing "extra", unwanted embryos.

Dignitas Personae also forbids implanting a new human being in the womb of a woman other than her mom.
Dignitas Personae says that "cryopreservation of oocytes for the purpose of being used in artificial procreation is...morally unacceptable" (# 20).

Stem Cells/Research/Therapy

Dignitas Personae forbids using new humans as research material.  Despite research "science" presented by celebrities, obtaining stem cells from human embryos is NEITHER the only way to obtain them NOR the most promising.  As per Dignitas Personae,
  • "Methods which do not cause serious harm to the subject from whom the stem cells are taken are to be considered licit. This is generally the case when tissues are taken from: 
    a) an adult organism; 
    b) the blood of the umbilical cord at the time of birth; 
    c) fetuses who have died of natural causes. 
    The obtaining of stem cells from a living human embryo, on the other hand, invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit" (# 32).

Dignitas Personae tells us that when cell lines are illicitly obtained, researchers must refuse to use them. However, "danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, while keeping in mind that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available" (# 35).

Dignitas Personae says that human cloning and mixing human with animal genetic material are immoral (This sort of atrocious treatment of human beings is not limited to science fiction!)

With regard to gene therapy, Dignitas Personae says that "Procedures used on somatic cells for strictly therapeutic purposes are in principle morally its current state, germ line cell therapy in all its forms is morally illicit" (# 26). Also rejected is "genetic engineering for purposes other than medical treatment" (# 27).

Emergency So-Called Contraception

I have long believed that Section 23 of Dignitas Personae calls for change at Catholic hospitals, regarding the treatment of women identified as victims of sexual assault. After trying to rule out pregnancy (and/or ovulation), the use of so-called "emergency contraception" (aka, "morning after pills") HAS been allowed at Catholic hospitals.  Yet,  it's IMPOSSIBLE to ensure that "emergency contraception" is NOT abortifacient:
  • "Such methods are interceptive if they interfere with the embryo before implantation and contragestative if they cause the elimination of the embryo once implanted....
  • "the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral." 
 Though actually defended by the National Catholic Bioethics Center, Dignitas Personae offers NO guidelines for the supposed "moral" use of a potential interceptive or contragestative.  Fr. Juan VĂ©lez is an Opus Dei priest with a doctorate in dogmatic theology and an M.D.  Along with Rebecca Peck, M.D., Fr. Juan has more recently written:
  • "All physicians who value life, and especially Catholic healthcare institutions, have a duty to re-examine the available scientific information on Plan B. We think the data shows a small anovulatory effect and suggests a significant post-fertilization or abortifacient effect. Given this information, the Peoria Protocol, and other rape-based protocols should be abandoned, as use of Plan B during the critical fertile period, would not be expected to prevent ovulations in a majority of cases, and in fact, would lead to a significant possibility of post-fertilization effect.
  • "Moreover, as newer emergency contraceptives with better efficacies emerge, the precedent has been set for allowing agents with abortifacient mechanisms of action" ("Plan B’s Main Mechanism of Action: The Case for a Post-Fertilization Effect," Human Life International).
In the words of Human Life International, I pray that "Catholic bishops and those who advise them in these issues will see the urgency of revisiting the approval of Plan B for treatment of women who have been raped. These women deserve the absolute best life-affirming care possible, and this care should not include drugs that only compound the violence already suffered by causing abortions."

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

Blog Archive

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

Total Pageviews

12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010