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Assisted Reproduction? One can imagine
by Janos Talaber PhD
Recently plenty of articles have turned up about sexual abusers, abortion , and young pregnant teenagers in the newspapers, magazines. Moral theologians, priests, bishops, and many so-called ‘experts’ are arguing about these up-to-date moral problems, but one thing is still missing. They can observe these problems from a good point of view, we are all aware of the immorality of these things, we all consider them to be unacceptable in our catholic life, but nobody can find a proper solution for them. I keep continuously asking why? As for our Pope, he is always saying what things are morally proper or not, especially regarding abortion or birth control. But could the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith or the Pope figure out any acceptable, satisfying solution to handle these phenomena? No, still not. They keep preaching that using condoms, birth control pills or any other intrauterine devices is strongly against God’s will, and very unnatural. However, they are incapable of solving the problem.. In an article I have nowadays read the author says that one of the solutions would be to avoid sexual contact? This reminds me of another question. How would priests or the Pope himself be able to speak about those things which they are not touched by? As for catholic theology, we teach that the sexual contact is supposed to be dealt with only in the frame of marriage. In the marriage then, as the next step, we would say,’ avoid sexual contacts if you don’t want to have a kid or get infected by HIV?’. Clerics say, ‘plan your family and use a calendar.’ Then imagine a calendar in which the dates of the sexual intercourse are marked. So all the conjugal acts are pre-prepared. What would it lead to? Human acts? Or wouldn’t the married couples work as programmed machines? Is it what God would tell us to do? In a love relation, passion is very specifying. So is it in marriage. You cannot plan the dates of your conjugal acts. It is not human. It is rather inhuman.
But today I did not make my pen ready to write for sexual abuses, abortion, and these things. From the basket of these moral questions, however, one thing is still missing: the question of assisted reproduction. Of course I am aware of the fact that CDF and the Church are strictly against medical help in procreation, but until now I have not been able to find the ground which their opinions are based on. Thousands and thousands of innocent religious couples are touched by the problem of infertility - many who are also worth having an own baby; those who are also the creatures of God. Indeed I am not preaching about the manipulation of genes and embryos, but strongly can I imagine medical assistance in procreation. The only question here is: how to link the ethics of medical interference to moral theology? Let me explain it.
CDF and its judgments
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When CDF states that assisted reproduction is morally unacceptable, its opinion is laid on the human way of conjugal act. This is the action taken place between the spouses, especially aiming at the procreation of new life. This act is sanctified by God - implying that God is the only one who can give us babes or take them away. Generally, it would mean that the sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is strongly determined by procreation and vice versa; procreation is the key in sexual well-beings. Though this definition seems to be ridiculous and a bit old-fashioned like, it was adapted in the previous edition of CIC (Codex Iuris Canonici) in 1917. However, to keep steps up with our changing modern life, the new Code changed the definition, ‘ The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman between themselves establish a partnership for their whole life, and which of its nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children...’ (CIC’83 c.1055) This definition is to express that the Church may shut down her
eyes before sexual enjoyment within the frames of sacramental marriage, but only if the way towards free procreation is open. But what if - in spite of our willingness - the procreation is somehow blocked by a disease, infection or other gynecological, andrological problems? No one dare say that pious innocent people should simply acquiesce in the problem and nod their heads without visiting a specialist. They have to visit a doctor, they must not hesitate to discuss their problems in order that they could find an acceptable solution.
Morally satisfying solutions?
There are several tools of medical help. Some really can be accepted and favored. Step by step, it is possible to pick on the proper, satisfying help for the pious religious couples.
First, it is very important to visit the doctor, and try to find out the disease which stands in the background. In some cases, both men and women are responsible for infertility, but as for the statistics, the leading cause is a mechanical problem. (55%) It means that the ovum and the sperm cannot meet, so that they will become unable to start developing. This mechanical problem, if there are not any other problems, can be easily handled. But unfortunately, a high percentage of the couples will never know what the problem has been.(35%) This is when doctors say there is an immunological problem. Honestly, in this case only God knows what is going on, and why there is not conception. For all this, medical help is also available, but we do not which try will succeed in the end.
Generated (stimulated) ovulation is made by giving pills to women - especially elder women who have some gynecological problems - in order to produce ova, because they may not have had a functioning ovarium. In this case, the conjugal act and the open way of procreation is not disturbed.
Insemination is a device to inject sperms into the womb (uterine) of the women. This triggers out moral questions. A homologue insemination is today accepted by a huge number of theologians, since in this case, the husband’s sperms are injected.
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