Friday, January 4, 2013

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in the UK — is it just 'loss' and 'waste' ?

Is it 'loss' and 'waste' and 'industrial numbers'?, this contemporary medical and technological development whereby women without children who want a child, one or more, but otherwise may have some compliction in getting pregnant, or who may simply but strongly prefer a child consanguinous with herself.  Some critics of IVF, like Lord David Alton (not formally a member of a party in the Britain's upper house, but what is called a 'crossbencher') and lawyer Andrea Williams (dynamic leader of several valuable Christian political and cultural causes in England), arrogantly compare the natural desire for a consanguinous child with the compassion-driven desire to adopt or foster a child (of course, fostering is in many juridictions a source of income, and some more-or-less stay-at-home moms make a living off fostering several children at a time).  In my view, on the other hand, all three paths are positive, if not always, yet potentially for those women (and husbands or lovers or anonymous sprem donors) who make a choice either of three ways in this matter.  Why the desire for a consanguinous child, "blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh," shoud suffer such an ignominous and discrciminatory put-down from either lord or lady, is beyond my Christian comprehension.  Alton and Williams seem to be consumed by a discriminatory passion (irrationality) and an invididous desire of their own, to social engineer (rationality technologically driven in its own way).  Like all social planneers, they strenuously object to loss and waste, according to their own parameters.  Yet, while IVF medical technology is indeed just that, it isn't dominated by controlling women's desires, and the choices of technical-medical assistance they can nowadays make between IVF impregnation and birth (you don't hear of a deeply chosen IVF procedure where over her 9 months a woman then reverses course and instead of the birth of her child then chooses an abortion).

Now in the case of Alton's and Williams' social engineering rationality where the desire for IVF consanginous birth is to be re-directed to second and third and perhaps fourth options of adoption (open only to certain classes of persons and couples in her view) and fostering (where a pecuniary motive enters in, except for the very rich perhaps) and, of course, working in an orphanage (which they don't have the courage to mention).  In comparison to such socially-engineered re-direction of parenthood for a woud-be mother who has difficulty in actually getting pregnant, let's consider nature.  As Carl Sagan pointed out, nature is supremely profligate in many species in generating eggs in super-abundance above what nature (God's creation) permits to be born or grow past infancy.  The ratios of eggs to births to self-sustaining young is astounding, and it implies that loss and waste are natural.  So, natural-law theorists have a problem moving from technological solutions (rationality) to biotic-psychic natural patterns (irrationality, nonrationality, prerationality modally speaking — Herman Dooyeweerd).  This points to an underlying antinomy in thinkers like Alton and Williams  — stout advocates of social engineering to get a woman's desire for a consangine child off-track and re-directed toward adoption and fostering (both very worthwhile and praiseworthy endeavours, but neither without their own inherent problems, along with those of consanguinity).

I hate to think of the nightmare called to mind by the spectre of a bureaucracy of crats devoted entirely to persuading or conditioning potential mothers with consanguine desires being re-channeled to socially-perferred adoption and fostering.  It too much calls to mind the parallel of a bureaucracy devoted to talking mothers into abortions in such agencies as Planned Parenthood.  The coercive tilt of all such bureaucracies around life and death (the medical professions, for instance) overlooks the stark fact that the employees of such institutions all have a vested interest in keeping their industrial numbers up. (I leave aside here the whole problem with single mothers raising fatherless child/ren.  Sometimes, it's better to kick the natural father or a step-father out of the house and one's life, than to permit the perpetrator to continue abuse. But only select women can afford to do so.  And then there's their loneliness. Yet, fatherlessness, motherlessness both remain shadow phenomena for which an as-yet not-totally engineered society must seek ameliorative methods of halfway solutions, manned and womanned by social workers, another bureaucracy devoted again to keeping their own numbers up and keeping up the numbers of their caseloads.)

— Albert Gedraitis

Please see the critical note that I have interspersed into the text of the news article I found on the UK online publication Christian Concern, associated closely with the work of lawyer-activist Andrea Williams.  On another but related note, here is the opening blurb on the website IVF Canada.
IVF Canada is a free-standing surgical facility which integrates the most advanced techniques available for the treatment of infertility in both men and women. We are leaders in the field of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART). Our clinic offices are located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

IVF Canada (Jan4,2k13)

— Albert Gedraitis

Christian Concern (Jan4,2k13)

IVF treatment in UK results in 

loss of nearly 3 million embryos

Published: January 4th, 2013 

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Official statistics show that almost 3 million embryos in the UK have been lost as a result of IVF treatment.  [IVF = In vitro fertilization]
The figures, gathered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), reveal that more than 3.5 million embryos were created through IVF since August 1991. 
Of these, almost 1.4 million were implanted in the womb but less than than 1 in 6 resulted in a pregnancy.
Nearly 1.7 million were disposed of unused, and a further 23,480 were thrown away after being placed in storage.
In addition, nearly 840,000 were stored for future implantations, with nearly 5,900 set aside for scientific research and more than 2000 for donation.
Lord Alton, a Crossbench peer, commented that embryos were being created and discarded in “industrial” numbers.
He added: “It happens on a day-by-day basis with casual indifference. This sheer destruction of human embryos – most people would not know that it took place on such a scale”.
An HFEA spokesman said: “IVF involves the creation of more embryos than are transferred to the patient so that the best ones can be chosen to start pregnancy.
“Those embryos that are discarded may no longer be needed by the individual or couple for treatment.
“In these circumstances they can decide whether to donate the embryos to a research project, another couple or ask the clinic to destroy them.”
The above portion of the CC article is informationally valuable in itself.  However, a supplementary set of statements is taggedf onto it in the interest of the anti-abortion view of CC and its Chief Executive, lawyer Andrea Williams.  She is a dynamic force in many activist programmes in the UK that I admire and wish to encourage, not least her campaigns and sponsored court cases to enhance religious liberty in the UK -- so she certainly has a right to attach to the forgoing medical news article the materials below which amount to an embedded slant which woud deny to a woman her right to determine whether to bring to birth or not; the supplementary material follows the preset pattern of her anti-abortionism as she seeks to conceptualize it christianly. To me, this is a principial matter and the Willimas slant, tho common enuff, is an insensitive rejection of the sphere sovereignty of each woman over her reproductive organs and the outcome of impregnation, for whatever reasons are meaningful to her (that's my slant).  In this, I believe I am a good student of Abraham Kuyper and Herman Dooyeweerd, tho with outcomes to my analysis that may not have been theirs in their own searches inprevious generations for a radically Christian philosophy.  This is not the place to debate to debate Williams or anyone else on an overly traditionalistic shortcoming. The article is not signed, so I assume it is hers, tho it refers to her(self?) in the third-person, citing as sources Life News and The Telegraph.  But with the above caveat, I set off her further presumed self-referential remarks below:
— Albert Gedraitis
Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern, stated: “These new figures expose the huge scale of loss and waste that occurs as a result of IVF treatment in the UK. It’s time for this issue to be addressed.
“Embryos are not products but human lives. We cannot let our ‘on-demand’ culture affect our view of human life and allow this destruction of human life to continue.
“For every child born as a result of IVF, several human lives are lost. This price is too much to pay, particularly when so many British children are waiting to be adopted or fostered”.

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