When a major news outlet incorrectly implies that Catholics think Test Tube babies are not children in the eyes of God, I must simply protest.

From USA TODAY:

‘Test tube babies’: God’s work or human error?

Do you think a baby conceived in test tube is still a child in the eyes — or mind or hands, depending on your theology/philosophy — of God?

Who is this “religious” expert in USA Today who asks us to discuss this proposition?

Can she cite a single article or opinion from a Catholic leader that has implied that a test tube baby is not a child, born in the image and likeness of God?

Because that is implied in the article, that cites Catholic opposition to “in vitro fertilization” (AKA IVF) but doesn’t explain what they believe or why they believe it.

The Catholic opposition to artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and artificial contraception is all related, based on the premise that the sexual act is the way adults mirror the love of God and that their “self giving”  to each other then extends to their giving life to their children.

A child born of rape, however, is still a child of God, to be protected and loved, and indeed, when the first test tube baby was born, the Pope sent his good wishes to the family, even though he disapproved of the way she was conceived.

This disapproval of manipulating embryos but insisting of loving and caring for these offspring isn’t limited to children conceived by IVF, but extends to those where the embryo is given extra genes (e.g. “three parent” embryos), and even to some chimera. The UK Bishops have declared that human/animal hybrids, where the embryo has a preponderance of human genes should be similarly protected out of respect for it’s possible human life.

In contrast, in the huge IVF industry, “imperfect” embryos are discarded, or unwanted ones languish in freezers, to see how callus society has become to it’s originally much wanted offspring.

When Pope Paul VI predicted the societal problems from destroying the linkage of loving sexuality from reproduction, he could be describing today’s world, with it’s easy abortion, rich countries pushing population control on poor countries, sexualized children, and single parents trying to raise children.

And his warnings that this would lead to children being seen not as a gift of God but a commodity to be bought or sold or discarded is seen in today’s news stories of poor Indian women becoming surrogates to rich westerners or the UK columnist who said she would smother a handicapped child, and being lauded for her honesty.

I must agree with bioethicist Arthur Caplan’s quote in the Washington Post:

“…Edwards unleashed a social, ethical and cultural tsunami that he could not have predicted and I don’t think anyone at the time could have anticipated,” said Arthur Caplan, a University of Pennsylvania bioethicist. “It opened so many doors that I’m not sure we even fully appreciate it today.”

So until we have a deeper discussion on the the “fruits” of manipulating embryos that discussion will lack insight that maybe mixed with the good of happy parents being able to have a much loved child, we must also consider the bad fruits from this technology.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs about human rights at MakaipaBlog.

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