Were you in one of the 12 states that held primaries or caucuses last night? If so, I’d love to hear your impressions. There is much that I could say about this campaign season, but for now, I think we can all agree that we need to be in deep prayer for our country.
For example, just today the Supreme Court will be hearing the most significant abortion case in nearly 25 years. The new case involves a 2013 Texas law that imposes modest requirements on abortion providers designed to protect the health and welfare of women.
Tim Goeglein, my Focus colleague who has an office just behind the high court, emailed me this morning describing the chaotic frenzy outside on the sidewalk. “The rally is almost as large as the Obergefell one,” he writes. “The shouting and rally has gone on now for two hours and the hearing doesn’t begin for another hour and fifteen minutes.”
Please be in prayer for the hearing, especially given the likelihood of a divided court made even more so since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Indeed, the issue of the sanctity of life is almost always in the news, in some form or fashion. Why? It touches so many areas of our culture.
In fact, just last week model Chrissy Teigen, who has been open about her battle with infertility, revealed she had asked her doctor to implant a female embryo during her IVF treatment. She said she wanted to give her husband, singer John Legend, a daughter.
Infertility is a sensitive subject and one that has brought many couples years and years of sorrow. Many suffer in silence, ashamed and embarrassed. My heart breaks for those who so desperately desire a child but who are unable to conceive.
So when I saw the story of Chrissy and John, my heart went out to them. Yet, the story is an example of just how far the ethics of life can reach.
“I picked the girl from her little embryo,” Teigen said. “I think I was most excited and allured by the fact that John would be the best father to a little girl… I think he deserves a little girl.”
A firestorm of sorts soon erupted over the decision to use gender selection. Some pointed out the dangers of using IVF to create “designer babies.” Their concern? That IVF science presents a tempting slippery slope to parents and doctors. It starts with selecting the most viable embryos and the gender. Then against certain diseases or conditions. Will we soon select for traits like eye color, intellect or athleticism? Where will it stop?
Beyond the possibility towards eugenics, there are also ethical concerns regarding the way certain IVF procedures treat embryos (which are, of course, human life). Many times, doctors create numerous embryos that are likely to die or be frozen for an indefinite period of time. Other times, embryos are destroyed.
Here at Focus, we hear from many couples who desperately want to conceive a child. They love the Lord and believe “children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Many of these couples ask for advice as they consider IVF. Here’s a brief overview of what we share with them:
1. Do everything possible to protect young human life.
In order to protect against the unethical consequences possible with IVF, we believe doctors should only create the number of embryos that can be safely implanted in the mother’s uterus. All embryos are then implanted at the time they are produced – none are frozen for future IVF cycles. This helps ensure the embryos will be protected.
2. Keep the IVF process within marriage.
Some additional moral concerns related to IVF can be mitigated by ensuring that the technology is only used by a married couple with no third-party involvement with donor sperm, donor eggs, or surrogacy.
It is also important to ensure that the couple undergoing IVF is given full information regarding the process (including risks to the mother, the embryo(s), and chance of success) prior to beginning the treatment.
3. Consult with a Christian clinic.
If possible, we advise couples considering in-vitro fertilization to consult a Christian fertility specialist. This will help ensure the doctor will hold to pro-life values and better understand the couple’s concerns.
During your visit, the most pertinent questions to ask a provider would be 1) Will you agree to create only those embryos that will be implanted at one time, with none to be held frozen in reserve? and 2) What are the risks to the embryos that will be created? These questions get to the heart of the pro-life issue and will ensure every effort is made to preserve life.
4. Pray about the process.
Technology like in-vitro fertilization brings with it questions that are difficult to resolve, even when couples take sensible precautions and seek to meet the highest ethical standards. It’s also an issue not specifically addressed in the Bible. That’s why we advise the couples who call us to sincerely pray as they consider this option as well as perhaps seeking guidance from their pastor or a Christian counselor.
To learn more about the ethical questions surrounding IVF, I recommend you read a two-part series from our trusted friend, Dr. Albert Mohler, “Christian Morality and Test Tube Babies.” Part one and part two are available online.
And please do let me know how you’re feeling about the election thus far, won’t you?