Abortion

Hagar

Yesterday, many of you sent me a link to a CNN story by Elizabeth Cohen:

“Surrogate Offered $10,000 to Abort Baby” 

Here we see The Sarah Syndrome gone wild.

1 genetic father + 1 wife + 1 anonymous egg donor + 2 IVF embryos + 1 surrogate birthmother + 2 adoptive parents = 1 child alive, 1 child dead, and 1 social and legal mess

I am afraid of the fact that cases such as these are getting court time. The more court rulings that are made on sperm donor, IVF, and surrogacy cases, the more…I don’t know, I guess the more we formally and publicly despise, defile, and – God help us! – abandon the one-flesh union and adoption as the means of parentage in our country. And so may times the children involved in these cases are treated as property with no individual rights of their own.

We are different from the world, Baptized Christians. Always have been, always will be. Remember that.

Is IVF Healing Medicine?

I am an advocate of healing medicine, both traditional and nontraditional.

I daily take prescription medication to keep my already overactive pancreas from kicking out more insulin into my bloodstream. I then supplement my medication with lots of exercise and a low-glucose diet.

My most recent venture into healing medicine involved a short round of hormone therapy to help my doctor properly diagnose several masses that were growing in my abdomen. I then underwent surgery to remove a batch of endometriomas and accompanying scar tissue from around my colon, bladder, and ovaries. Next, came a six-month regimen of Lupron shots to kill off the residual scar tissue my doctor had to leave behind, and, on top of that, I now eat a mostly pescetarian (vegan with fish) diet on top of my low-glucose fare to avoid environmental hormones, additives, preservatives, gluten, and nutrients which may cause inflammation in my body.

In other words, I prefer my medical cocktail as follows: one part traditional, two parts nontraditional, shaken with ice, and then straight down the hatch.

Why am I over-sharing all of this with you? I want to make it clear that I am a champion of healing medicine. I believe it is part of the daily bread God provides for us and that it is good and right to try to make the body whole. I believe that we are free in Christ to take medicine and to undergo diagnostic tests and to have surgeries and to train for triathlons and to sit for acupuncture treatments and to avoid dairy (Oh, wretched cross that I bear!) and to drink liquified kale for the healing purposes of our flesh.

However.

Like the Apostle Paul, I believe that my freedom in Christ, whether applied to medicine or to circumcision or to meat-eating or to whatever, is intended by God to serve my neighbor, not myself.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 (ESV)

We are totally free in Christ to seek healing medicine in our barrenness, but that freedom is still intended to serve our neighbor, even the little neighbor we hope to conceive in our womb. For this reason, I do not consider in vitro fertilization (IVF) to be healing medicine, nor do I consider it to rest safely within the realm of Christian freedom.

IVF does not simply seek to make the body whole, but it seeks to create children for our own purpose and use, whether that be cherishing, rejecting, discarding, freezing, or even killing. This is not using our Christian freedom to serve our neighbor. It is using our freedom to serve ourselves at the expense of our neighbor.

Let me draw a clear picture for you. When children are created in a petri dish during IVF, those children have no rights of their own. They, at the whim of the parent*, can be:

  • graded by appearance for their viability,
  • genetically tested for their sex, chromosomal abnormalities, and diseases,
  • discarded (in some cases, literally flushed down the drain) for their potential flaws,
  • put on ice to be stored, used, adopted, donated, tested, or killed at the parent’s leisure,
  • inserted into potentially inhospitable conditions in utero,
  • and, if part of a multiple pregnancy, selectively terminated and sacrificed for the vitality of a perceived stronger brother or sister in the womb.

IVF does not serve these children (our neighbors!) through love, but, at best, disrespects the personhood of the children created, and, at worst, serves as the concentration camp of the fertility industry.

Please be certain, it is the procedures surrounding IVF, not the children that result, that I am calling into question. As I wrote in my book, “Whatever sin and controversies may surround IVF, the children that are conceived and born to us through such procedures are still a heritage from the Lord. These children do not cease to be blessings and gifts from God simply because of the method by which they were conceived. We are not to think of these children as anything less than human beings who are wanted and cherished by our Lord. God’s love is what makes any and every child valuable in this life, not the means of parentage. Whatever decisions and actions parents may regret, the children that result from such decisions and actions are to be celebrated as the precious treasures that they are.” (He Remembers the Barren, 44-5)

Dear sisters, you may have already made use of IVF thinking that it was healing medicine. You may feel confused, angry, even guilty, right now. Do not despair! Your help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:8) Christ, the Lamb of God, takes away the sin of the world. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19-20a ESV) Confess your regrets to your pastor to receive the peace of absolution, and let it be done to you as you believe.

* A frozen child’s right to life can also be at the whim of a government or a divorce court judge.

IVF: A Time to Mourn

Each January we are reminded of the millions of lives that have been lost through abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Our churches have been sent materials to help us recognize and discuss the importance of life during this time of year when we remember the monumental court ruling that removed the right to life from the most helpless of our society. I was encouraged this past November to see that the state of Mississippi was allowing its people to vote on whether they believed that life began at conception. There seemed to be so much support for the amendment and pro-lifers were optimistic about the outcome. But it failed. It’s not surprising that Planned Parenthood was working overtime in an attempt to “educate” the public and I’m sure had much influence with some of the voters. But what really got me was that the other group leading the fight against the measure were what some might consider “my own people.” Infertile couples and fertility clinics were frightened by the possibility that, as a result of this measure passing, IVF might also become illegal in their state.

The attitude that helped prevent this amendment from passing came across loudly and clearly in the blogosphere during the time prior to the vote. While most of the barren bloggers that I came across who were against the amendment demonstrated a common obsession with self-interest regardless of what the truth might be, at least they appeared to understand the significance of the statement that life begins at conception. For some reason they fully understood what takes place during an IVF procedure. Many well-meaning Christians do not.

Or maybe they do after all. A CNN article that came out in early November focused on one Christian family who seemed to know exactly what they were doing with IVF, and the possibility of having personhood assigned to embryos didn’t give them reason to pause and reflect about what they had already participated in. Rather, it prompted them to move up the date of their next procedure.

I wish I could have a conversation with this family. I’m curious about how they would justify what they were about to do. Would they point to some Scripture passages that guided them to this decision? Would they say that their pastor counseled them to go ahead with this plan? Or did they simply feel that this was the right thing to do? How do their consciences handle the risk they were taking, when statistically 65% or more of their fertilized embryos will die?

If life begins at conception, and if all life is valuable, why don’t we as a Church likewise mourn for those tiny lives who have been conceived through IVF and either discarded to die, frozen to death, or who simply “didn’t take,” meaning they lost their lives in the struggle for the survival of the fittest? Abortion sacrifices the life of an innocent child for the perceived rights of the mother to control her own body. IVF sacrifices the lives of many children for the hope of one healthy, viable child for a desperate couple. Is one situation any less tragic than the other?

Sisters, please help me with this issue. If you take offense somehow or feel that I don’t have all the facts, please contact me (Rebecca) through the “Submit a Question” section. I want to dialogue about this. I want to know more than I do. Do you have a pastor who supported your own decision to do IVF? If so, I would love to talk to him. I want to find out if I’m missing something. But if I’m not–if I’m right on the money here–then we all need to be engaging our churches more in this topic and helping to educate both pastors and lay people about the significance of our actions when we seek to step in as the creator of earthly life and eternal souls. We need to love and cherish those children in our churches who were conceived through IVF while helping their parents and other couples look for alternative ways to fill the voids in their hearts. We need to repent, confess, forgive, and participate in a unified life together in our congregations, where we all have a common understanding of and appreciation for the sanctity of all human life.

We mourn for the deaths in abortions. We mourn for the deaths in miscarriages and stillbirths. Let us also mourn for the deaths that occur in IVF–deaths that are completely preventable.

Interview on “Studio A”

Thank you to KFUO Radio and Roland Lettner for interviewing two of our site hosts on the “Studio A” program yesterday afternoon. We hope you’ll have a listen, too.

Click here for a direct link to the program’s MP3 file. (Our interview begins at 29:10.)

Or, if you would like to learn more about KFUO Radio and the “Studio A” program, click here. (To listen to our interview from this link, click on the hour 2 MP3 file of the Wednesday, September 7th broadcast. Our interview starts at 29:10.)