Monday, May 21, 2007

Whatever Happened to Tearing Our Clothes?

Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days.
Genesis 37:34 ESV
I hear pastors and Christians talking about abortion and its evils often, but I rarely hear anyone addressing the evils of fertility treatments, particularly invetro fertilization (IVF).

Here is a very brutal description of the reality that often encounters fertility treatments:
Now Emma was on the table, and everybody was looking at four fetuses on the sonogram. The screen had been turned so that even Emma could see it. Evans decided that in addition to B, he would eliminate D, because of its position, farthest from the cervix, and most accessible after B. Just now, on the sonogram, D happened to be visible, moving and waving. "D is really active. That's what I hate to see," said Jane, who had woken up in the middle of the night worried about the "karma of what we are doing."

Evans prepared two syringes, swabbed Emma with antiseptic, put the square-holed napkin on her stomach. Then he plunged one of the needles into Emma's belly and began to work his way into position. He injected the potassium chloride, and B, the first fetus to go, went still.

"There's no activity there," he said, scrutinizing the screen. B was lying lengthwise in its little honeycomb chamber, no longer there and yet still there. It was impossible not to find the sight affecting. Here was a life that one minute was going to happen and now, because of its location, wasn't. One minute, B was a fetus with a future stretching out before it: childhood, college, children, grandchildren, maybe. The next minute, that future had been deleted.

Evans plunged the second needle into Emma's belly. "See the tip?" he said, showing the women where the tip of the needle was visible on the ultrasound screen. Even I could see it: a white spot hovering near the heart. D was moving. Evans started injecting. He went very slowly. "If you inject too fast, you blow the kid off your needle," he explained.

After Evans was finished injecting, D moved for a few seconds, then went still. Now, as we watched, there was something called the effusion: a little puff. "When I see that effusion, I know it's done," Evans said, taking "one last look at D before I come out," to make sure D was gone.
This is an excerpt from a Washington Post article called "Too Much To Carry." I recommend anyone interested in the plight of human life to read it and educate yourself on what is taking place in our country.

The article points out that pregnancies of three or four are often achieved accidentally by fertility treatments. The physician will then recommend to the couple that they eliminate the pregnancy down to twins to protect the remaining babies and the health of the mother. These eliminations often don’t take place until after 12 weeks when it is easier to inject a lethal poison into the beating heart.

I fervently believe that any procedure which has the potential of putting a couple in that kind of moral dilemma, is never under any circumstances right. We have to ask ourselves what is the most compassionate position that we should have towards infertile couples. Is it compassionate for the church to teach that fertility treatments are wrong? I think the answer is a resounding yes! Here is just one angle of why it would be compassionate to urge an infertile couple not to seek fertility treatments.
The long-term psychological consequences of reduction are still little understood. According to Isaac Blickstein, one of the world's experts on multifetal pregnancies, the studies that have been done suggest that the after effects of selective reduction are different from those of abortion. In general, parents feel better after the reduction is over. But grief can return, postpartum, as parents contemplate the babies they have, and think about the one, or ones, they lost. One study found that one-third of women who underwent selective reduction reported persistent depression a year later. At two years, most were feeling better. But, Blickstein notes, "psychoanalytic interviews with women who underwent [selective reduction] describe severe bereavement reactions including ambivalence, guilt, and a sense of narcissistic injury, all of which increased the complexity of their attachment to the remaining babies."

"Complexity of their attachment to the remaining babies" seems an apt way to put it. I encountered this one day when I was interviewing a mother who had reduced triplets to twins. "In some ways, the selective reduction becomes harder to deal with after the babies are born," the mother said. "They are babies with personalities, and you become attached to them, and you think: I could have ended up with one of these being gone, and the one that is gone could have been one of these."

"Now that I know my two daughters, looking at them, I think: It could have been you," she continued. "You terminated an embryo that could have turned into a baby you would love as much as the ones that you have, and that's hard."
Infertility should not be a private matter that a Christian couple struggles with on their own and that the church has no business addressing. It is a grave matter of life and death and we do no one a favor to pretend it isn’t wrong, especially the helpless children.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. 12 If you say, "Behold, we did not know this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
Proverbs 24:11-12 ESV
It is sometimes hard for us to know how we can rescue babies when the means of their death are increasingly available, private, inexpensive, and convenient. But articles like the one above remind us that these procedures will never cease to be brutal and even murderous. Exposing the evil and being grieved by it, tearing our clothes, is at least a beginning.

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