In vitro fertilization consists of fertilizing human eggs outside the womb after which a fraction of the resulting embryos are placed in the womb. Most IVF babies who are placed inside a woman die before implantation or birth, but an even greater proportion are not even given this small chance of life. The majority of IVF babies die either in the petrie dish, or during the freezing and thawing procedures if they are stored, or in the course of destructive "health"-driven experimentation.

The cold statistics from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta indicate that, in 1999, some 21,501 children were born in the U.S. using in vitro fertility treatments and other similar assisted reproductive techniques. In order to achieve the 21,501 births, 86,822 assisted reproductive technique cycles were used with on average 3 to 4 embryos transferred per cycle - or about 304,000 in total. That`s an excess of some 285,000 human beings, now considered disposable! Undoubtedly, with the ever increasing popularity of assisted human reproduction methods like IVF, the 2002-03 figures would be significantly higher than those shown here.

The IVF process almost always involves the freezing of 'extra' embryos which may (and often are) then be used in destructive medical research. IVF has resulted in the deaths of countless live human embryos, as they are artificially created, screened, implanted, frozen and used for experimentation. It is in fact estimated that 1 million born babies have been conceived worldwide through IVF since Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby, was born in 1978 after being carried, as an embyro, inside a rabbit before insertion into her mother's womb.

The IVF process, notwithstanding its current popularity with women who desperately want to give birth (think of Céline Dion), is not without its inherent dangers. Here in Canada the Royal Commission on Reproductive Technology found that the industry is not informing women of the technology`s health risks. For instance, women undergoing IVF are generally exposed to drugs used to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. The drug regimen can create a condition known as 'Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome' (OHSS), in which the ovaries swell to an enormous size and fluid leaks from the blood system into body cavities...triggering a stroke. Medical reports show mild OHSS in 23% of IVF and severe OHSS in 10% of the cases. Additional consequences to women from the drugs used in IVF are ovarian cysts and the possibility of developing cancer.

The British medical journal The Lancet and another reliable source reported just last January (1) that a rare form of eye cancer - retinoblastoma - is about six times as likely to occur among children who were conceived artificially; and (2) IVF children were at about five times greater risk of the rare genetic Beckwith-Wiedermann syndrome, causing excessive growth and increased cancer risk. Someone ought to tell women seeking IVF treatment that no matter what precautions they take, and no matter how much money they spend, they can only fool Mother Nature some of the time.

A team of Australian medical researchers recently published a paper (entitled, The Risk of Major Birth Defects after Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection and in Vitro Fertilization) reporting results of their investigations on births, births after assisted conception, and major birth defects in infants born between 1993 and 1997. The study revealed that 75 of the 837 infants conceived with in vitro fertilization (9.0 percent) had a major birth defect diagnosed by one year of age, as compared with 168 of the 4000 naturally conceived infants (4.2 percent). In other words, it found that in vitro fertilization has twice as high a risk of a major birth defect as naturally conceived infants.

For too long, the reproductive technology industry has experimented on women`s bodies, showing a cavalier attitude to short- and long-term effects on women`s health. IVF is not empowering women but exploiting them as living laboratories for the benefit of researchers. And women continue to suffer untold and unknown side effects from IVF and immense psychological trauma, especially in the usual case of failure to deliver a live baby.

No civilized society should allow some children to be killed because they do not fit a pre-conceived ideal or cannot be nurtured. However, that`s exactly what is happening in IVF clinics worldwide. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is a technique used during the in vitro fertilization process to test for the presence of certain inherited genetic disorders in human embryos. Disorders currently detectable include cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis allows parents to request the destruction of embryos with these disorders. Here, folks, is a diagnosis that is more than quality control; it is a heinous brand of eugenics.

Indicative of the pit of evil and depravity our social elite has fallen into, is the high praise given by mainstream media to IVF of Canada for offering "genetic screening" of embryos. This clinic offers IVF for couples who are actually able to conceive naturally, so their children can be tested for diseases and disabilities before being implanted - in other words, so the undesirable ones can be weeded out. Eureka! We can now design our children to our own liking. Such wanton disregard for the dignity of human life is scandalous. We`re obviously here way past the slippery slope - more like in an ethical free-fall.

The Vatican proclaims unequivocally that in vitro fertilization is inherently immoral as a way of creating life, because it denies the God-given right every child has to be created within the context of a loving relationship between mother and father. It also, of course, dehumanizes the child and treats her as a product. The Pope further decries the existence of 24,000 frozen embryos in Italy alone as "a veritable army of human beings in baths of liquid nitrogen." He asks us to consider the plight of thousands of frozen embryos held captive in appropriately called "concentration cans." As with him, the captivity of these frozen embryos in "scientific" institutes all over the world should instill great horror in anyone who recognizes that these embryos are as much human persons as we ourselves are and bear the same incomparable dignity. They are frozen embryos we must acknowledge as our brothers and sisters in mankind; indeed, as our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

Further shameful evidence of how far our commodification of human life in its fragile beginning has progressed, is illustrated in a measure proposed last February, by the New Jersey government, which would require doctors and other medical professionals to have couples spell out in a legally binding document what should happen to their embryos in the event they don't use them. The options? They could donate them for scientific research, leave them to the surviving spouse, donate them to another person or couple, or order them to be destroyed!

As Knights, we must not shrink from our responsibility to educate the public on the evil nature of in vitro fertilization and to impress upon IVF clinic operators that God is God, and that they are not! Twenty-first-century society stands at a moral crossroads. One fork could lead to eugenic chaos where what is scientifically possible becomes morally acceptable; the other has visible warning signs and prohibitions, the product of centuries of religious and moral reflection. "Science has set before us decisions of immense consequences," President Bush said. "We can pursue medical [wonders] with a clear sense of moral purpose, or we can travel without an ethical compass into a world we could live to regret."

Thaddée Renault

New Brunswick, Canada

September 10, 2003


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