Monday, July 1, 2013

One Child, Three Parents: What is Wrong with this Picture?

Scientists in the UK have found a way to make a child with three parents.

Yes, you read that correctly.

I wonder if this calls under Pope Paul VI's prophecies somewhere.

In any case, what is exactly wrong with this picture? Scientists have simply found a way for a woman who carries mitochondrial diseases to have a child who is biologically hers. We're only fixing a disease, right?

Let's start at the beginning: We have here a child conceived via IVF. IVF has many serious moral and practical implications. First of all, the success rate is rather poor and it's really, really expensive.  It also creates a life at the expense of others. Life starts at conception, right? Well, more lives are being conceived during IVF than ever see the inside of the mother's womb. The main reason why the Church does not approve of IVF, however, is that it separates sex from procreation. It turns procreation into something that is done impersonally in a lab. To read more, I recommend an article by one of my fellow Ignitum Today columnists, Bernard Toutounji. 

Problemo numero dos: A child's DNA is being messed with. A scholar interviewed by CNN in the original article points out: It crosses "the line that will eventually lead to a eugenic designer baby market." There are already ways for a woman to avoid passing her mitochondrial disease to her children in using a donated egg (see next problem below). The only thing this insures is that the child is genetically related to her. It is laudable to want to spare your child the pain of mitochondrial disease, but where do we draw the line? Let's say, someday scientist link being left-handed to a gene. Well, it's a right-hand world, so let's fix it. And my family needs more boys, so let's mess with the DNA to make sure I don't have any girls. And then we look at places like China with their one child policy and we see where this dystopia is heading. 

Egg donation: Directive 40:
Heterologous fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve conception by the use of gametes coming from at least one donor other than the spouses) is prohibited because it is contrary to the covenant of marriage, the unity of the spouses, and the dignity proper to parents and the child.
It's a form of infidelity to use someone other than your spouse to have kids. It degrades the other person by using their gametes as a tool. It's degrading to the child who does not have the opportunity to be raised by their biological parent.

Sometimes it seems as if we forget that children are human beings. They are not commodities. They are not the property of their parents. No one has the right to have a child at all costs. Children are human beings. They are gifts from God made in His image with incalculable dignity. We have the responsibility to raise them, shelter them, feed them, and keep them free from diseases. Yes, it is our moral imperative to keep our child healthy, but not to the expense of others.

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