Last week the world's first IVF baby, Louise Brown, celebrated her thirtieth birthday.
And since then, countless numbers of children have died, created as surplus embryos or found to be "defective" and eliminated or accidentally thawed before they could be implanted into a uterus or, perhaps most ghoulishly of all, selectively aborted so that "mom" wouldn't have to give birth to multiples.
It's one of the dilemmas of an increasingly illogical world: how do we oppose IVF without, in effect, telling Louise Brown and others like her that they really shouldn't be here at all?
For the person who has been formed in some sort of moral theology, there's really no problem. We can be happy that Louise Brown is here, and even wish her a happy birthday, without losing the moral ground to insist that IVF is always a grave moral evil. And there's an easy example to illustrate this--throughout history some children have always been conceived as a result of rape, but we can oppose the evil of rape with all the force of our laws without in effect telling those kids that they shouldn't be here.
God can, and does, bring good out of evil. Children whose parents used IVF to bring them into the world aren't at fault for the sins of their parents. We can welcome them and love them, while remaining clear in our opposition to this terrible practice.
And it is a terrible practice, in every respect. The injury possible to the mother whose ovaries must be forced to release eggs, the death toll for those embryos who fail to implant properly or who are unnecessary and unwanted once the desired number of pregnancies have resulted, the objectification and dehumanization of the unborn baby who is no longer an integral and expected result of his parents' marital embrace, but a laboratory product to be brought to birth or destroyed at the whim of others--there is no moral ground that can justify this practice, and no way that it ever ought to have been done.
That God does allow some children, like Louise Brown, to be born as a result of this evil is a sign of His great mercy--but for every child who comes into the world this way, how many more children must die?
A real respect for human life, for nature, for God's will is an intrinsically important element of any society. Once a society begins to commoditize and objectify human lives, manipulating them, creating and destroying them, removing from them their inherent mystery and dignity, that society is doomed to fail as surely as the family which no longer protects its members will be erased from the face of the earth.