This week, LifeTalk co-hosts Mark Crutcher, Renee Hobbs, Melissa Conway, and Elizabeth McClung examine what happens when human Life is approached as a commodity to be manipulated and even discarded at will.
First up: “gender shopping.” Singer John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen admitted to selecting “the girl” during their in vitro fertilization (IVF) process. Teigen, 30, told People magazine: “Not only am I having a girl, but I picked the girl from her little embryo. I picked her and was like, ‘Let’s put in the girl.’” Teigen’s attitude speaks to the commodification of the preborn which has become rampant in the field of assisted reproductive technologies. While techniques like IVF are now ubiquitous among wealthy couples who can’t (or choose not to) conceive naturally, their use is troubling and has led to myriad ethical dilemmas of which Pro-Life advocates should be cognizant.
For example, as Teigen underscored, IVF usually involves the creation of multiple children. This is primarily because the method’s success rate is low; multiple embryos must often be implanted into a woman’s uterus for only one to “take,” or attach to her womb and grow. But then what if, say, all three embryos thrive unexpectedly, but the parents are not open to carrying multiples to term? Enter selective reduction abortions, which are used to eradicate unwanted siblings from a multiple pregnancy achieved by IVF.
Some parents feel entitled to kill babies of an undesired sex or use IVF expressly for the purpose of choosing the desired sex and discarding the embryos bearing the unwanted sex. Activists in Australia argue that parents who already have two children of one sex are entitled to ensure that the sex of a third baby is determined to suit their desires. The acquisition of a girl or boy child in this case is devoid of the notion that a child is a gift; instead, children are treated as commodities created for no other reason than to fulfill the desire of a parent.
And lest we think sex-selection is a rare occurrence, consider the willingness of this Planned Parenthood abortion mill in Texas to help a mother arrange to kill her preborn child if he or she was discovered to be the undesired sex. Similarly, “designer babies” follow the commodification trend. Crutcher recalled a story in which concert pianists aborted their preborn child because he or she was missing a thumb and (they believed) would be unable to replicate their own musical abilities. The principle behind this approach is that children exist to fulfill the desires of adults, and they have no intrinsic value or purpose as individuals.
Scientists are also guilty of using human embryos as a means to an experimental end. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently gunning for taxpayer funding of human-animal chimera research. This research would combine human and animal DNA without a clear understanding of whether the end result would respect the dignity of human Life. Texas Right to Life Legislative Director, John Seago, cautioned Pro-Lifers to scrutinize the proposal, saying: “The most obvious and clear-cut reason that the Pro-Life movement must oppose this research is because the use of human embryonic stem cells.” Seago continued:
…the guidelines allow what President Obama authorized in 2009 when he rescinded a previous Pro-Life executive order. Since 2009, taxpayer dollars are regularly spent on some anti-Life research that uses stem cells taken from unwanted embryos donated from IVF. Now this NIH proposal would expand the type of embryonic stem cell research that taxpayers fund. Since all embryonic stem cell research requires the destruction of an individual human being, Pro-Lifers cannot endorse these projects.
The bottom line for the anti-Life movement is that an unborn child’s humanity is a non-issue in the consideration of whether or not to conduct a procedure that would harm or destroy him. Indeed, National Organization of Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill encapsulated this chilling sentiment when she was asked last month whether she would still support abortion if she knew that Life began at fertilization. “Of course I would,” she said. In fact, to the host’s comment that he wished he knew when Life began, O’Neill stated, “I don’t care.”
She doesn’t care. And that is the essence of the anti-Life position.