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Selling Our Souls to Trade In Ova, Sperm and Fetal Parts



James V. Schall, S.J. - published on 07/31/15

When everyone is a commodity, there is no value placed on an individual life

“Fertility clinics generally charge between $12,000 and $20,000 for each donor-cycle, a week-long process, which, with the help of hormones, can yield more eggs that the one or two normally released by a woman each month. About half of each payment goes to the doctor…. More than 9,500 babies were born from embryos created with donor eggs in 2013….”
—Ashby Jones, “Putting a Price on a Human Egg,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2015.

“In a new video just released by the Center for Medical Progress, a former clinical worker at Stem-Express described her job of identifying pregnant women who met certain criteria for fetal tissue orders and to harvest bodily parts after their abortions.”
—Austin Ruse, “Planned Parenthood Investigation,” Breitbart, July 28, 2015.

The Canadian journalist, David Warren, reflecting on Canada’s single-sex marriage laws, stated that the two immediate consequences of such laws are: 1) that every “marriage” relation is now legally “a homosexual one” and 2) that, considered in the light of “civil rights," the traditional view, that marriage is exclusively related to begetting, will be excluded as bigotry. Once marriage is defined as primarily a “friendship” or a “love” with no necessary relation to children, as laws in several countries, including our own, already specify, it follows that what is called “sex” is sterile. It has no intrinsic relation to children. No place is left for that one relation that does relate to children.

This was Warren’s point. To insist that marriage must relate to children is thus “prejudice," a depriving of “dignity” and “rights” for those who claim to be “married” but in a relationship incapable of begetting actual human children. These two words, “rights” and “dignity," lose any relation to the beginning of human life. They become constructs to mean whatever we want them to mean. “Dignity” becomes a tool to reduce reality to meaninglessness. If I, as a male, decide to become a female, my “dignity” is violated by insisting that I remain a male whatever my desires tell me. The fact that my declaring myself female does not allow me to conceive makes no difference. I am what I want to be, not what I am born to be.   

Ideas are not static. Once ideas are propounded, they are either coherent or not. If something is even in the slightest wrong in the formulation of an idea or in its relation to the reality it purports to describe, this error will be either corrected or carried out to its logical conclusion by some other thinker. Ideas have “consequences," Richard Weaver famously said. “Consequences produce ideas,” Owen Chadwick also pointed out. Thus, if I claim that “contraception will reduce abortion," that is an “idea." If someone points out that inexpensive, wide-spread usage of contraception saw abortions increase, not decrease that is a “consequence." It indicates either that the first idea was not valid, or that a more drastic solution is called for.

How are we to think about these things? Here, we will consider some ideas about human reproduction. To begin with, although it is a nice story, children are not delivered by storks. The human race does not consciously “put” itself into existence. Death is life’s ending. Every hundred years, usually less, the entire population of the planet is replaced. Almost none of the individuals alive today were living a century ago. Human couples are constantly replacing themselves through new births. Some one hundred billion human beings have thus far lived on this planet, of which some seven billion are currently alive. We cannot know what we are without knowing what we have been. We do not know how long our existence on this planet will continue. We assume that it will be too long a time to bother about.

The “arrangement” by which new human lives came into existence was not a product of human ingenuity or science. It was already in existence when men began to think about it. They thought about what was already in place and functioning. Basically, the human race is divided into two sexes, male and female. Both are rational and human. But they do not and cannot do the same thing when it comes to originating new human life. They are complementary; their very difference causes the unity from which new life is born. Though the number of male births is slightly higher than those of females, their numbers are roughly the same. Males tend to die earlier than females.

Any child has first to be begotten of a male and a female component. Male-male, female-female relationships, however contorted, are intrinsically sterile. They cannot be what marriage is. Properly speaking, such relationships have nothing to do with bringing new children into the world so that the world can continue in new life down the ages. Marriage can only exist between a male and a female. Without the possibility of children or relation to them, male and female relations mean nothing in terms of actual consequences in the form of a human child. The word “marriage” in the proper sense can only mean this relationship that results or can result or did result in children.

The Wall Street Journal (July 27, 2015) carried a report of a court case that concerned the “price” of a human ovum provided by young women to “fertility” clinics. The question had to do with whether the price was too little or too much. Evidently it varied between $5,000 and $15,000 depending on expected “qualities” of looks, intelligence, and other expected criterion in the resultant child. The idea that we can put a “price” on selling ova and donor sperm strikes one as a modern form of slave market. Human life should be given and received freely in an atmosphere in which it can flourish for what it is. The very idea of pricing such realities should be sufficient to tell us something is wrong with it.

This “business” of selling human ova, and a pari of providing male sperm donors, would not be feasible unless a technology existed whereby conception outside the womb was possible. The first human baby conceived outside the womb was Louise Brown in Australia in 1978. The effort to produce children outside the womb is itself the product of people thinking that they should have children even when they cannot be conceived naturally.

It is also due to scientific curiosity, and, in many cases, speculations about improving the “quality” of human beings through scientific breeding analogous to racing horses. This idea was already found in Plato. In the Republic, parents were not supposed to know who their children were nor were children to know their parents. The family was seen as an organ of injustice. Often modern reproductive clinics seek to reproduce this sort of anonymity.

However, in any reasonable order, children should know exactly who their parents are, and parents should know that this child is theirs. In fact, with DNA, any child’s parentage can now be exactly identified, something with enormous legal consequences. This possibility allows artificially begotten children to claim support of their real parental origins. Ova and sperm sellers and donors have to think twice about the real consequences of their acts that seem at first sight to involve only passing economics.

Children are begotten outside marriage. Today they can be inseminated outside the womb of a female. Surrogate mothers can also be hired to carry a child that is not hers to termination. This possibility too can cause legal issues as to who is the real or effective mother. In the case of artificial insemination, many female eggs are usually fertilized and implanted, but only a few will survive. This is why we see quintuplets born; sometimes many fertilized eggs remain alive in the womb. But many fertilized eggs are either discarded or frozen. The business of artificial insemination has its origins in efforts to enable presumably childless couples to conceive. The reasoning on this issue seems at first simple enough. We have a “right” to have children. Therefore, if what normally happens does not take place, we can find an alternate way.

Reason does not approach this issue in this manner. What comes first is not the “right” of an individual or a couple to have a child. There is no such “right." What exists is a freedom to marry; in which “marriage” means a relationship wherein the begetting of children is possible. It also includes the relation of grown children to their aging parents. This “possibility” of new life includes the raising of children in a stable home with their own identified father and mother from whose relation alone the child originated. Reasoning begins with the child and its needs; not with individuals and their “wants." It works backward to the parents and their relationship, a relationship that includes romance and their friendship as part of the atmosphere that makes the life of children better.   

Let us leave the issue of selling human ova and sperm as if it were just another commodity. Recent information about what happens to aborted fetuses being used to provide material for cosmetic, medical, or other usages brings up the same issue from another angle. Since 1980, the world has seen some one billion, three hundred million abortions. That is an astounding figure. Under the pressure of what are called “human rights," the law has largely failed to consider what goes on here. Today, no scientific evidence is left of the argument that what happens in conception is not the killing of a real human being. Abortion “clinics” sell or donate aborted fetuses. They are used for commercial or other “humanitarian” purposes. In logic, it is impossible to deny that what is being used is the body of an actual human being. That fact that what is sold is human is what makes its exchange valuable.

Thus, we have at one end the selling of ova and sperm along with the issue of the disposition of those infants killed in abortion. As they have no “rights," they can be sold for one reason or another. Meanwhile, Justice Ginsburg, of the Supreme Court, argues that we should kill children of the poor as we cannot or will not take care of them. In Britain we hear also that there are too many elderly citizens who have no purpose. We have proposals for “euthanasia vans” that go around getting rid of useless old people who are cluttering up our cities. All of these lives were once thought to be worthy of the protection of the law and the concern of the polity. Johann Schellnhuber of the Potsdam Institute proposes that we reduce the world population to less than a billion.

What is the meaning of all these interrelated “ideas” from selling ova and human fetuses to reducing world population by six billion by getting rid of the poor and the elderly? It signifies a radical shift in the center of our thinking from the worth of each human person to the presumed viability of the planet. What counts now are not individual persons. They are the problem. What counts is what the planet is able to “sustain." And those who remain on it are an elite who have engineered the planet in such a way that it is only fit for their survival. The purpose of man’s existence is not eternal life, but keeping the planet viable for as long as possible. No individual persons have any transcendent meaning. “Humanity” includes only those who fit into the categories judged to be fit for a planet holding steady at around a billion individuals fortunate enough not to be eliminated because they were too young, too poor, too old, or too incompetent to be judged worthy of survival.

AbortionPlanned Parenthood
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