Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
God may or may not have created limbo so man, always eager to improve on God’s work, created it. Due to the widespread use of In Vitro Fertilization of which the Church does not approve, hundreds of thousands of “spare” or “extra” embryos now exist in a man-made refrigerated limbo.
This is nothing short of a horror. And of course, the natural question that comes to mind is: Can they be rescued? While our instincts to preserve life might make the answer seem easy, it isn’t. According to Church teaching keeping the embryos frozen, implanting them in a woman’s womb, and destroying them are all immoral responses to a terrible situation.
Dignitas Personae, the CDF’s 2008 instructions on bioethics states that “All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved.”
Some people have adopted these embryos and hundreds of babies have been born due to embryo adoption but the Church doesn’t approve of surrogacy so what we have here is a philosophical and theological standoff with dire consequences. Ave Maria Law Professor Brian Scarnecchia recently said in an interview that some have suggested that “rescuing or adopting” a frozen embryo would not make the woman a surrogate if she intended to carry the child to term and adopt the baby.
Scarnecchia said that he’d even spoken to a nun who said that if embryo transfers were approved by the Church she’d consider founding an order of nuns dedicated to rescuing frozen embryos. At once, that would seem to me to be a loving and horrifying thought that would utterly redefine religious orders. But such is the theological pickle of fatal consequences we have found ourselves in.
But the desire to help is typical of Christians. We see humans in need and we want to help. We feel we’re called to help these human beings frozen in what some have called “concentration cans.”
And how many of us know wonderful couples who would love to have babies but for some reason have been unable to. We think wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to adopt these embryos, give birth to them, and love them. But by doing this wouldn’t we, in effect, be approving of the consequences of IVF and even supporting the creation of more of these embryos?
No matter the stance taken on the solution (if one is indeed possible) I think we can all agree with the admonition of Pope John Paul II who urged people to just stop creating embryos through IVF.
I’m interested in your thoughts.