Friday, July 12, 2013

Aborted Egg Cells For Sale: The Next Stage of Biotechnology

There are some things one would think that we all could agree is unethical. As biotechnology continues to push the proverbial envelope, new ethical questions are asked. Consider this new stage: is it ethical to take the egg cells of aborted baby girls and use them for in vitro fertilization treatments? If this is done, and the technology seems to be available now, then it will be possible for children to have biological a mother who where aborted by their biological grandmother.

The Daily Mail reports:

Scientists are ready to plunder the ovaries of aborted babies for eggs to use in IVF treatment. Experiments have taken the process almost to completion, it emerged yesterday. . . . 

The news, from a scientific conference in Madrid, was greeted with widespread revulsion at how far science is testing ethical frontiers.

Experts warned of appalling emotional and biological problems.
But fertility doctors say the development could ease a worldwide shortage of donated eggs for women who cannot produce their own.

Only last week a British clinic offered cut-price IVF treatment to women who agreed to donate eggs.
Scientists have known for some time that female foetuses develop ovaries after as little as 16 weeks in the womb.

Now researchers from Israel and the Netherlands have kept ovarian tissue from aborted foetuses alive in the laboratory for several weeks.

They stopped the experiment at the point where they believed eggs were about to be produced. Chief researcher Dr Tal Biron-Shental said it was 'theoretically possible' that with extra hormone treatment they could have produced mature eggs suitable for IVF use.

He claimed it would be ethically 'almost the same' as existing techniques.

Details of the major research programme were unveiled at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid.

Read the rest here.

The article goes on to highlight some of the ethical questions regarding the practice. Many point to the clear psychological damage this would do to the children that will be reproduced as a result. Nothing is said, however, regarding the dignity of human life. We must state clearly that image bearers are not experiments or commodities. Children are not investments in which we can demand perfection. The motivation behind the taking of egg cells is to take advantage of "good genes." Secondly, the article fails to address the broader issue of abortion. We are speaking of taking egg cells from aborted children. Let us not overlook that simple fact. The legalization of abortion has lead us down such dangerous roads. Children become products, not gifts.

Finally, consider John Stonestreet's take on this issue:

Too much of modern science proceeds as follows: things that are thinkable become possible, then they become actual, and, finally, they become expected, applauded as great goods for one and all. 

In this ethical space, obvious questions go unasked and loaded assumptions go unaddressed. Take, for example, the idea that there is “a worldwide shortage of donated eggs.” Prior to IVF, there was no shortage because it wasn’t even possible. Now there’s a shortage simply because there’s a demand. So if we want it, we deserve it?

And I can’t help but think one reason for the shortage is the estimated 160 million “missing women” in Asia alone—women who would be alive today if not for sex-selective abortion. The combination of ultrasound, abortion, and demand for male children has meant fewer women, and therefore, fewer eggs.

There’s also no mention of what may be the biggest factor driving the demand for IVF in the first place: postponing marriage and childbirth. The inescapable biological truth is that it’s harder to conceive and carry a child to term as a woman gets older. The “worldwide shortage of eggs” is a direct result of our demanding attitudes towards marriage and childbearing.

In short, this new direction in biotechnology automatically leads to the creation of orphans. God help us!

The Daily Mail - Should we take eggs from aborted babies?
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