LIFE DIGEST: IVF called 'crass consumerism'; more states opt out of abortion coverage
An Australian mother of three boys plans to travel to Thailand to select the sex of her next child to assure she has a girl -- meaning the male embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF) likely will have no future because they will not be implanted in her womb.
The news prompted American bioethics specialist Wesley Smith to give the following assessment of the state of IVF use:
"Increasingly, IVF is not about treating infertility, but about reducing reproduction to a crass consumer activity akin to choosing a breed of dog or model of flat screen television. This is objectification pure and simple. When we believe we are entitled not just to a child but to the kind of child we want, it strikes a body blow against unconditional love -- because by definition, it isn't."
The Australia mother, 36, and her husband, whose identities have not been disclosed, will spend more than $15,000 to assure only female embryos are transferred to her womb at a Bangkok fertility clinic, according to the Herald Sun, a Melbourne newspaper.
The Melbourne resident said her trip to Thailand is prompted by Australia's ban on using IVF and the screening technique known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for sex selection.
"It hasn't been a decision taken lightly but it is one we feel we have reached and we are happy with," she said, according to the Herald Sun.
"For me, it is about the desire to have a daughter being such a strong desire in me that I can't seem to shake it."
The couple's three sons are 5, 4 and 1 in age.
Smith said, "Of course, this means the male embryonic brothers of those treasured boys will be tossed out with the other medical waste. So, in this case, a Y chromosome is a deadly defect."
In other IVF-related news:
-- The Federal Supreme Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled that embryos produced by IVF may be tested for defects before implantation in a mother's womb. The court's July 6 decision favored a Berlin doctor who did not implant three couples' embryos who carried genes for hereditary defects. The court said the practice does not violate a law designed to protect human embryos.
-- A Connecticut fertility center was fined for implanting the wrong embryos in a woman. The tiny human beings wrongly implanted paid the greatest penalty, however. They were eliminated by the "morning-after" pill. The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services, which is part of the University of Connecticut Health Center, signed a consent order the week of June 20-26 agreeing to pay a $3,000 fine without admitting it was at fault in the mix-up, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported. When the woman who received the embryos learned the day after they were implanted about the mistake, she took the "morning-after" pill. That drug can block implantation of an embryo in the uterine wall, thereby causing an abortion.
LA., MO. OPT OUT -- Louisiana and Missouri have become the fourth and fifth states, respectively, to opt out of a provision in the new federal health care law that would require coverage for abortion in "insurance exchanges."
Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, signed the Louisiana legislation into law July 6. Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, allowed the Missouri bill to become law July 14 without his signature.
Arizona, Tennessee and Mississippi previously had enacted laws barring the use of federal funds for insurance plans that cover abortions. The Florida legislature passed a similar bill, but Gov. Charlie Crist, an independent, vetoed it June 11.
The health care reform measure signed into law by President Obama in March requires "insurance exchanges" in each state to offer at least one plan that covers abortion and one plan that does not. The law, however, allows states to opt out and bar insurance plans that cover abortions from participating in their exchanges.
The insurance exchanges are to be implemented in 2014.
The new Missouri law also strengthens the state's informed consent measure. Among the new provisions is a requirement that a woman be offered the opportunity to see an ultrasound of her unborn child.
BILL TARGETS CENTERS -- Recently introduced federal legislation to regulate advertising by pregnancy centers is "just another attempt to shut down the competition," according to Care Net, a network of more than 1,100 such centers.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D.-N.Y., introduced the Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women's Services Act, H.R. 5652, June 30, the same day Sen. Robert Menendez, D.-N.J., offered a companion bill in the Senate.
The measure would direct the Federal Trade Commission to issue new rules prohibiting advertising that intends to give the impression a center provides abortions when it does not. While many pregnancy centers are "forthright and respectful," Maloney said, "some take a more underhanded approach to lure in women seeking abortions by using tactics that should be illegal."
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-choice America, applauded the proposed legislation, saying many pregnancy centers "use deceptive and manipulative tactics." NARAL is one of the country's leading abortion rights organizations.
Care Net President Menlinda Delahoyde denied the charges, saying affiliates with her organization and other national groups, such as Heartbeat International and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, abide by a document that commits them to advertise and communicate truthfully.
"What's happening is that pregnancy centers have become an integral part of a community's support network for women and children," Delahoyde said. "With such holistic support available, women are empowered to choose abortion alternatives and the abortion industry simply doesn't like losing business."
GINSBURG: ROE WILL STAND -- The right to abortion found by the Supreme Court in the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion will not be nullified, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said recently.
"Over a generation of young women have grown up, understanding they can control their own reproductive capacity, and in fact their life's destiny," Ginsburg said in Aspen, Colo., according to Politico.com. "We will never go back to the way it once was."
Ginsburg, 77, has been a leading liberal on the high court since she was confirmed in 1993.
FEMINIST CALLS ABORTION 'LESSER EVIL' -- Antonia Senior is a feminist who believes life begins at conception. The reporter for The Times of London also believes killing an unborn child is a matter of choosing "the lesser evil."
"The nearly 200,000 aborted babies in the UK each year are the lesser evil, no matter how you define life, or death, for that matter," she wrote in a June 30 column in the British newspaper. "If you are willing to die for a cause, you must be prepared to kill for it, too."
On his blog, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said Senior's commentary "represents a moral earthquake."
"That statement, published for all the world to see, perfectly distills the inescapable logic of the abortion rights argument," Mohler wrote. "It is based on a willingness to kill -- and on the horrifying audacity to call this killing 'the lesser evil.'"
Senior once would have argued an unborn child is not a baby in his or her early stages in the womb. Having a baby herself, however, changed her viewpoint, she said. "My daughter was formed at conception, and all the barely understood alchemy that turned the happy accident of that particular sperm meeting that particular egg into my darling, personality-packed toddler took place at that moment," she wrote.
"Any other conclusion is a convenient lie that we on the pro-choice side of the debate tell ourselves to make us feel better about the action of taking a life," Senior said.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FRAUD CASE REINSTATED-- The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated a lawsuit charging abortion giant Planned Parenthood with overbilling the California government.
On July 1, a three-judge panel of the appeals court based in San Francisco unanimously overruled a federal judge who had decided a former Planned Parenthood employee was not qualified to bring a suit charging the organization with fraud, according to the American Center for Law and Justice. The case will go forward with the whistleblower's suit intact.
According to ACLJ, the former Planned Parenthood official charged California affiliates of the organization with illegally overbilling for birth control drugs when seeking reimbursement from the state government. The whistleblower estimated Planned Parenthood overcharged the state by at least $180 million, according to LifeNews.com.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode.