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Reproductive Technologies: Part 1

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LTCi teaching notes, based on Rae, Moral Choices

Published in: Spiritual, Health & Medicine
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Reproductive Technologies: Part 1

  1. 1. Reproductive Technologies Various medical technologies used to alleviate infertility (the inability of a couple to produce a child of their ownWednesday 7 September 2011
  2. 2. Infertility - the inability to have / conceive, children is a painful issue for Christians - for some the ability to have children is intertwined with their view of manhood and womanhood - it is as if part of their identity as a man or woman has been removed. Reproductive technologies offer childless couples the possibility of having a child to whom at least one of the parents is genetically related - previously adoption was the only Harsha Chawda is option. recorded as India’s The first “test-tube” baby was born in first IVF baby in 1985 England in 1978Wednesday 7 September 2011
  3. 3. Legally these new technologies pose many questions - which to date do not necessarily have a legal precedent. There are also “interesting” scenarios arising from the use of this technology - e.g. A man cannot produce sperm - his wife uses “anonymous” donated sperm to become pregnant. A doctor advises a couple in their early 40’s to save one of the womans eggs as with age there is increasing possibility of birth defects. A woman consistently miscarries - the couple hire another woman’s womb to carry their embryo to term - it has been formed in the lab from her egg and his sperm.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  4. 4. A lesbian couple have a baby using the egg of one of them and donated sperm. Two homosexual men want a child - they can donate sperm to impregnate a woman who carries the baby to term - or, purchase eggs and have them fertilised in the lab before being implanted into a surrogate mother. A single woman does not want to wait for marriage to have a child - at a fertility clinic she is inseminated and has a child.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  5. 5. A couple want a designer child - they advertise for an egg donor - over 1.78m, blond, blue eyes, athletic, high academic qualifications - will pay up to $50,000 for a batch of eggs. A couple have 3 girls - they now want a boy - and select male sperm to impregnate the woman. A 54 year old woman loses her son in an accident -s he is post menopause so she purchases an egg, uses her husbands sperm in vitro and has a doctor prepare her uterus hormonally for implantation.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  6. 6. A man in his mid 20’s has an accident resulting in brain injuries - before his life support is turned off his wife asks for a harvest of sperm so that she might have his child. Modern technologies are turning upside down traditional ideas of reproduction. What does the Bible say of this technology? (Most are not directly referred to in scripture). Do traditional teaching on marriage, family etc. Have any bearing on these issues?Wednesday 7 September 2011
  7. 7. A man in his mid 20’s has an accident resulting in brain injuries - before his life support is turned off his wife asks for a harvest of sperm so that she might have his child. Modern technologies are turning upside down traditional ideas of reproduction. What does the Bible say of this technology? (Most are not directly referred to in scripture). Do traditional teaching on marriage, family etc. Have any bearing on these issues?Wednesday 7 September 2011
  8. 8. Overview of technologies These range from minor, inexpensive treatments to major, expensive procedures. The success rate of each varies. 1. Intrauterine insemination - if the man has poor/inferior sperm it can be inserted into the womans uterus artificially, it is simple and pain free - along with fertility drugs it increases the chance of conception and of having twins, triplets etc.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  9. 9. 2. Donor Insemination - as for (1) but with donated sperm - legally the sperm donor can be identified by the child. 3. Egg Donation - a female version of (2) but more complex and costly - involving slight surgery after hormonal treatment to induce a greater egg harvest - fertilisation is in vitro or in the fallopian tube (along with sperm)Wednesday 7 September 2011
  10. 10. 4. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) - hormonal treatment for woman to induce multiple egg release - these are removed surgically and then combined with the mans sperm and placed in the woman’s fallopian tube - this gives a far higher chance of fertilisation and pregnancy. 5. In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) - woman receives hormone treatment, eggs harvested, man provides sperm - fertilisation is in the lab (not the woman’s body) - up to 4 embryos are then transplanted into the uterus in the hope of implantation.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  11. 11. 4. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) - hormonal treatment for woman to induce multiple egg release - these are removed surgically and then combined with the mans sperm and placed in the woman’s fallopian tube - this gives a far higher chance of fertilisation and pregnancy. 5. In vitro Fertilisation (IVF) - woman receives hormone treatment, eggs harvested, man provides sperm - fertilisation is in the lab (not the woman’s body) - up to 4 embryos are then transplanted into the uterus in the hope of implantation.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  12. 12. 6. Surrogate Motherhood - genetic surrogacy where a woman is impregnated with sperm of the man who will become the child’s father - the woman conceives, carries the baby, gives birth and then hands it over to the family. Gestational surrogacy - embryos are implanted into the woman but she has no genetic part in the child - all is provided by the couple who want a child. Commercial surrogacy involves a fee - altruistic surrogacy has no fee and is often done by family/friend who desires to help.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  13. 13. 7. Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection - more expensive and more reliable - inject a single sperm into an egg.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  14. 14. Moral boundaries in Reproductive Technologies Does having a family mean that almost any technological aid can be embraced? The RC church prohibits most uses of technology in reproduction. Some say only the husband and wife can provide genetic materials. As Christians where do we start and stop in our use of reproductive technology?Wednesday 7 September 2011
  15. 15. The Donor Sibling Registry Using this people conceived using donated eggs, sperm etc. Can contact their genetic families. Some countries have government registries in place and others require that donors give their identity in case recipients want to find them. This has led to a slowing down of donations! Historically children were born through procreation where God, husband and wife are involved - now we talk of reproduction which might sound a little more product orientated though children are not reduced to commodities!Wednesday 7 September 2011
  16. 16. We have to ask if reproductive technologies should be used at all - if no then the discussion is over and options are limited. If yes then we have to ask if it is morally permissible to use donors of eggs, womb and sperm, or should only those belonging to the husband or wife be used?Wednesday 7 September 2011
  17. 17. Surrogate motherhood was practiced in the ancient world - but the technologies we know of were not available - so they are not directly addressed in the Bible. So we have to look for general principles, which we might disagree about! Rae suggest we look at “Biblical fence posts” which provide the boundaries for what is considered ok in terms of procreation - anything outside of these is not permissible.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  18. 18. Theologically how should we think of technology - is it a good or bad thing? Can you think of examples justifying a positive or negative approach to technology?Wednesday 7 September 2011
  19. 19. Rae suggests if technology helps improve human life and alleviate the effects of sin they should be thought of as positive and part of God’s common grace to all mankind. Medical technology can be thought of in this way. Genesis 1:26, Prov 8:22-36 This should be taken in general terms - not every discovery or innovation has to be welcomed or used but those helping in fulfilling this mandate should be - unless they violate another biblical principle or moral standard.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  20. 20. Infertility should be considered as any disease resulting from sin entering the world - as would any disease affecting another part of the body. So we can proceed with caution. The RC church stops here - sex is solely within marriage and each sexual act has the potential to bring about conception and life - reproductive technology would interfere with the God given order within this - marriage is the only morally legitimate way to procreate (produce young) - for RC church technologies are not banned but only those assisting normal intercourse in producing a child can be used.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  21. 21. In such a view RC’s seem to think of infertility as different to other diseases. One might ask if the Bible teaches that sex should always be with a view to procreation - or, e.g. In S. of S. can we see it as sufficient and an end in itself? In the NT Paul encourages couples to have regular sex to avoid temptation - 1 Cor 7:1-5 - unification in sex is seen positively.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  22. 22. The next boundary issue is the idea that, “procreation was designed to occur within the context of a stable, heterosexual, permanent, monogamous marriage” children are born into such families - so normally procreation leads to parenthood. Rae suggests that Gen 1:28, be fruitful and multiply, should be seen in the general idea of Gen 1-2. The accounts of Gen 1 in giving a broad view, but which need to be considered by reading between the lines of Gen 2.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  23. 23. Gen 2 speaks of creation of mankind and their relating to one another - but also their relation to God. 1:26 - mankind are made male and female 2:4-5 follows chronologically but adds the details - distinction of male and female, mans loneliness and desire for a mate, creation of woman - once she is formed God tells them how to relate. So we should read in this order: Gen 1:26 - Gen 2:4-25 - Gen 1:28Wednesday 7 September 2011
  24. 24. Gen 2:24 - God institutes the first marriage - note also the use of leave, one flesh (sexual union, in the rest of the Bible just for married couples) Gen 2:23 - bone and flesh used together usually signify family relationships - this seems to be the instituting of a normal family relationship. We have to see Gen 1:28 as being within marriage - not every man and woman has to marry (1 Cor 7:25-28), but marriage is the norm for procreation. The difficulty is that God at times allow this norm to be “ignored”Wednesday 7 September 2011
  25. 25. Divorce is allowed - what of leaving and cleaving in a permanent way? Surrogate mothers - Abraham Gen 16, Jacob in Gen 30. Polygamy is allowed - why? Such exceptions to God’s norm were allowed - so what of us today are third party contributions allowed in procreation? The NT gives great weight to creation and suggests the above might have happened but were never Gods best. Paul argues against homosexuality in Rom 1 based on creation order.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  26. 26. Looking at the role of women in 1 Tim 2:12-15 he appeals to Gen 1-2. Jesus does the same talking about divorce - Matt 19:1-9 Creation norm carries much weight biblically! Although the Bible doesn’t appear too comfortable with 3rd party contributions it is hard to say definitively that it disallows them. Options such as single mother by choice or gay/lesbian couples having babies would appear to be outside of this boundary.Wednesday 7 September 2011
  27. 27. A third boundary issue is the status of the unborn - discussed extensively in the abortion section - a child exists from conception onwards and therefore it has to be protected. Discarding of embryos or termination of pregnancy clearly goes beyond this. The fourth boundary is the idea of adoption fulfilling the biblical idea of compassion for the vulnerable in society. Jas 1:27 sets a (figurative?) mark for care for the vulnerable in societyWednesday 7 September 2011
  28. 28. Rae also suggests a strong belief in God’s sovereignty is a boundary marker - reproductive technologies can make us desperately follow them and stop us trusting God and his plans for us - it leads to a lack of peace in our lives (1 Cor 7:17-28). What is the motivation of the people for using techniques? Finally, throughout the Bible children are viewed as a gift from God (Ps 127:3-5) - to be received open handedly and with no specifications or conditions. We should be grateful for any children we are blessed with!Wednesday 7 September 2011

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