By Dr Jeanette Pinto –
Today India is experiencing a vast urban cultural change in family structures. We are in the midst of a serious crisis for vulnerable children and families, and “pro-life, pro-family” organizations have been largely silent on this new ‘culture of death’.
The world is opening up to new ideas of parenthood offering alternative lifestyle choices, namely single parenthood. Not every young woman is waiting for the Mr. Right to come her way. In the name of technology women who have touched 35 years and beyond are opting to enjoy the gift of motherhood with having babies using technology. It appears that a futuristic society is emerging where the institution of marriage is breaking down. Alternative life choices are so scary. Adults in this society lead dependent lives and freely cohabit with others – a bizarre situation!
Modern lifestyle is changing the mind-sets of working women and if they haven’t found the right partner they are not disturbed, neither are they waiting for marriage. They somehow crave for motherhood as it is the greatest fulfilment for a woman. Perhaps they are not even anti-marriage. If there’s been a painful marriage, the woman now misses the companionship and is desirous for love. There are women who have expressed that they want a reason to come back from work to a meaningful existence, and this could be by having her own children, so she chooses motherhood without a partner in life or marriage.
Baby Technology is serving her deep desire by providing suitable sperm donors. She can conceive using donor sperm which costs around Rs 1,000 or more per vial. If eggs are not available, donor eggs are available though that’s more expensive. The procedure is that of fertilizing the eggs though intra-uterine insemination or (IUI). The donor semen is deposited inside the uterus when the woman is ovulating. If the woman does not conceive then the next step is trying in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
In IVF, the woman’s eggs are removed surgically under sedation. She has to take fertility drugs for a period of time to maximise the eggs extraction. Next they are fertilized with a healthy donor in the laboratory, creating three to five healthy embryos. Within 2-3 days the embryos are implanted in the uterus. The process is not always successful. What about the extra embryos? They are carelessly flushed down the drain. How horrible! Isn’t that as good as murder, except that we are unable to see the embryo as a final human being…the dignity of the human person is totally disregarded.
What does the Catholic Church teach on this subject?
Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ART) seems to be an answer to a many a prayer. It is procreation without sex. Is that how God designed procreation for man? Well God instituted marriage a relationship between husband and wife so that the two can become one in love through the marital act, and they could be partners with Him in procreation. There are some reproductive technologies that do not violate the marital act and are licit for Catholics. For example, fertility drugs that stimulate ovum or sperm production, or surgical procedures that repair damaged organs and medical procedures designed to treat illness and restore the proper functioning.
First, The Catholic Church does not oppose all assisted reproductive technologies. In fact organizations like the Pope Paul VI Institute have been researching for years into medical practices and treatments that treat the root causes of infertility without violating the sanctity of the marital act.
Second, human life is sacred from the moment of conception and worth of intrinsic respect. Hence it cannot be desired or conceived as a product of medical or biological technologies. It would be equivalent to reducing the person to an object of scientific technologies.
Third, the Church opposes in-vitro fertilization as is that it is dangerous for the child and treats the child and couple as if they were part of the manufacturing process and not as a family.
Mankind universally believes that God is the Creator of all life, no one can claim for himself the right to create it. A child “has the right to be the fruit of the specific act of conjugal love of is parents.” Procreation is not a fundamental right for human beings.
Strangely we observe that as society makes progress in technology, lasting values seem to regress. In the 20th century what was unacceptable is in the 21st century considered ok and morally right. It is the “I” that matters and must be fully satisfied, it really doesn’t matter how? The right of the child in this matter is of no consequence. Film stars, popular icons and other celebrities want it all. They don’t want to miss out on the miracle, joy and beauty of motherhood. Today they want to start a new family tradition, in addition to families with gay parents.
This situation is bound to pose problems for such single mothers some of who are already discovering new social biases but don’t seem to face great hostility. There have already been a series of favourable judgements however. In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that single women could claim single guardianship of their children without naming their father or needing his consent. In 2016, the Ministry of External Affairs passed new rules stating that the name of only one parent on the passport was enough. Social institutions would want to know the father’s name, so procuring birth certificates; school admissions and legal documents will be a hurdle. Some mothers did not want these children to associate with their children and tag them silently.
The challenge for Pro-life groups is to make all efforts to curb this trend. Offer Adoption as a wonderful substitute. Thousands of babies and displaced children want to be loved and are available for adoption. Speak up, write and create awareness on Adoption to save the Family. Let’s reflect before we think of other lifestyle choices.
Dr Jeanette Pinto, an educator for the past 5 decades, headed the Department of History was Vice Principal of St. Xavier’s College Mumbai, and retired as Principal of Sophia College, Mumbai. She is a counsellor and conductor of Personal Enrichment Programmes for students and teachers.
She set up the Human Life Committee in the Archdiocese of Bombay. As a sex educator she has given talks on Human Sexuality in India and abroad. In 2014 she received the Rachana Outstanding Woman of the Year for her Pro-life work presented by the Diocese of Mangalore. She has attended many National and International Pro-life conferences and given talks at other fora on various women’s issues.
She is author of a couple of books, her most recent ones are titled: I’m Pro-Life Are you? & Sex Talk: Parent to Child. She has also written a number of articles on a variety of themes and subjects, which have been published in research journals, The Examiner and other Catholic publications.
This content was originally published here.