When I think about all those comments about the Church’s stance on IVF from last week, I get all distraught still. I understand speaking with charity, but I also understand that some things will just always be hard to hear. I thought this quote was an excellent summary of why I get distraught.
Ironically, many couples using IUI and IVF in their late twenties and mid-thirties were contracepting earlier in marriage. This is because IUI and IVF are the logical counterparts of the contraceptive mentality, which has as a fundamental tenet that women enjoy total control over their fertility. The following comment from one infertile woman perfectly epitomizes this view:
I’m not a control freak, but it’s one area of my life that I thought I’d always have control over. You know, I was on the pill for five years before we started trying to have a baby. . . . Five years I thought I was in control of my fertility. When I didn’t get pregnant, it came as quite a shock (Handbook of Families and Health, SAGE Publications, 103).
Predictably, the Catholic Church is criticized from both sides: When it’s convenient, couples tell the Church that they should be allowed to contracept; when they change their minds, they tell the Church that it should permit them to use IUI and IVF. Either way, the Church is accused of being archaic and narrow. In fact, the view that separates the procreative and unitive aspects of marital intercourse is truly “narrow.” It reduces the sexual act to being either primarily for the sake of unity or primarily for the sake of reproduction. The Church alone, in its wisdom, refuses to divide the two.
The Church refuses to divide what God has joined because it does not have the power to do so (Matt. 19:6). The possession of such a power would enable man to become like God (Gen. 3:5). This premise, in fact, underlies the scientific revolution, which promises man total control over nature, even human nature and human sexuality. Some might argue that the power science gives man comes from God, but not everything invented by man is for his own good. This does not mean that technology cannot be used to assist the reproductive process but that such assistance must never be divorced from the recognition that all life is a gift.