Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A moral dilemma......what would happen if.....

.....for example, the British Government banned all In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) procedures. With immediate effect.

Hats in the air you might say. Possibly a first step towards abolishing abortion.

Well, let's face it, it's unlikely to happen, in the near future certainly.

But the question is...if it did happen, what would the Church say regarding the thousands of embryos held in frozen suspension?

How would we, the Government or the Church decide on the future of such embryos.

Would it be licit to implant them?

Surely we could not destroy them?



Please pray for a 3 year old niece who has just been diagnosed with leukemia and who has been taken into hospital today, thank you.


  1. No we could not destroy them....what to do?I dont know.
    Prayers for the little child.

  2. Now you are asking!!!

    BIG MORAL ISSUES at stake - and I'm afraid some of the big-hitter moral theologians out there are on the wrong side of the argument [and I'm also gravely concerned regarding the position of spuc and the Anscombe centre but I'll have to get back to you with their arguments - which veer too closely to the 'monstrous' "rights of the foetus" than to the absolute sanctity of Life]

    Primarily we have to classify what's at stake according to a moral hierarchy with corresponding intensity of moral disorder.

    The creation of an embryo external to the womb is an intrinsic moral disorder [contravenes humanae vitae, casti connubii etc] but it is NOT a grave evil in itself technically - but it invariably is in its practical actuation.

    What IS a grave evil is the creation of those embryos which may or may not be implanted - so the act itself is not absolutely evil but the intention of potential uncertainty as to their implantation, together with the aggravation of less risk of implantation IS a grave evil.

    Therefore wherever we confront evil we are left with EVERY & ANY option to counter that evil with that which is not evil in itself...

    This includes recourse to commission of an intrinsic moral disordered act [i.e. that which if committed towards its own end would normatively be gravely sinful] within the remit of moral dilemma in order to prevent grave evil.

    Moral dilemma is what most people mistakenly call the double-effect; the double-effect is actually something completely different and its misattribution causes grave situationist, relativist, utilitarian and 'virtue ethics' quandaries.

    We are only allowed to commit morally disordered acts towards a right action within the remit of the double effect. [there is no goodness involved in such scenarios so reference to a 'greater good' is a misnomer]
    We are permitted when confronting evil to also apply intrinsic moral disorders to our armoury in defeating the evil - hence we are permitted to kill in self-defence, or actuate a just war, or even smack a child to prevent them injuring themselves or risking their safety....

    When we have a grave evil of created embryos doomed to die we may therefore perform actions which would normatively be gravely sinful if performed to their own end; but as the end is now [within the moral dilemma remit] an end towards the prevention of evil...

    ...expedient, necessary direct action may be performed to save lives which if done for any other reason would be gravely sinful.

    This includes the intrinsic moral disorder of surrogacy and volunteer wombs - hopefully among those in the ideal circumstances willing to continue with child-rearing after the pregnancy [fertile and infertile couples].

    But...what if there is not enough? Even after a global appeal and all willing volunteers had been utilised?

    If the lives in stasis are jeopardised or at risk in any way after the use of all available married wombs?

    Then we broach another intrinsic moral disorder - that of the unmarried woman willing to save a child's life by giving them the shelter of their womb.

    ...and then we may have to broach another intrinsic moral disorder - that of those women who have taken solemn vows in religious orders volunteering their wombs to save the lives of the unborn... [to be continued]

  3. When confronted with such a grave evil of the slaughter of the unborn - everything - and I mean everything - which is not evil in itself is permissible.

    ..even if it meant the child would be born a victim of those moral disorders [no knowledge of parent or their heritage, no childrearing by both a father and mother, the possibility of a severance of relationship between the surrogate and the actual child-rearer...

    ...all these scenarios are normatively condemned as highly morally disordered, scandalous and a violation of the child's dignity...

    ..but when the ONLY other alternative is to let them shrivel and decay as a few day old embryo?

    A moral imperative comes into play to use all means possible to prevent that evil on the sole proviso it is not evil-in-itself.

  4. One of the problems with IVF is that it is eugenic in nature. That requires that the embryos are graded and placed in tiers of preceived acceptability. The top tier is saved the rest flushed; these are actual embryos! So if the top tier lost it's preceived usefullness they would go the way of the others. It's not as if those who would desire to save them own them. They are subject to the same culture of death which does not understand that they have worth before they are implanted. I'm sure the Church would desire their adoption, but that would be seen as an undo burden upon the fertility clinics so there would be one more holocaust and it would not be widely reported upon and that would be that except in the heart of God; who is already greatly offended. I am praying for your niece.

  5. Thank you OTSOTA, RM and Sandy. As an academic exercise it is interesting that this appears to be one conundrum where the end justifies the means.

  6. Sorry sir but NO!!!! There's no justification in any of this..there is always shame and scandal involved [irrespective of personal error, vice, depravity, virtue, sacrifice or martyrdom which may be secondary within it]...we all fell and we're all in it together.

    This is never pro-action..if it were it would be gravely sinful. This is reaction and retraction. The means have been abused and destroyed/rendered impotent and the gravely immoral end is either imminent or progressing uncountered.

    This is a rescue operation - a salvaging exercise.

    The point of all this - as in most moral scenarios is that our fallen nature has conspired in allowing this moral evil to be fomented therefore we have to spend ages engaging in damage limitation with only the readily available instruments; having destroyed the right items, tools and weapons.

    It's like we're on a ship and we've thrown the helmsman, engineer and boilerman overboard...

    we've no coal so we have to break up the dining room furniture and burn 1st editions from the library for fuel,
    we have no tools so we have to use the silverware as screwdrivers and spanners, no welding gear so we cover the leaks in mink stoles, pour chateauneufs in the radiators, using wedgwood plates to scrape off the barnacles, banging away at the rudder with a now-unrecognizable cellini bronze of St Michael.

    we may be still afloat and chugging ahead...but we made such a wreck in the process...and we've all paid a heavy price...and will live with our regrets and deprivations....

    I don't think I need to mention this analogy is quite apposite ecclesiastically.

  7. Paul - if you are responding to my comment (not used to being addressed as "Sir") I am in no way condoning IVF but, faced with this problem (if only) it seems that the only 'moral' pragmatic solution would be to elect for implantation.

  8. I always call you Sir. But although it becomes an imperative, it is never 'justified' [implying a moral ambivalence or neutrality to original circumstances]; nor is it pragmatic [there is no alternative!]