In Vitro Fertilization Case

The following comes from a February 9 press release via Christian Newswire

WASHINGTON– What do a filmmaker, a board member of NOW, a reproductive endocrinologist, two bloggers, and a pro-life legal group have in common? They all teamed up on a filing this week in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case involving children conceived by in vitro fertilization. The friend-of-the-court brief the Life Legal Defense Foundation filed is designed to educate the Court about the “array of serious dangers” in vitro poses to women, children, and society at large.

The Supreme Court is hearing a case, Astrue v. Capato, in which a widow seeks Social Security survivor benefits for the twins conceived in vitro and born after her husband’s death. Lower federal courts are divided on the question of whether such posthumously conceived children are entitled to benefits under the Social Security Act, and the Supreme Court is expected to settle the question in a ruling this spring. 

And while the case presents fairly dry and complicated legal questions of statutory interpretation, the context of the case — children conceived and born through in vitro technology after their father had passed away from cancer — makes this the first case in which the Supreme Court will confront this new reproductive technology.

“We felt this was an educable moment for the Court,” said Catherine Short, Legal Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, who was counsel of record on the brief. “There’s a huge dearth of appreciation for the ugly underbelly of in vitro fertilization. This case presents a unique opportunity to educate the Court on this issue, lest the Court in ignorance bestow some unqualified praise upon in vitro as a practice.

“The Court benefits greatly from hearing points of view that might not otherwise be expressed. Here, neither the mother of the in vitro twins nor the Department of Justice have any reason to speak ill of in vitro. That’s where we provide a key supplemental voice.”

The brief emphasizes that children conceived by in vitro fertilization are fully human and entitled to love and respect just like any other children. But the brief also cautions the Court that in vitro comes with a package of very significant downsides, including physical and emotional risks to both the in vitro child and the genetic mother, the routine creation and destruction or freezing of untold numbers of “spare” human embryos, the deconstruction of the family, and the unleashing of an exploitative industry that can prey upon vulnerable women.

The five friends of the court appearing on the brief are:

1. Jennifer Lahl, documentary filmmaker and producer of Eggsploitation, an exposé of the in vitro industry’s exploitation of human egg providers;

2. Kathleen Sloan, NOW board member and veteran activist for women’s rights;

3. Kathleen R. LaBounty, conceived by donor sperm, blogger on donor conception;

4. Stephanie Blessing, also conceived by donor sperm and blogging on her situation; and,

5. Anthony J. Caruso, M.D., MPH, a former in vitro practitioner who oversaw more than 1,000 in vitro procedures but has since renounced the practice.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case on March 19, with a decision likely to follow in June.

The brief can be read here.


Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 1:01 AM By Dan
Roe v. Wade wouldn’t have had a chance had the court had a truly scientific and moral understanding of matters that they are likely to get here.

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 6:08 AM By Sandra
Let’s see if the Catholic “justices” can even see the Truth when it’s right in front of them. As we all know, people can have the Truth right in there face and still refuse to reason.

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 10:48 AM By sam
March 19. Praise God. That’s St. Joseph Day – the protector of Holy Family – The Child Jesus and His Mother Mary. Let us all pray to St. Joseph who was a just man for justice in this case.

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 11:37 AM By JMJ
Thank you sam and for once, I hope that EVERYONE will be on board for this. Dear St. Joseph, please help the members of the Court to give the right decision on this complex and unnecessary case. Oh, what fools we mortals be trying to play God. +JMJ+

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 2:02 PM By JLS
Science and the soul; where do they meet?

Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 8:01 PM By Maryanne Leonard
Holy cow, are we back to deciding if children are to be supported depending on how they were conceived? Have we not come to agree that all children, legitimately conceived or otherwise, are worthy of our care and support? We may or may not approve of forms of conception outside of marriage, or this sort of highly questionable timing, which we could classify as illegal if we so chose, but once we are talking about living human beings, are we to deny them support because their father is dead and their mother is beyond addled?

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 1:41 PM By John F. Maguire
In reply to JLS: Since the rational human soul (or “anima intellectiva” [Aquinas]) is the very form of the body, no Cartesian scruple arises as to “where the two meet”; to the contrary. Body-and-soul, which after all is but one hylomorphic unity, consitutes all living human bodies precisely as living, that is, precisely as animated. Further: Given that the human soul is anima intellectiva, its intellection is always already keyed to science as knowledge but also keyed, in a differentiated way, to the specialized sciences, in relationship to which theology, today as yesterday, has pride of place as the queen of the sciences.

Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 8:01 PM By JLS
Thanks, Maguire; I’ll pass this along.

Posted Thursday, February 16, 2012 6:59 PM By Anne T.
Another problem with this is that many young men and women all over the world are selling their sperm and eggs for procedures such as this to get money for college or to survive if they are poor. One man admitted to selling his sperm for in vitro at least a hundred times in a certain area. Can you imagine how many children will be related in that area and not even know about it?

Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 8:22 PM By JLS
Haven’t heard that before, Anne T., about a given area having lots of genetically related babies, hundreds … wow, what a boon for the govt who will have to provide more medical support due to a blossoming of inbreeding genetic problems.

Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 10:37 PM By JLS
Youtube is strange. After “When”, I found myself watching Charge of the Light Brigade, and eventually ended up in the Indian wars. Sure is rare to find a padre or priest character in the old movies. Not many in the new movies either. Have to go check out Seven Mules for Sister Serra, now.

Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 10:39 PM By JLS
Correction, Two Mules for Sister Sara.

Posted Friday, February 17, 2012 11:09 PM By k
I once read the most-heartbreaking post on a Catholic youth website. It was by a young man who had been conceived by in vitro fertilization and he was trying to come to terms with being a member of a Church which said he should not exist. Like in previous days with children born out of wedlock, he has to sort out whether he was was wanted by God. I have read another article in a secular magazine about the difficulties test tube babies and those with anonymous sperm donors have in trying to resolve the questions about who they are and why they are and what place they have in the universe. It is truly sad.

Posted Saturday, February 18, 2012 7:57 AM By JLS
Oops, mistake watching Two Mules for Sister Sara … had never seen the ending before, didn’t realize she reverted to her former life of ill repute. But what was nudging me on was a kind of fleeting thought about the absense of great character roles in the movies of Catholic religious. Yeah, we all know about the handful of these produced back in the thirties or forties … what happened since then? Where are these movie characters? In the movies it is as though Catholicism has already vanished from the earth … Could it be that in Hollywood the Rapture has already happened … like decades ago?