Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Venting along with Curmudgeon: The family way - Part 1

Long-time readers (or really good archive browsers) will recall that Older Daughter got married in July 2009. She and her husband Hank live in Indianapolis (Hank's hometown) where Older Daughter works as a nurse.

Their union has not yet been blessed by children.

With many young couples during the first several years of their married life, this is not an issue: The young people need to get established in their careers, acquire some of life's necessities, pay down their college loans -- that kind of stuff. Besides... a young husband and wife have to learn to live with each other. That's not always easy, and it can get really complicated when children arrive. A lot of young couples go out and get a dog before they get around to producing issue; the dog becomes a practice-child. Older Daughter and Hank got a dog.

But they wanted a real child. They've wanted a child for some time now. There are some areas that a father does not discuss with his daughter, certainly not in any detail, but I have been reliably informed (by Long Suffering Spouse who also, thankfully, spares me most of the details) that the young people worked at the project for some time before deciding that something, or someone, must be amiss.

They consulted medical professionals and submitted themselves to a battery of humiliating tests. The doctors concluded that Older Daughter's plumbing was in good working order but that Hank could do with a little work.

Hank submitted to surgical intervention.

There will be a brief pause while I cringe.

There were more humiliating, highly personal tests. Apparently Older Daughter and Long Suffering Spouse actually talk about this stuff. Apparently in detail. I can't even think about it without cringing.

(Pardon the additional pause.)

Anyway, the passage of time (and, presumably, the resumption of normal relations, but -- again -- I don't talk about these things) failed to yield the desired result.

Older Daughter and Hank sought out a fertility specialist. After still more humiliating and invasive testing, they were deemed candidates for in vitro fertilization (Wikipedia spells it 'fertilisation,' but that looks wrong to me and the Blogger spell-checker).

IVF -- a test-tube baby! This is something that was confined to the realm of science fiction for much of my life (Louise Brown, the first 'test-tube baby,' was born in 1978).

I consider myself a good Catholic, but I think that if the Church is reflexively opposed to IVF, it is confused. There is no question that the Church is right to be opposed to IVF where conception can be achieved in the natural course (the rumors about the 'turkey baster' and Michael Jackson come unwillingly to mind); nor is the Church wrong to encourage adoption as the safest and most morally responsible course for infertile couples. Also, there are techniques and procedures engaged in some IVF clinics that are destructive of human embryos, before -- and apparently even after -- implantation. These practices can be condemned without rejecting IVF outright.

There are ethical objections and issues that responsible medical practitioners can address and accommodate. The Church should not automatically condemn couples who seek to have their own biological children where reasonable and responsible safeguards are observed. There is no deeper instinct in any species, with the sole possible exception of self-preservation, than the instinct to pass one's genes along to the next generation. If the Church truly condemns all IVF at present, it may be that this stance is a legacy of Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae. But it must be remembered that this encyclical was issued in the 1960s, before IVF was actually possible (although it was horrifyingly imagined in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World). I have faith that the Church will catch up with science on this, with appropriate ethical guidance and safeguards.

In the meantime, Older Daughter and her husband were going to try IVF. I won't tell the Pope if you won't.

To be continued.....


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

wishing them the best curmy... and now i have to type TWO words to leave a comment, one i can read and one i cannot. if you don't get this it means i tried to guess what it said but couldn't. won't you try comment moderation?

smiles, bee

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I won't say a word!

Jill Lane said...

Great post, totally agree. Good for you and best of luck to the hopeful future parents.