I have a short essay on the Huffington Post today offering some very broad advice for people of faith who are considering reproductive technology. I asked a friend who has struggled with infertility (and thus far, chosen not to use any technology for help conceiving beyond a relatively low-impact fertility medication) to read this over before I submitted it. Overall, she liked it. But she remarked that tip #2 “Consider moral questions,” was too short. Because she has, like me, spent considerable time considering the moral questions raised by reproductive technology, she wanted me to say much more in this section, which reads:
I wanted to say much more in that section too. I would have liked to write a post solely about the moral concerns raised by repro tech. But first, that’s not what I was asked to do. And second, the blogging format is a terrific one for many purposes, but not for lengthy discussions of complex topics. Huffington Post asked me to write something around 700 words. I ended up giving them about 900 words, and they took it. But I was pushing it.
Moral questions around reproductive technology encompass, but go far beyond, traditional concerns raised in abortion debates about embryonic life and reproductive choice. For example, what are the implications of our being able to control certain aspects of procreation (such as screening embryos)? Does fertility medicine tempt us to view children not as gifts, but as products manufactured to parental specifications? The market orientation of fertility medicine raises questions about stewardship of resources, and the potential exploitation of patients desperate to have a baby, gamete donors, surrogates and the children themselves.
The news media tend to alternately gloss over or sensationalize such questions. Clinicians, committed to their discipline and focused on achieving pregnancies, are unlikely to raise moral concerns with patients. But moral concerns remain (in fact, as reproductive technology grows in scope and capability, they are multiplying), and are highly relevant for people of faith.
So to anyone who agrees that this section of my post doesn’t adequately address the moral questions raised by reproductive technology, here’s my advice: Read my book!
And in the meantime, check out my Huffington Post piece, and if you are so moved, leave a comment. (Thus far, the comments are rather…um…belligerent. I get a kick out of the ones railing at me for writing from the perspective of ancient superstitions, a.k.a. religious faith. OK. So you’re not religious. That’s cool. But why are you reading the religion section of the Huffington Post?!)