May 31, 2005

I'm Confused About Anti-Choice Issues

The more I read about pro-choice and anti-choice issues, the more confused I become. Last week, the U. S. House of Representatives voted to fund embryonic stem-cell research, and it's before the U. S. Senate right now. President Bush has said he's going to veto that legislation if it passes.

Today the issue seems to be the "adoption" of embryos.

Some Catholic theologians are encouraging married couples to adopt unwanted embryos from fertility clinics. Others vehemently oppose the idea, calling it a grave violation of the principle that procreation should occur naturally.

The Vatican has not yet taken a stand. But if Pope Benedict XVI rules against embryo adoption, as some doctrinal conservatives expect, it could create a fissure between Catholics and evangelical Protestants, who have enthusiastically promoted embryo adoption and enlisted the White House's support for it.

Source: click here.

I have never understood the Catholic Church's opposition to in vitro fertilization. I understand their opposition to the destruction of embryos, even though I don't agree with it, especially where stem-cell research is concerned. I mean, I think it's an application of the principle of the double effect, plain and simple, and that's totally "ethical" in Catholic circles. But embryo adoption is another issue entirely.

One of the leading voices in the church in favor of embryo adoptions is the Rev. Thomas D. Williams, dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University in Rome. "It's reaching out to another human being, albeit in an embryonic state, in the only way that that little being can be helped," he said.

But the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, who has a doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and is staff ethicist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, argued that embryo adoptions would make Catholics complicit in test-tube fertilizations, which the church considers illicit. Moreover, he said, artificially implanting an embryo in a woman's womb is a "grave violation of the nature of marital sexuality."

Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University is probably the most conservative Catholic university in the world, owned and operated by the Legionaries of Christ. Father Thomas D. Williams, L.C., is the handsome, articulate young priest NBC and related networks used extensively as a commentator during the death watch, funeral, and burial of John Paul, II, and the election and installation of Benedict XVI. This man is absolutely not a doctrinaire liberal, so this Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk must be far to the right of Attila the Hun.

This Pacholczyk person says implanting an embryo in a woman's womb is a "grave violation of the nature of marital sexuality." With all due respect, what does he know about "the nature of marital sexuality," except what he's read in textbooks written by other (theoretically) celibate men? In fact, what does "the nature of marital sexuality" mean? I've been married 32 years and I've fathered 2 children, but I don't know what "the nature of marital sexuality" means.
I think what we're seeing here is a case of "celibate" men pontificating about relationships between married men and women. I don't think they know what they're talking about, and it confuses me. This Fr. Pacholczyk's position seems to me to be very anti-pro-life. Or, anti pro-choice. Or something.

Ed Deluzain