UP Catholic 09 22 2017 E Edition Page 15

www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC September 22, 2017 15 W hen Catholic couples experi- ence trouble getting pregnant, they often seek medical help and begin to research what options are available to them. A number of moral considerations and questions gener- ally emerge during this process: Why are techniques like in vitro fertilization (IVF) considered immoral? What approaches will the Church allow us to try? What does our infertility mean, spiritually and personally, in the face of our fervent but frustrated desire for a baby? When a couple, after having non-contraceptive sexual intercourse for a year or more, begins to in- vestigate whether there are issues related to infertility, some medical profession- als simply encourage them to turn to the infertility industry and try IVF or a related technique like arti- icial insemination. These approaches, however, raise a host of moral concerns, including that they substitute an act of production for the act of marital self-giving, allow a third party outside the marriage to become the cause of the conception, often require masturbation, and may result in significant collateral dam- age, including embryo destruction, embryo freezing and disruptive effects on a woman's physiology from the powerful super-ovulato- ry drugs used during the procedures. It can be helpful to keep in mind a particu- lar rule of thumb for determining whether a procedure is morally acceptable: treat- ments that assist the marital act are permis- sible, while those that replace, or substitute for, the marital act raise serious moral objections. The ideal approach to resolving infertility involves identifying the underlying causes (endometriosis? fallopian tube block- age? problems ovulating? etc.) and address- ing those causes so that marital intercourse can now result in a conception. While this may seem sensible and even ob- vious, many obstetricians and gynecologists today do not offer much more than a cursory workup or exam prior to recommending that the couple approach a fertility clinic and employ their services to produce a baby via IVF. Couples ought instead to look into techniques that can methodically diagnose and heal the underlying reasons for infertili- ty, like FEMM (Fertility Education & Med- ical Management, https://femmhealth.org) pioneered by Dr. Pilar Vigil, or NaProTech- nology (Natural Procreative Technology, see http://www.naprotechnology.com), led by Dr. Tom Hilgers, Both are Catholic ob/gyns with great track records in helping to resolve underlying infertility issues and helping couples to conceive naturally. NaPro has been around a little longer and employs a range of approaches which may include, for example, hormonal mod- ulation of menstrual cycle irregularities; surgical correction of fallopian tube damage or occlusions; fertility drugs to help a wom- an's ovaries to release eggs; Viagra or other approaches to address erectile dysfunction; correcting penile structural defects such as hypospadias; addressing premature ejacula- tion; using NFP (natural family planning) to observe naturally occurring signs of fertility during the woman's cycle to time inter- course; using LTOT (low tubal ovum trans- fer), in which eggs are retrieved and trans- planted into the uterus or fallopian tube at a point likely to result in fertilization following the marital act; and surgical resolution of endometriosis. Dr. Hilgers has formed and trained a number of other physicians who work as independent NaProTechnology specialists in the U.S. and abroad. FEMM is building a similar network. On the other hand, a number of other widely-available techniques, instead of assisting the marital act, end up replacing it with another kind of act altogether, namely, an act of producing or manufacturing children in laboratories. These techniques like IVF; intracytoplasmic sperm injec- tion (ICSI); artificial insemination; hiring a surrogate to carry a pregnancy; and cloning obviously raise serious moral objections. In some cases, a couple's infertility will end up being irresolvable. Even as a husband and wife face the grief and sorrow of not being able naturally to conceive children of their own, they can still realize their paternal and maternal desires in other meaningful, fruitful and loving ways. For example, they may discern a call to adopt a child, providing a mom and a dad to someone whose parents have died or felt that they could not care for the child. They might decide to become a camp counselor or a schoolteacher, or provide temporary foster care to a child in crisis, generously taking on an authentic parenting role. They may become a Big Brother/Big Sister to youth in the commu- nity who yearn for a father or mother figure in their lives. Although these solutions do not take away all the grief, they are a means by which God helps to draw good out of their situation. By these means, couples are challenged to think outside the box and enter into the mysterious designs of God within their marriage. By stepping away from a desire to conceive and raise biological children of their own, couples facing irresolvable infer- tility can discover new and unexpected paths to marital fruitfulness, paths that bring great blessings to others, and that can lead to abiding joy and marital fulfillment. Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Phila- delphia. See www.ncbcenter.org Considering the options for infertile couples MAKING SENSE OUT OF BIOETHICS Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph. D Father Hesburgh now on forever stamp Earlier this month the U.S. Postal Service issued a new for- ever stamp honoring Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, during a dedication ceremony on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Father Hesburgh served as president of the university for 35 years. The stamp art features an oil-on-panel painting of Father Hesburgh standing on the campus of the university. The portrait is based on a 1980 photograph taken by Notre Dame staffphotographer Bruce Harlan. The Postal Service is pleased to issue a new forever stamp honoring Father Theodore Hesburgh, considered one of the most important educational, religious and civic leaders of the 20th century, said Postmaster Gen- eral and CEO Megan J. Brennan. This stamp is a lasting testament to his pio- neering contributions as a champion of so- cial justice, an advo- cate for international aid and an emissary for peace. Father Hesburgh was ordained into the priesthood of the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1943 and two years later he was appointed to the faculty at Notre Dame. He became Notre Dame's 15th president in 1952, a position he held for 35 years, the longest presidential term in the history of the university. Father Hesburgh spearheaded successful efforts to strength- en the faculty and administration, improve academic standards and increase the university's endowment. In 1957, he was appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Father Hesburgh helped to compile reports on racial discrimination and the denial of voting rights that resulted in the Omnibus Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom the same year, and he later founded the Center for Civil and Human Rights at Notre Dame. A champion of causes ranging from education to immigration reform to the plight of underdeveloped nations, Father Hes- burgh worked with a number of organizations that reflected his beliefs, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advance- ment of Teaching, the National Science Board, the Overseas Development Council and the Select Committee on Immigra- tion and Refugee Policy. In 1987, Father Hesburgh stepped down as Notre Dame's president, devoting his time in retirement to supporting uni- versity initiatives, in particular the Kroc Institute for Inter- national Peace Studies and the Kellogg Institute for Interna- tional Studies, and serving on various boards and presidential commissions. Father Hesburgh was awarded the Congressional Gold Med- al in 2000, one of many awards and honors he received in his lifetime. COURTESY PHOTO U.S. Postal Service honors Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. on a new commemorative forever stamp.

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