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True2Ourselves Forums   > Community Topics > Christianity & Science  > Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

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  #1  
Old 11-27-2010, 09:19 PM
AFI
 
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Default Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

This thread is a continuation of a previous tangent of mine from the sexual morality section.

The question is what are the religious probations on ART’s, assisted reproductive technologies, and what is the justification of said bans.

As a point of reference the following scenario is where we are as of today in terms of our capability in ART’s:
A couple can now with today’s technology say get married at 20 and then harvest their eggs and sperm and freeze both. They could then sterilize themselves or use some form of contraception, say a condom and then when they are settled financially they can take those eggs and sperm and have kids through In vitro fertilization.

Personally I’m all for the use of ART's and don’t see a moral problem with using them.

now here are some of the points that SolaVerbumDei made that I want to respond to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolaVerbumDei View Post
I am aware of what technology can do. The point is that technology does not decide morality, it is the other way around. Reproduction can be sexless but we are talking of the giving of life the way God intended not the way men decide. Artificial reproduction is not a side of the same coin but counterfeit currency.
Again what is to say that God dint intend for us to use ART’s to reproduce? Just because the way we used to reproduce was through sex does not mean that is the only way that God will bless.

Quote:
I spoke of the dignity of persons. Every person has the same dignity regardless of the process used to conceive them. Those who were born with immoral means had the right to be born from the loving embrace of the marital union not as products in a factory.
A person born through In vitro fertilization isn’t lacking anything that a person born through sex has. They were both formed by the union of the sperm and the eggs. They were both carried by a mother and they both as you said have the same dignity regardless of the process. So if they are both just as well of why do you say they must be born by a sexual union?

Quote:
God stated, and the man will leave his family and be united with his wife in one flesh. That is the loving embrace God intended for every single human being to be born. Children are gifts not products, they are given by God to whomever he chooses, not produced by their parents. We can produce shoes or cars but we are not supposed to produce people.
Well whether we should or not we are deciding when to have kids so that means one of two things.
a. If all children are given by God and God decides who has kids then the children born by In vitro fertilization and other ART’s must also have been given by God. In which case the Catholic Church would be wrong in condemning ART’s which God is using to give children.

b. If these children born by ART’s aren’t given by God then obviously your statement reflects what should be not what is. You would have to say that children should be given by God and should not just be produced by parents.

Again your saying all children come from God and then you contradict yourself by saying that the children born of ARTs aren’t from god but rather are produced. You can’t have it both ways. Now to me it makes a lot more sense to say that God doesn’t conceive children humans do whether it is through natural or artificial means. Then God comes in and gives those people a soul. So the soul comes from God and comes regardless of how you were born. But while God could control conception he clearly doesn’t because we can now have conception artificially.

Last edited by AFI : 11-27-2010 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:59 PM
Giuliano
 
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AFI View Post

A person born through In vitro fertilization isn’t lacking anything that a person born through sex has. They were both formed by the union of the sperm and the eggs. They were both carried by a mother and they both as you said have the same dignity regardless of the process. So if they are both just as well of why do you say they must be born by a sexual union?
Are you sure about this? I would say the child born to parents who loved each other, who "knew" each other spiritually -- who "knew" each other with the "two becoming one" during the act of procreation have something different about them.

Abraham had sex with Hagar but didn't become one with her -- and her son was not the child of promise. The "two shall be one" applies to more than the sex act. Isaac was born after Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah -- something in their spiritual nature was healed and made perfect before they conceived the child of promise.

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
....
15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.


A study of holy children being born to holy parents is revealing. Thus Paul told Timothy he had the same spirit that had been in his grandmother and mother. For all I know God might send more holy souls to earth if there were were more holier parents.
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:22 PM
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AFI View Post
Again what is to say that God dint intend for us to use ART’s to reproduce? Just because the way we used to reproduce was through sex does not mean that is the only way that God will bless.
The natural way to reproduce is there in human nature! It is all over Scripture too.

Quote:
A person born through In vitro fertilization isn’t lacking anything that a person born through sex has. They were both formed by the union of the sperm and the eggs. They were both carried by a mother and they both as you said have the same dignity regardless of the process. So if they are both just as well of why do you say they must be born by a sexual union?
They were not born in the union of spouses, the sexual self-giving of spouses. The sexual union is the way intended by God and the one that is the species way of reproducing. That is self evident. Children are gifts from God, God choosing to give them or not. They are not commodities produced by their parents. Children are not an entitlement. Marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation.

The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents. It is that conjugal love in the act of sexual self-giving that constitutes the matrix of their union and the instrument for God to confer the gift.

As parents do not have a right to a child (as children are not property) they cannot simply confer the gift on themselves outside of that act that constitutes the unitive expression of their love, an act that God created as procreative.

Quote:
Well whether we should or not we are deciding when to have kids so that means one of two things.
a. If all children are given by God and God decides who has kids then the children born by In vitro fertilization and other ART’s must also have been given by God. In which case the Catholic Church would be wrong in condemning ART’s which God is using to give children.

b. If these children born by ART’s aren’t given by God then obviously your statement reflects what should be not what is. You would have to say that children should be given by God and should not just be produced by parents.
Every child is given by God but the issue is if we force such "gift" or receive it humbly from God. I can receive a toy car as my parents decided to give it to me, then I have a toy car. Now, they may not give me the toy so I go and buy one on my own. I do have a toy car too but it was not humbly received as a gift.

This is important in moral theology, that two acts have the same end does not make both acts morally equal.

Example:

I work hard and end up with $ in my pocket.

I mug people and end up with $ in my pocket.


As you can see, although the end is the same, both acts are not morally equal.

The same here, in both instances the end is a child but both are not morally equal. The issue is "were they received as a gift" or were they produced as a commodity. In both instances we have a child but both processes are not morally equal.

Quote:
Again your saying all children come from God and then you contradict yourself by saying that the children born of ARTs aren’t from god but rather are produced.
I think I just explained my position better. I never said they are not from God. In fact, I told you these children have human dignity equal to other children born the natural way; ergo, they must come from God.

But were they received as a gift or produced as a commodity? What I say is that all children deserve to be born from that loving embrace.

Quote:
You can’t have it both ways. Now to me it makes a lot more sense to say that God doesn’t conceive children humans do whether it is through natural or artificial means. Then God comes in and gives those people a soul. So the soul comes from God and comes regardless of how you were born. But while God could control conception he clearly doesn’t because we can now have conception artificially.
God creates all of us. He intended a way: as the gifts received from the loving embrace of spouses. All we are (not just our souls) come from God. The issue is what method or process was intended by God for him to make us? It was by the sexual encounter. Simply because technology now can do this or that does not mean it is ok.

Following your example, we know that the natural sexual union is in the species as God created us. Technology however is a human invention. Now, God gave us intelligence to create, yes. But because it is a human creation, a human construct, it must subordinate itself to God's will and law.

Why these technologies fail the moral test? They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. In effect, God united the sexual act and the procreative but these technologies separate them. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." (CCC 2377).

I enjoy our conversation no matter how much we might disagree.

Peace.

Last edited by SolaVerbumDei : 11-28-2010 at 06:55 AM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 10:36 PM
SolaVerbumDei's Avatar
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giuliano View Post
Are you sure about this? I would say the child born to parents who loved each other, who "knew" each other spiritually -- who "knew" each other with the "two becoming one" during the act of procreation have something different about them.

Abraham had sex with Hagar but didn't become one with her -- and her son was not the child of promise. The "two shall be one" applies to more than the sex act. Isaac was born after Abram became Abraham and Sarai became Sarah -- something in their spiritual nature was healed and made perfect before they conceived the child of promise.

Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
....
15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.


A study of holy children being born to holy parents is revealing. Thus Paul told Timothy he had the same spirit that had been in his grandmother and mother. For all I know God might send more holy souls to earth if there were were more holier parents.
I agree. There is something spiritual and profound in the way God creates through the sexual union of spouses. Even Jesus linked his love and self giving for the church to that act of self donation of spouses in Ephesians 5:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

The husband loves his wife and they become one flesh, from that unity come children as gifts. Christ gives himself to his bride, the Church, and from that unity comes salvation, a new birth of children of God.

Some say women have "a right" not to have children so they can abort or prevent conception at will. (I am not saying that is being defended here, by the way, I am speaking in general). Now, on the other side some also say she has a "right" to have children at will. If they have a right then it is not seen as a gift. If it is a gift it ought to be received as such, not produced through technology.

In fact, embryos are human beings! Thus, some froze them as we froze meat to later try and conceive; in the process, many human beings in the developmental embryonic stage are destroyed, killed (over 95% are destroyed to have one or a few survive!). All is done to satisfy "a right." I do not get it!

If you cannot conceive maybe God is calling you to adopt.

Last edited by SolaVerbumDei : 11-28-2010 at 06:52 AM.
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Old 11-27-2010, 11:11 PM
Giuliano
 
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
If you cannot conceive maybe God is calling you to adopt.
It is important to ask ourselves why God put us in the circumstances we find ourselves, not questioning His Wisdom but rather questioning our own desires. Do we trust God to provide what we need? I realize that may sound harsh to some people, but it is a concern.

There are some too not meant to procreate in the fleshly manner but are as eunuchs for the kingdom (I'm sure you know the verse). In the time before Jesus, Isaiah wrote this in a similar vein to people about God could work even then:

Isaiah 56:3 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.


I certainly do sympathize with people who want children and can't have them; but perhaps God has something better in store for them.

And what is wrong with adoption? If the commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves, couldn't we come to love someone else's child as much as if he were our own? Do we care only about "me and mine" after the flesh?
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:21 AM
Josiah
 
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

.


There are two issues here: the personal, loving, sharing of self and intimacy in sexual intercourse in the bonds of marriage - that I strongly affirm, and health. Sex has purposes and blessings quite apart from reproduction.


Our reproductive system is a part of our physical health. Sometimes it is dysfunctional or otherwise simply not healthy and doing what such is to do. Securing medical help for this is morally no different than going to a dentist for a toothache or my father going to the doctor for medication regarding his diabetes because he has an indocrine system that is dysfunctional. To say, "Couples should just accept their lack of health" is the same as saying to my father, "just accept that God made you a diabetic and die." I don't agree with that morality (or theology). Now, an aside: I tend to think married couples should consider adoption - I think that one of the most loving, caring things a couple can do - two negatives resulting in a positive for all. BUT, that's a beside to the HEALTH issue of whether persons with a health problem can morally seek help with that.

All that said, I am more than a little uncomfortable with such medical aide that results not in health or life but in death. Life purposely enabled and then purposely terminated is - in my personal and humble opinion - murder. To ME, that's where the morality comes in. Medicine to help a couple re-gain their health in order to reproduce is something I support, murder is something I do not. I realize - at this stage of medical development - there are times when these can be in conflict. Where such exists, I stand for life. Health care is not killing.



Just my half cent.


- Josiah





.

Last edited by Josiah : 11-28-2010 at 08:25 AM.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:13 PM
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giuliano View Post
It is important to ask ourselves why God put us in the circumstances we find ourselves, not questioning His Wisdom but rather questioning our own desires. Do we trust God to provide what we need? I realize that may sound harsh to some people, but it is a concern.

There are some too not meant to procreate in the fleshly manner but are as eunuchs for the kingdom (I'm sure you know the verse). In the time before Jesus, Isaiah wrote this in a similar vein to people about God could work even then:

Isaiah 56:3 Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.
4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.


I certainly do sympathize with people who want children and can't have them; but perhaps God has something better in store for them.

And what is wrong with adoption? If the commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves, couldn't we come to love someone else's child as much as if he were our own? Do we care only about "me and mine" after the flesh?
Yes! Look, the purposes of marriage are twofold: unity and procreation.

Human beings procreate through the sexual encounter. In coming together as one there is a fertility that God uses in speaking of his giving himself to his church. Sexual union between spouses is the physical expression in the body of what has taken place spiritually: it is a renewal of the marital vows. In uniting sexually the spouses become one, one single principle of procreation, of co-creativity. It is within the context of such marital unity that God posited the reproductive power in the human person.

But some want to posit such thrust not where God posited it but in technology! Aristotle rightfully said that "man is the only animal who acts contrary to his nature." It is there before our very eyes that God created sex for procreation and we still want to separate the sexual encounter from procreation. Can anyone offer a biblical or philosophical justification for such separation?

Of course that marriage is not exclusively for procreation but procreation is intrinsic to it. In effect, what makes marriage different from any other loving relationship is precisely that the sexual union of spouses becomes the matrix of their "one-flesh" unity. They become a single reproductive reality, thus, they become one. I love my mother but I am not married to her. What makes my marriage to my wife different from other loving relationships? The sexual act as the reproductive principle of the marriage. The unity of spouses is made fecund in the sexual act and thus God brings forth new life from it: marriage is a love sharing and life giving principle: both.

Last edited by SolaVerbumDei : 11-29-2010 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Thanks to the progress of the biological and medical sciences, man has at his disposal all kinds of therapeutic resources. These technologies can be very good but they also can bring dangers and temptations. One is the acquisition of power with unforeseeable consequences over human life at its very beginning and in its first stages of life: so we have abortion, contraception, and other technologies such as IV fertilization. Various procedures now make it possible to intervene and dominate the processes of procreation. This is not progress.

God created man in his own image and likeness: "male and female he created them" (Gen 1: 27 ), entrusting to them the task of "having dominion over the earth" (Gen 1:28). Science and technology are valuable resources for man when placed at his service and when they promote his integral development for the benefit of all; but they cannot of themselves show the meaning of existence and of human progress. It would on the one hand be illusory to claim that scientific research and its applications are morally neutral; on the other hand one cannot derive criteria for guidance from mere technical efficiency.

Which moral criteria must be applied in order to clarify the problems posed today in the field of biomedicine? The answer to this question presupposes a proper idea of the nature of the human person in his bodily dimension. For it is only in keeping with his true nature that the human person can achieve self-realization and this nature is at the same time corporal and spiritual. By virtue of its substantial union with a spiritual soul, the human body cannot be considered as a mere complex of tissues, organs and functions, nor can it be evaluated in the same way as the body of animals; rather it is a constitutive part of the person who manifests and expresses himself through it.

Pope John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this to the World Medical Association when he said:

“Each human person, in his absolutely unique singularity, is constituted not only by his spirit, but by his body as well. Thus, in the body and through the body, one touches the person himself in his concrete reality. To respect the dignity of man consequently amounts to safeguarding this identity of the man 'corpore et anima unus', as the Second Vatican Council says (Gaudium et Spes, 14, par.1). It is on the basis of this anthropological vision that one is to find the fundamental criteria for decision-making in the case of procedures which are not strictly therapeutic, as, for example, those aimed at the improvement of the human biological condition”.

The fundamental values connected with the techniques of artificial human procreation are two in our view:

a.the life of the human being called into existence and;
b.the special nature of the transmission of human life in marriage.


Advances in technology have now made it possible to procreate apart from sexual relations through the meeting in vitro of the germ-cells previously taken from the man and the woman. But what is technically possible is not for that very reason morally admissible. Careful reflection on this teaching of the Magisterium, Scripture, and on the evidence of reason, enables us to respond to the numerous moral problems posed by technical interventions upon the human being in the first phases of his life and upon the processes of his conception.

Technologies such as prenatal diagnosis and other therapeutic procedures respect the dignity of persons in the womb by encouraging healing and care for a new and fragile life. As with all medical interventions on any patient, one must uphold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it but are directed towards its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.

A Church document on these issues, Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin, is, IMHO, correct here:

“Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and subjects with rights: their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable "biological material". In the usual practice of in vitro fertilization, not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman's body; some are destroyed. Just as the Church condemns induced abortion, so she also forbids acts against the life of these human beings. It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained 'in vitro' for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial insemination or by means of "twin fission". By acting in this way the researcher usurps the place of God; and, even though he may be unaware of this, he sets himself up as the master of the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills defenceless human beings.”

It adds:

"The freezing of embryos, even when carried out in order to preserve the life of an embryo - cryopreservation - constitutes an offence against the respect due to human beings by exposing them to grave risks of death or harm to their physical integrity and depriving them, at least temporarily, of maternal shelter and gestation, thus placing them in a situation in which further offences and manipulation are possible.”

In effect, this is being used in places for all kinds of experiments where human beings are treated as material, tissue, discardable and malleable “stuff.”

The document continues:

“Development of the practice of in vitro fertilization has required innumerable fertilizations and destructions of human embryos. Even today, the usual practice presupposes a hyperovulation on the part of the woman: a number of ova are withdrawn, fertilized and then cultivated in vitro for some days. Usually not all are transferred into the genital tracts of the woman; some embryos, generally called "spare ", are destroyed or frozen. On occasion, some of the implanted embryos are sacrificed for various eugenic, economic or psychological reasons. Such deliberate destruction of human beings or their utilization for different purposes to the detriment of their integrity and life is contrary to the doctrine on procured abortion already recalled. The connection between in vitro fertilization and the voluntary destruction of human embryos occurs too often. This is significant: through these procedures, with apparently contrary purposes, life and death are subjected to the decision of man, who thus sets himself up as the giver of life and death by decree. This dynamic of violence and domination may remain unnoticed by those very individuals who, in wishing to utilize this procedure, become subject to it themselves. The facts recorded and the cold logic which links them must be taken into consideration for a moral judgment on IVF and ET (in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer): the abortion-mentality which has made this procedure possible thus leads, whether one wants it or not, to man's domination over the life and death of his fellow human beings and can lead to a system of radical eugenics.

For human procreation has specific characteristics by virtue of the personal dignity of the parents and of the children: the procreation of a new person, whereby the man and the woman collaborate with the power of the Creator, must be the fruit and the sign of the mutual self-giving of the spouses, of their love and of their fidelity. The fidelity of the spouses in the unity of marriage involves reciprocal respect of their right to become a father and a mother only through each other. The child has the right to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up within marriage: it is through the secure and recognized relationship to his own parents that the child can discover his own identity and achieve his own proper human development. The parents find in their child a confirmation and completion of their reciprocal self-giving: the child is the living image of their love, the permanent sign of their conjugal union, the living and indissoluble concrete expression of their paternity and maternity. By reason of the vocation and social responsibilities of the person, the good of the children and of the parents contributes to the good of civil society; the vitality and stability of society require that children come into the world within a family and that the family be firmly based on marriage. The tradition of the Church and anthropological reflection recognize in marriage and in its indissoluble unity the only setting worthy of truly responsible procreation."

I posted it for your consideration.
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Old 11-28-2010, 02:59 PM
Giuliano
 
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

To Sola,

Let me add some science to the mix now. A study at Temple University shows that test tube babies are not quite the same.

First of all they may inherit the genes which make natural conception possible; and for some reason, the risk for heart diseases, obesity and Type Two diabetes increases.

The researchers studied samples of placental and cord blood DNA from 10 ART children and 12 naturally conceived children.

To differentiate in the levels of the chromosome, DNA methylation--modification that switches genes [basic, functional units of heredity, each occupying a specific place on a chromosome.] on and off, the research team examined 800 genes in the two groups.

After analysis, the team found that five to 10 percent of these chromosome alterations were dissimilar in children born through ART, which resulted in the nearby genes turning on and off.


Also, children born as the result of anonymous sperm donations have psychological problems when told about it according to a report from the Commission on Parenthood’s Future. I wonder if they would have psychological problems anyway since their parents had a secret they couldn't tell them about.
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Old 11-28-2010, 03:06 PM
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Default Re: Christian perspectives on assisted reproductive technology, ART.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SolaVerbumDei View Post
The natural way to reproduce is there in human nature! It is all over Scripture too.
Does scripture also declare ART to be unacceptable, or unequivocally state that natural means are the only way? On such an important matter, the instructions should be clear.
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