Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The tangled web of reproductive technology. . .

The great problem with our technology is often that it gets ahead of our values -- it goes where we are not ready to go, confronts us with choices we are not ready to make, and presents us with decisions we have not yet thought through.  I have written often of the tangled web of technology and values, morals and choices, intentions and failures that represents noble desire betrayed by lack of clear moral truth.

Nowhere is this more pointed than in the issue of surrogacy.  If you would have told me 30 years ago that I would personally know people who had been asked by family members to act as surrogate moms to their children, I would have laughed in your face.  It seems an impossible future.  Sadly, I have known more than several who have been asked by sisters, step-sister, and cousins to carry their baby for them.  In at least one case this meant being the egg donor as well.  After anguished weeks of wrestling back and forth, all of them declined.  In a couple of cases it seems to have permanently distanced the previously close relations between the women.  There is no lack of tears spilled over it without any real resolution.  The women were still without child and those requested to be surrogates still felt regret and pain over what they still believe was the right decision to say no.

Whose baby is it?  Now here is another story from CNN of a surrogacy gone bad, conflict, flawed choices, and unsatisfying result.  There are no heroes or heroines here.  The whole thing is a train wreck.  In the end the more noble choice was made over abortion and the life of a child is preserved.  The question remains.  Whose baby is this child?  It just depends...  What we all seem to have forgotten is that the child is the Lord's and that the care of children is not a question of ownership but of trust, not an issue of possession but of care, nurture, and love.  I wish this were an aberration but every story of surrogacy I have encountered has been left with some conflict, disappointment, pain, and loss.  If for this reason only, we might say "no" but we as a culture are too in love with potential to reign in the freedom to do what we have not yet thoughtfully considered.  So our technology takes us far in advance of where our sense of right and wrong are, playing catch up to all the "what ifs" and "should nots" of a possibility embraced before understood all the consequences and ramifications.

As St. Paul reminds us, not all things possible are beneficial...  Just because we can, does not mean we ought.  You listen to the story...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Richard Eyer, the LCMS bioethicist, coined the phrase "tyranny of the possible" in an article about genetic engineering. It relates to many of the bioethical issues of the day including this one. He defines it as being "coerced to do whatever science is able to do," even when those things are morally and spiritually unacceptable. He calls Christians to look to God and His Word for guidance and not feel obligated to do what is expected.

The women you reference know first hand the tremendous power brought to bear by the culture and the personal cost they paid to bear their cross faithfully.