REPRODUCTION BIOETHICS: ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION AND IN VITRO FERTILIZATION

In making decisions in the midst of chaos, human confronted with ethics. According to Indonesia Dictionary (1998), ethic means “what is right or wrong adopted by a certain group of people or community”. K. Bertens (2007: 6), claims an understanding of ethics: “Ethics is a moral value and norm, which become the main principle to humans individually or in groups in controlling their behaviors.” It implies that ethics related to moral values and norms, which are attached to our principles, that based on our beliefs or the foundation of faith. Therefore, we as believers have Christian ethics based on scripture, which is the Bible. Because we assure and believe that the Bible is the word of God, a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (Psalms 119:105 KJV). So, Christian ethics could be different from other religions or beliefs.

There are lots of ethics subsidiaries, one of them is ethics related to biology and medicine, which is bioethic. Few of the problems discussed in bioethics are artificial reproduction technology, include artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. Recently, both topics are being discussed, including the believers. So the author considered that it’s necessary to elaborate this topic in this article.

What are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization program? Why are more and more people using both of these methods to produce offsprings? May Christian use these methods? This article will discover the topic in the theological review, to equip churches who want to have children, so they’re doing it according to the word of God. This article will also discover Biblical values about reproduction and how should Christian respond to those methods.

Meaning of artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization

Artificial Insemination (AI) is a technology that supports reproduction process by accumulating sperm and mechanically put it into women’s reproduction duct. First research about AI of pets is reported by Lazaro Spallanzano (a physiologist and anatomy from Italia, 1780). He succeeds in practicing this method on amphibians and dogs. The system is then followed by several countries such as Italia, Russia, Denmark, etc. on horse, cow, and sheep farms. Advances in artificial insemination technology on animals runs rapidly and massively.

Later on, the method is being used on a human. It was first done in 1790 by John Hunter (a Scottish anatomist and surgeon), he put germs into the wife of a linen cloth trimmer, using her husband’s sperm. After almost a century, William Panacost, a professor in a medical school in Philadelphia perform artificial insemination using sperm donors (Chang, 2009:22).

There are several possibilities on how this method is done:

  • The husband’s sperm implanted into the reproduction duct of the wife. This procedure called AIH (Artificial Insemination by a Husband).
  • Donated sperm (individually or sperm bank), a man’s sperm implanted in the reproduction duct of a married woman. This procedure called AID (Artificial Insemination by a Donor).
  • Sperms from sperm bank, a man’s sperm implanted into a single woman. This occurs when a woman is expecting a child without a husband.

The differences between artificial insemination (AI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are:

  • AI is being performed by simply implant qualified sperms into the womb, to occur conception. While IVF is a complex procedure, which involve both sperms and eggs placed in a “petri’s cup” for fertilization to occur. After the egg is fertilized and forms an embryo, the embryo is implanted into the uterus after 5 days of fertilization.
  • AI depends and adjusts to the ovulation process of women to find out the level of success, while IVF doesn’t. But still, it will be monitored to extract the fertilization of the.
  • Fertilization process on AI occurs inside the womb, however the patient must go through the examination 2 weeks after conducting an insemination. While IVF, fertilization occurs outside the womb, when conception has occurred in the cup, the embryo will be implanted into the uterus.
  • Level of success of AI is lower than IVF.
  • AI is more desirable for most couples because it’s affordable.

Bible Principles about Bioethics

Here’re important things that we need to understand from the Bible related to reproduction bioethics: marriage holiness, continuation of generation, murder, and the glory of God.

First, marriage holiness. In the whole Bible, God requires His people to not profaning their life and marriage, because God is holy. Words “keep the bed pure” (Hebrews 13:7 – NIV), could be translated as we can’t confront a man and a woman outside of marriage.

                  Second, the continuation of generation. Genesis 1:27-28, God blessed humans who were created in His image and said to them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Meaning it’s a common thing when a family desire to have one or several children. Even God gave that capabilities to the first human exist, Adam and Eve, and they brought children, some of them are Cain, Abel, and Seth.

However, there are some women who have infertility. In the old testaments, there’s a culture that if the wife is barren, the husband reserve a right to take female servants who work for the family (Abram took Hagar and have Ishmael as their first-born – Genesis 16:3-4), or took another woman as his wife (Elkanah took Peninnah because of Hannah, her wife is childless – 1 Samuel 1:1-5), to produce offspring.

Another story tells that when infertility occurs, a couple prays and ask God to open the womb, they pray for a miracle. It proved that God answered their prayers. Sarah in her old age gave birth to Isaac, as God’s promised (Genesis 21:3). Hannah who’s barren and God opened her womb, so she gave birth to a son, named Samuel and to the other five (1 Samuel 1:20; 2:21)

In the new testaments, there’s Elizabeth which was also barren at first. But, by the grace of God Elizabeth with her husband, Zacharias who has aged, gave birth to a son, named John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-64). So, from the stories above, we see there’re some important values. First, if a family desires to have a child, they can ask God in prayers. God answers our prayers and for Him, nothing is impossible. Second, normally or miraculously, son and daughter are the results of the relationship between husband and wife.

Third, murder. Sixth law of the ten commandments says “you shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 20:13), it includes: abortion, mercy killing (injecting a dying patient or shoot down a dying soldier), and prevent fertilized eggs to stick to the cervix.

Fourth, the glory of God. Many people’s having a wrong view that child with disabilities bring dishonor. But God says that people with disorders were born so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him (John 9:3). For example is Nick Vujicic, who has no hands and feet, glorifies God by supporting, preaching, and motivating lots of people. To avoid disability, there’re methods to get rid of the “bad” seed and pick out “prime” seed. Whereas in the natural process, God’s in control of natural selection, so even though God allows the birth of bad seeds, it’ll bring glory to His name.

Christian responses to Artificial Insemination and In Vitro Fertilization

Both AI and IVF, those practices become consideration for Christians:

First, from whom the male seeds (sperm) come from? If it’s from the dead husband or from another people who’re not her husband (either it’s stranger or not), then it’s contrary to God’s words. The seed must come from the husband. If it’s not possible, it would be best to avoid AI and IVF.

Second, how to take male seeds (sperm)? If it’s obtained through masturbation or sex outside marriage, God forbids it. If the sperm is needed, then the husband must have it with his wife. If it’s not possible, it would be best to avoid AI and IVF.

Third, how is the selection process of male seeds (sperm)? If human’s consideration becomes the basis of the process, then it is not necessary. Humans have a tendency to control everything, include the sperms selection process. In marriage, there’s natural selection, set by God Himself. Of so many sperms, there’s only one sperm allowed to fertilize egg cells. However, human focus on earning the eugenic seed. Christians have been taught to do God’s will, not by his own desires.

Fourth, whether he’s a man or woman, single or married, he should not perform AI or AFV, by renting out his womb or even renting a womb.

Fifth, what’s the motivation behind AI or IVF? If it’s to earn some benefits, ex. to get some money by commercially renting out a womb, then you should not practice these procedures.

Closing

After understanding the Bible’s principle regarding AI and IVF, the conclusion is everything that we do good intentions are not enough, follow His words. No matter how good the intentions are if it’s not according to what God’s desires, it will bring no blessing. You should not have wrong motives before God.

It will be best to follow His favor, by praying to ask God to give children (miracles happened because God answers this kind of longing), medical check-up to restore reproduction organs, adopting children, giving scholarships to school-age children, supporting orphanages, etc. Rather than trying so hard to get a child with AI or IVF, but without God’s permission. If you want it so badly, it would be best to have a consultation with a pastor, so there will be no wrong decisions.

by: peter freshman

 

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