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Why Adoption of Frozen Human Embryos Could Be Acceptable

9/1/2003 - 9:50 PM PST

(Page 4 of 5)

reason that she does not rent anything.

The difference between renting a womb and opening one's womb -- and one's life -- giving it generously, heroically, to receive "gratis et amore" a life that is frail, denigrated and otherwise condemned to extermination, and to make oneself responsible for it from that moment on -- the difference between those two acts is so great that the mere comparison is disproportionate and inappropriate.

Q: If it is assumed that human life is an absolute value and is incommensurable, then it is necessary to do everything possible to save a person's life. Therefore, the adoption of embryos seems not only licit, but even obligatory. However, no one can be obliged to adopt ...

A: The answer can begin with an example. Everything possible must be done to save a person who is drowning. But no one is obliged to throw himself into the river to do so.

Responsible parenthood demands, obviously, that no one be obliged to adopt. But adoption, like normal generation of one's children, is left to the exclusive judgment of conscience of the couple, who in their choice must be guided by the criteria of responsibility and generosity.

But this very freedom implies that one must allow and favor those couples that freely, responsibly, generously and heroically wish to adopt embryos. Prenatal adoption is not obligatory for any one for the simple reason that heroism cannot be demanded of any one. But to impede heroism is to impede a moral good.

In regard to the embryos, their adoption is posed as the least possible evil, to the degree that it is possible -- namely, to the degree that those embryos can be effectively implanted. In regard to the couple, it is an extraordinary moral good, and, because it is extraordinary, it cannot be obligatory, and because it is a good, neither can it be impeded.

Q: In the same way, starting from the fact that human life is an absolute value and is incommensurable, and that it is necessary to do everything possible to save a person's life, the availability of a possible mother would be enough as a sufficient condition. In the absence of a couple of stable parents, recourse could be taken to single women or those with homosexual orientation -- so long as no problems appear in the reproductive realm -- since the life of the embryo is what must be guaranteed ...

A: Obviously, the life of the embryo is the first good and is the first thing that must be guaranteed.

But, to the degree possible, it must also be guaranteed proper personal development. And this means regulating prenatal adoption, as done in the adoption of those already born, so that embryos will be implanted in those women who can offer guarantees of good personal development to the child. The law that the Spanish government is about to modify, must keep this in mind.

Q: If human life is an absolute and incommensurable value, and if it is necessary to do everything possible to save a person's life, would not the following values, recognized by a personalist and Christian anthropology, remain subordinated: the right of the child to be gestated in the womb of his own mother; the right of the child to be born in a context that also guarantees the balanced growth of the personality; the value of maternity as a personal event which excludes as a line of principle the separation of the biological, physiological and emotional processes; the representation of human procreation as an interpersonal act of a triadic nature -- father, mother, child?

A: As said at the beginning, the difference must be made again, between moral acts and rights.

All those values recognized by a personalist and Christian anthropology are values that are arranged in order of importance according to a value that is original and prior to them all, as is the assumption and necessary condition for them to be present: [That value is] human life.

Human life has priority over these enunciated values. Otherwise, it would have to be concluded that the existence of those who have seen those rights violated has no meaning -- and this is absurd, among other things, because it would exclude a good part of humanity.

Moreover, the objection is untenable as, in fact, the frozen embryo has already lost those rights: Its biological mother has abandoned it; so has its family; the biological maternity has been completely perverted and subverted; the same has happened with the act of its human procreation. ... The evil is already done. Only prenatal adoption can, to a very limited degree, try to repair in some way such injustices.

Q: If the value of maternity is subordinated to the value of life -- as a personal event that excludes in the line of principle the separation of the biological, physiological and emotional processes -- and it is admitted that in exceptional cases it is licit to ...

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