Help for the infertile
Today in the United States, one out of every eight couples struggles with infertility. The deep desire for a couple to bring children into the world is suddenly confronted with the unthinkable, leaving the couple in an emotional whirlwind.
One wife, Laura, who struggled with infertility for seven years, notes, “It was the most emotional pain I have ever experienced in my life. I felt as though I was being punished and was unworthy. I felt completely alone in my suffering.”
The secular answer to this heartbreak is typically an approach that separates the union of the spouses from the creation of the child, treating the body of each spouse as an instrument to achieve a goal through the use of artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs) and treating the child as a product of technology rather than a gift of marriage.
Laura’s experience sums up the experience of many. “Even doctors didn’t seem to want to figure out why we couldn’t get pregnant and offered IVF (in vitro fertilization) as our only solution,” she said.
Moreover, many of these ARTs make use of donors (both egg and sperm) as well as surrogate mothers, all of which treat those who donate as commodities and encourage the mistreatment of the fertility of these young persons for a profit. IVF not only separates the unitive aspect of marriage from the procreative, it also results in the conception of many embryos (new children) who are either destroyed after the more “desirable” ones are chosen or frozen for indefinite periods of time to be used for later attempts for pregnancy or for stem cell research. Many of these embryos are abandoned altogether.
Separation of the unitive aspect from the procreative aspect of marriage through ARTs leads to many abuses of the couple, the children and those who “assist” the couple in some way, as none of these ARTs respects the dignity of the person as a creation in the image and likeness of God.
Yet not all help for the couple struggling with infertility is an affront to the dignity of the person or the beauty of marriage. It is the design of God that the spouses are able to create a child.
Infertility treatments that seek to find the underlying problems that are causing infertility and restore the health of the spouses without interfering with the unitive aspect of creating new life respect the dignity of the person as well as the dignity of the process by which new life comes into the world. Methods such as the use of charting of a woman’s monthly cycle and other diagnostic tools, coupled with the use of hormones, medications or surgeries can be used to identify problems and restore reproductive health.
One such promising approach that respects the dignity of the person and the couple struggling with infertility is NAPROtechnology. This new science stresses fertility “care” rather than fertility “control,” using the charted cycles of the woman to identify potential health concerns that may be restored by various methods, cooperating with the design of the Creator. Specially trained NAPRO physicians assist couples struggling with infertility with a real hope that seeks to restore bodily health that ultimately leads to the a restoration of the couple’s natural, healthy ability to conceive.
Laura notes that in her long struggle she ultimately stumbled onto NAPROtechnology by the grace of God. To finally find a solution that works with God’s design was a great relief to her and her husband. “I finally felt as if someone was listening, cared and wanted to get to the root of my problem,” she said.
In just three months Laura, her husband and her NAPRO physician were able to identify the problem with the beautiful result of a restoration of her health and their fertility … and a baby girl!
Debbie Shinskie is director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office. Local resources on NAPROtechnology include the Woman’s New Life Center, www.womansnewlife.com; and the Gianna Center of the Gulf South, www.giannagulfsouth.org. National Fertility Care Week will be celebrated April 3-9.