British Brainiacs … or maniacs?

I just arrived in London on July 25 and what do you know? The Daily Telegraph has two remarkable articles in the first section, neither of which do much to reinforce the culture of life. [Editor's note: These two articles are not available online.]

The first, entitled “Stop at two to save the world, parents told,” details the viewpoint of writers who have just been published in the British Medical Journal. The doctors are recommending that general practitioners talk with their patients about the negative effects large families have on the climate. They recommend that all couples be urged to have no more than two children. This is, in my humble opinion, quite similar to advising Americans that anything more than three bags of trash a week is unacceptable. The idea behind the article is clearly to diminish the value of children and parental prerogatives in favor of environmentalism, the new religion.

The inconvenient truth in a scenario like this is, of course, moral relativism. But wait, the plot will now thicken.

The writers of the article tell us that it will not be necessary for nations to resort to the “coercive” practices followed in China and India, but rather should rely on the increased use of birth control to avoid “unplanned pregnancy.” After all, body pollution is far more preferable to air pollution.

They also noted that the Optimum Population Trust , a UK pressure group, has calculated that “each new UK birth will be responsible for 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions … than a new birth in Ethiopia.”

Thankfully, one member of the working group publishing the article disagrees and tells the Daily Telegraph that dirty development is the actual cause of climate change: “What we need to do is focus on improving our standard of living by clean development and that can be done without substantial changes in population policy.”

On the same page is an article entitled “Stop smokers having IVF, say doctors.” Between the habit of smoking and the habit of overeating, these professionals believe they have the right to dictate habits that are acceptable should someone want to use reproductive technology to achieve pregnancy. However, these same experts have no problem directly killing as many embryonic preborn children as they wish, for quality control purposes or otherwise. What a dichotomy!

This article also speaks of the survey done to mark Louise Brown’s 30th birthday. You might remember that she was the first in vitro fertilization baby to be permitted to survive her mom’s pregnancy and be born alive. Nobody really knows how many embryonic babies Doctors Edwards and Steptoe  killed before they “succeeded” in creating Louise, and it seems nobody wants to ask.

In the survey, 200 so-called experts were asked about lifestyle factors and agreed that activities such as smoking should be taken into account before allowing patients to undergo an IVF procedure.

It is estimated that more than three million IVF babies have been born worldwide, and in Great Britain alone, it is reported that 32,000 people have had fertility treatments. What is perhaps most interesting about the article is the comment that infertility among couples of childbearing age is expected to increase, and yet not a single word is spoken about the underlying causes of that expected increase.

Would that these researchers were as honest about the price being paid for promiscuous lifestyles and the use of birth control as they are about warning people not to smoke or overeat. Total honesty does not seem to be in the equation.

Both articles represent similar attitudes toward the freedom families should have to raise their families in an affirming culture. Controlling population by any means while at the same time mechanizing the process that creates people is at the very least, horrific, and at worst, a sure sign that evil has overtaken justice and human rights.

We should be proud that the Catholic Church saw this danger in reproductive technology early on and defined it as evil in Donum Vitae.

Furthermore, let us not forget that in a just society, human beings are respected for their integral humanity and are never commodified or otherwise denied their identity as the most valuable gifts God has ever created. Human rights are not granted by committees of doctors or fertility researchers; they are granted by the Author of life and should be affirmed by society – that is, if the society in question is civilized rather than mechanized.