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The Beatitudes and Pro-Life Policy
External Affairs Liaison
Them Before Us | 18 August 2022
It doesn’t take a religious perspective for one to know that it is wrong to kill innocent human beings. Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute, breaks down the immorality of abortion in this simple syllogism: “Premise one: It is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Premise two: Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being. Therefore, Conclusion: Abortion is morally wrong.”[i] Disregard for innocent human life at its earliest stage not only applies to abortion, but to the In Vitro Fertilization process, or IVF, as the fertility industry is a multi-billion dollar industry[ii] profiting off of the creation and destruction of embryonic human beings.
The IVF business is a multi-billion dollar money-maker because, rather than focusing on respecting innocent life, many of us in society obsess over the “negative” beatitudes. These negative beatitudes seek to substitute wealth, pleasure, power, and vain self-esteem for the “positive” beatitudes, which seek to find happiness only in the pursuit of Christ-like, self-sacrificial love.[iii] How can those striving to preserve the dignity of human life from the moment of fertilization use the beatitudes to influence pro-life policy on IVF issues?
The first positive beatitude is “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The IVF process is not merciful towards human life. IVF treats human lives as scientific experiments by intentionally creating multiple lives, with the knowledge these children will have their lives snuffed out immediately due to their not “making the grade,” a determination made through preimplantation genetic screenings. The IVF process in general subjects all embryos to a gaming wheel of chance, whether through the transfer process, their being discarded through outright disposal, through scientific research, or by having their budding lives suspended indefinitely as human icicles.[iv] We can’t be vessels of God’s mercy and compassion while treating our most innocent members of society as disposable commodities.
The second and third positive beatitudes, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” and “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied,” beg for laws restricting preimplantation genetic screenings for down syndrome and other genetic afflictions, and for the restriction of selective reduction for “too many” implanted fetuses, or for fetuses with physical afflictions. Seeking to eliminate any “imperfections” in our children doesn’t show a willingness to strive only for God’s will in our lives, as it doesn’t show an openness towards achieving righteousness and allowing God to help with any struggles faced.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” demands legislation restricting laws from requiring insurance companies to provide IVF coverage. There are currently eighteen states possessing laws which require coverage for fertility treatments for state-regulated insurance plans.[v] We must be sources of mercy, and this giving away of God’s mercy allows us to transform into peacemakers. While being required to provide employees with IVF insurance may appear merciful to those struggling with infertility, we are not conduits of peace when providing the means for the destruction of human life.
The first negative beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” as a detachment from material possessions, asks for legislation which limits the number of embryos allowed to be created at one time. While children are not material possessions, when pursuing acts which create an abundance of human lives to achieve our desires, we are treating humans as material items- our property which we own to manipulate and experiment on at their expense. Given that, overall, 30 embryos are created for every child born through IVF,[vi] no wonder we have over a million embryos in frozen storage in the United States alone.[vii] Legislation should also be enacted to require every couple undergoing IVF treatment to make sure that every embryo created is given a chance at life through transfer, even if couples end up with more children than initially intended.[viii]
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” encourages us to avoid addiction to pleasurable feelings, but rather asks us to set aside some measure of pleasurable feelings in pursuit of the will of God. Scientists constantly seek pleasure through the promises of scientific breakthroughs while they experiment on embryos for the purpose of curing disorders[ix] and even creating three-person embryos.[x] The will of God certainly does not involve the intentional destruction of His most innocent humans. Legislation which prohibits the discarding of leftover embryos, and their indefinite freezing must be enacted to embody the third negative beatitude, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Laws must be in place to require parents to transfer all of their embryos, including those they might have considered to store in indefinite freezing. Parents must be required to pick up their children and transfer them, which would ultimately bless parents with detachment from the grim power that accompanies the present situation of their having to choose whether or not these children will die immediately or gain a chance at life.
As difficult as it is to struggle with infertility, we can’t make our desires to have children into a god which separates us from reaching our intended perfection in Christ. When we instead seek the approval and honor of God instead of the honor of the world, we will then practice the fourth negative beatitude, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”