Noelle celebrated her 2-year-old birthday at the White House last May. President Bush announced to the press conference, “You all are invited to partake in a little birthday cake.” She is just an ordinary little girl, but when she was frozen as an embryo, many people were fighting over her fate.
The debate continues, as some people recognize the thousands of frozen embryos as children to be adopted, while others argue that they are only cells to be used for medical research. In this lesson we will look at the courageous testimony of those that are standing up for the dignity of these tiny human lives.
New methods create new problems
Each year thousands of couples who have problems conceiving children, try other methods such as in-vitro fertilization in which the woman’s eggs are fertilized outside of her body and then re-inserted back into her body. This process often creates many extra embryos as most couples choose to fertilize more eggs than needed to increase the chances of success.
Even though in-vitro fertilization is often done with the best of intentions, people rarely see some of the problems involved. The Church condemns in-vitro fertilization because a child deserves to be conceived by normal means.
Always a child of God
However, the Church clearly teaches that once a child is conceived by natural process or by in-vitro, the embryo is truly a child of God and deserves all the respect that should be given to every human being.
Once a child is conceived by in-vitro fertilization, the parents then face several options. They can leave the extra embryos in deep freeze and postpone a decision. They can have the extra embryos destroyed. They turn them over to scientists for stem-cell research (which would also destroy the embryo). Or they give them up for adoption. In Noelle’s case, her parents chose this last option.
The adoption story
A loving couple chose to adopt Noelle while she was still only an embryo. Paige and Stuart Faulk wanted children but could not get pregnant for four years, so they started praying about what kind of adoption to pursue. When they heard about the Snowflake Frozen Embryo Adoption program, they were excited. Paige understood that “they are lives, just frozen. I just started crying and knew that was what I wanted to do.”
The couple actually adopted eight embryos, and although only one actually survived the difficult medical process, they see all eight as children given to them by God. “All of them are now where they are meant to be.”
Paige speaks about her daughter with pride and joy, “I want her to know how much she is loved and how God’s hand has been in her life.” She is really smart, and as soon as you teach her something, she’ll say “I do it!” Her large brown eyes with long lashes are loving and caring, but also playful and energetic. Someday her mother will tell her of the battle that was fought to save her life when she was too small to defend herself.
Press conference at the White House
President Bush hosted 21 families who had adopted frozen embryos, thanking them for their generosity in affirming that every embryo is already a human being. “The children here today are reminders that every human life is a precious gift of matchless value.”
“The children here today remind us that there is no such thing as a spare embryo. Every embryo is unique and genetically complete, like every other human being. And each of us started out our life this way. These lives are not raw material to be exploited, but gifts. And I commend each of the families here today for accepting the gift of these children and offering them the gift of your love.”
The dignity of the person is more than size or power; it is present just because he exists as a spiritual being unlike any other creation on earth.
Some abortion advocates argued that the embryo is not yet a human being. They want to use these tiny bodies for stem-cell experiments, which they believe will result in new medical cures. They are fighting for ownership of these frozen embryos, and for government funding for their research. But the experiments kill the embryos.
There is an alternative to using human embryos for stem cell research: adult stem cells. These are cells taken from a person who is already grown, as well as from a newborn baby’s umbilical cord blood, and taking them does not harm the person. There have been many positive results in treating disease using adult stem cells, and more successes are happening every day.
Human embryos are human lives. Vocal advocates of embryo use make incredible promises of cures, but these claims are seriously questioned by many other scientists. At the heart of the question is whether man can kill innocent lives, claiming to help others. It may be easier to use embryos because they cannot protest unless someone stands up for them, but we are called to live with integrity in doing what is right and not what is easiest.
Witnesses to human life
Even the Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency, which sponsors the Snowflake program, acknowledges that they are trying to put a solution to an undesirable problem that already exists: abuses in playing with fertilization. Yet Christians have never seen the evils of the world as something to escape from, but rather to face with courage and find an opportunity to do good.
Moral theologian Fr. Thomas Williams, LC, says, “The question we need to ask is not how did they come to be, but rather what can we do to help them.” More and more people are seeing that embryo adoption is a true option of love. “The promotion of embryo adoption underscores the reality that each human being, no matter how small, is worthy of care by the community. As society’s consciousness of this reality grows, I would foresee a decrease in the production of embryos.”
Salt of the earth
Christ tells us that our example has more impact than we realize, just salt can give flavor to an entire dish. As an example, one girl decided not to have an abortion because of seeing her neighbor, an elderly woman, who risked snow and ice to go to Mass every day. The girl asked why she bothered, and the woman answered that she was offering it up for an end to abortion. The girl decided to not have an abortion and to welcome her child. The girl said that if it was that important to her neighbor, it must be a big deal. After she had her baby, she understood why.
In this debate, many politicians, families, doctors, and students have been courageous and steadfast in defending human life. Even one person, spreading this story about Noelle, can help people to see the value of the little lives that are frozen now. There are still 400,000 embryos waiting for someone to speak up for them, and give them a chance to live.
“ Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” Luke 9:48
“And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. ” Matthew 5:13
God loves life, which he has created, not death.
(Pope Benedict XVI, July 10, 2005 Angelus)
In a society, thirsty for genuine human values, the community of believers must be the bearer of the light of the Gospel, with the certainty that charity is above all the communication of truth.
(Pope Benedict XVI July 4, 2005)
Other Church Teaching
“No objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable advantage to science, to other human beings, or to society, can in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos or fetuses, whether viable or not, either inside or outside the mother’s body.”(Vatican Instruction on Respect for Human Life)
Saints and Heroes
A Witness of Generous Love
BLESSED RAFAELA IBARRA:
was born in Spain in 1843. As a child she had a love for the Eucharist and spiritual things. Some expected her to be a nun, but she wanted to show that one can love God fervently in a genuinely Christian marriage where God is a part of the covenant. She had children of her own, but also adopted nieces and nephews who were left orphaned. She took in her elderly parents when they became too weak to care for themselves, and several relatives as well. Not forgetting the needs of the Church, she used her money to establish a Hospice to help women and girls at risk. She founded a religious order, the Sisters of the Holy Guardian Angels, to care for these girls. She died in 1900. She was beatifi ed by Pope John Paul II.
A Man of Courage and Compassion
BLESSED CEREFINO GIMENEZ MALLA :
was martyred by the Communists in the Spanish Civil War in 1936. He was a Gypsy, and he married a Gypsy woman named Teresa. He was a good husband despite the difficulties of constant wandering and upheaval,
and he supported his family as an upright and honest horse trader. They were unable to have children of their own, so they adopted a niece, Josefi na, and gave her all of the love and affection that she needed. Cerefi no was
devoted to praying the rosary, but he became more famous among his neighbors for his goodness to all people. In the Christian persecutions that broke out during the war, he was imprisoned and tortured for defending a riest. He was offered freedom if he agreed to stop praying the rosary, but he cried “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King!) and was executed with the rosary in his hands.
COHERENCE: logical, orderly and consistent in relation of parts
COURAGE: quality of spirit that enables you to face danger of pain without showing fear
GENEROSITY: Giving freely of our own possessions, time and or talent to someone else.
IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION: Fertilization of an egg outside the body of a female by the addition of sperm.
INTEGRITY: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.
JOY: Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.
STEADFASTNESS: Fixed or unchanging; steady, faithful.