Hypothetical: A drug that guarantees zygote implantation

Hi everyone. I’m in a discussion with an acquaintance. It’s not my goal to ferry questions and answers back and forth from that discussion. However, I would like to see if my response to his question is consistent with Catholic teaching and to gain other people’s views. It’s also something that I’m genuinely curious about myself. The end goal is that I’m better able to address this question in the future.

The discussion is regarding abortion, the dignity of the human person from fertilization (conception?) until natural death. He wants to know how we should respond to failed implantation and miscarriages, and specifically asked: “Do you think that the preventable death of unimplanted zygotes is a serious problem that should be addressed (by say treating people with a medication that harmlessly increases the rate of zygote implantation)?” I think this is a leading question, with a potential follow up of: “Then should women be required by law to take this medication?”

This is my response:

I do not believe so, though I do not say so with 100% certainty. An abortion is a violation of the moral law. Arguments can be made for encouraging the use of such medications to encourage implantation and better the health of a fetus, but forcing the use of a drug on a person strikes me as also being a violation of a person’s dignity (barring any real mental illness in which they are no longer rational), and thus also immoral.

A failed implantation or a miscarriage is and should be sad, but it’s not a violation of the moral law by the mother. I think that is a key distinction that must be made. The important factor is that we respect the dignity of the human person until natural death, and a grave evil is when we don’t respect the dignity of life. Natural death, such as a miscarriage, isn’t necessarily a violation of this dignity, and there is a balance that must be struck with the dignity of the mother as a person, so long as we don’t use this to justify grave evils such as intentionally terminating the life of an innocent.

Yes? No?

Try contacting the National Catholic Bioethics Center. They could give a better response than we laymen.

Having suffered two ourselves, we were advised that typically (external trauma excepted) miscarriages happen for a reason. The body has a way of knowing when all is not right with the zygote/embryo. To artificially force implantation when the body itself is trying to reject it would seem to be its own violation of the Natural Law.

This is not accurate. Natural law is not “what happens in nature” or “what would happen in nature if we do not try to affect it.” It means treating people and things in accord with their nature, or how God designed them. For example, eyes were designed to enable us to see, even though some people are born blind. It is in accord with natural law to try to address or correct blindness. Likewise, humans were designed to be conceived as a result of intercourse, nurtured in the womb, and raised by parents. So it would not be a violation of natural law to facilitate this end by helping to ensure that embryos are implanted correctly, even if the embryos in question have genetic problems that would have precluded implantation otherwise and even if they will later develop into infants and adults with disabilities.

That said, I think the OP is correct that taking such a drug would not be morally required, because miscarriage, although a physical evil, is not a sin or violation of moral law on the part of the parents. The death of a pre-implanted embryo that was not brought about by abortion would be akin to natural death, and although we may take steps to prevent natural death, we are not required to go to extraordinary lengths to do so. Requiring all women of child-bearing age to take this drug strikes me as an extraordinary length (especially because presumably this drug, like all drugs, would have side effects), though I would argue that it would be moral for any women wishing to conceive to take such a drug if one were available.

Tarpeian Rock, I’m sorry for the miscarriages your family has suffered. God bless.

I agree that there are many couples struggling with first trimester miscarriages that would love to have access to such a medication. My DD has endometriosis, level 4 and has undergone 2 surgeries to remove endos from not only her uterus, but intestines and appendix. Her specialist told her that in all likelihood she would have some difficulty in achieving a pregnancy, and if a drug like this would help, then I’m all for it.:rolleyes:

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