Why are feeding tubes okay and artificial fertilization methods not okay?


#1

This may sound stupid but as a medical professional and a Catholic I am struggling with the Terri Schiavo case. As the medical profession gets better and better at saving lives we inadvertently save some who would have died only thirty years ago under the same circumstances. Christopher Reeve would have died thirty years ago. Terri Schiavo would have died thirty years ago. Do we as humans not step into the world of playing God sometimes?

On the other hand, we now have the means to help older and barren women to get pregnant, using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their own husbands, and sometimes lesser means. An act that brings new life and joy into these couples’ lives. The Church has condemed these medical means of helping infertility.

Why is feeding someone in an unnatural way who cannot talk and cannot feed his/herself not condemed also?


#2

You have a number of assumptions bundled in here that we’ll need to unpack:

[quote=CTShyanne]As the medical profession gets better and better at saving lives we inadvertently save some who would have died only thirty years ago under the same circumstances. Christopher Reeve would have died thirty years ago. Terri Schiavo would have died thirty years ago. Do we as humans not step into the world of playing God sometimes?
[/quote]

First of all, only some areas of the world have the means of treating individuals who suffer catastrophic injuries, as did Christopher Reeve and Terri Schiavo. Even today, in certain parts of the world, they would have died without the medical training and technology available in First-World countries.

For that matter, there are some “ordinary” diseases and injuries that would take the lives of Third-World people today but are easily treatable in the First World. Would you say that an American needing a heart bypass operation should be “allowed to die” because he would die anyway if he lived in some parts of Africa or Asia? Should someone suffering a treatable infection in Canada not be given routine antibiotic therapy because those medications are not readily-available in remote parts of the world?

If the means exist to treat a person, then he should be treated, regardless of whether that same treatment was available thirty years ago or is currently available thousands of miles away. Time and location should not negate an individual’s right to humane treatment should treatment options exist.

[quote=CTShyanne]On the other hand, we now have the means to help older and barren women to get pregnant, using in vitro fertilization (IVF) with their own husbands, and sometimes lesser means. An act that brings new life and joy into these couples’ lives. The Church has condemed these medical means of helping infertility.
[/quote]

That is because the Church recognizes that fertilization is the natural result of marital relations between a husband and wife. If fertility treatments exist to assist the marital act itself in the procreation of children (e.g., fertility medications), the Church does not have a problem with such treatments. Only when the medical intervention replaces the marital act (i.e., the marital act is replaced by scientific technology) does the Church object.

As to rights, such as a presumed “right” of the couple to “new life and joy,” the Church recognizes that the child’s right to be born of his parents’ marriage – and derivatively of their marital relations – is a higher value and right than that of the parents. This doesn’t mean that the Church is insensitive to the pain of infertility:

The gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others (CCC 2379).

[quote=CTShyanne]Why is feeding someone in an unnatural way who cannot talk and cannot feed his/herself not condemed also?
[/quote]

Because artificial means of feeding assist the body’s natural need for food and water. Artificial fertilization *replaces – *as opposed to assists – the body’s natural ability to reproduce (and, by reproduce, I am referring to bodily fertility in total, which includes the marital act and natural fertilization).


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