IVF #3: Healing from Commodification & Idols

Today is the third homily in a four-part pro-life series with a focus on in vitro fertilization.  The first homily was about the pain of not being able to have children, and Jesus’ compassion: He suffers with and loves us, and asks us to respond as He would.  The second talked about how IVF treats children like objects, where we choose which are healthy, which will be frozen or experimented on, and, because it involves the deaths of embryonic persons, we realize that IVF is parent-centered: We create children for the desires of the parents.  The desire to pour out love towards children is good but we must choose the right means to fulfill it, which we will discuss later.

The first half of today’s homily is on the commodification of humans and the second is on healing.  By commodification, I mean people end up being treated like things that are bought and sold.  One person conceived through IVF wrote, “I have an abusive single mother who bought me to fill her loneliness, with her (conditional) love being contingent on meeting her needs.  I have a donor-father who openly admits he helped bring me into this world so he could profit off of my existence and play out his Genghis Khan-like fantasy…  I can be grateful to be alive all I want.  It does not take away that people bought and sold me for their self-serving desires”.

There’s a growing number of people conceived through IVF who struggle with their identity and roots.  One person wrote, “Absolutely no relatives that I found have wanted a relationship with me.  My biological father wouldn’t even provide me with medical history.  My grandma agreed to meet me, but then ghosted me.  And my siblings haven’t really wanted to talk…  I’ve gone through many difficult things in my life, but nothing can prepare you for rejection from your father”.

Of course, many children conceived through IVF have loving homes, but the point is that IVF opened up a door to commodifying children in a way that doesn’t exist in natural marital procreation.  Think about it this way: Does IVF allow anyone to create a baby for themselves?  Yes.  Does IVF allow people to create children for anyone else?  Yes.  IVF has no limits in the way it treats children.  But, in the Church’s teaching, children deserve to be procreated only within marriage because that’s the best environment for them.

Human suffering is the theme of the First Reading: “Job spoke to his friends: ‘Does not the human being have a hard service on earth…?  Like a slave who longs for the shadow… so I am allotted months of emptiness, and nights of misery are apportioned to me.  When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?”  But the night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn” (Job 7.1-4).  The Book of Job is a poetic drama that considers the theological problem of the suffering of innocent people: Job is righteous but gets incredibly sick, loses all his possessions, and his family is killed.  We’ve spent a good amount of time empathizing with the pain of parents, but what about the pain of the children who are killed through IVF and the children who suffer because of IVF?  Like Job, they’re innocent but an injustice has been done against them.

In the documentary #BigFertility, an American woman agreed to gestate twins for a Spanish couple, who paid $5,000 extra to ensure that they received a boy and a girl.  However, the girl implanted died, and the male embryo split into identical twins.  The couple was horrified.  Because that’s not what they paid for.  The IVF industry and mentality have made children and procreation into a business.

The Phoenix Sperm Bank wrote: “With the COVID-19 pandemic still affecting so much of our lives… you may be looking for opportunities to earn extra money in 2022.  If so, becoming a sperm donor is a great way to consistently make up to $1,500 per month while making a positive difference in the lives of others…  If you are selected as one of our donors, you’ll get $100 cash for each approved donation you offer (and about 90% of all donations are approved), and you can donate up to three times per week”.  I know the parish is looking for creative ways to raise funds for the parish center, but it raises the question: Did anyone ever consider the long-term ramifications of what we’re doing?

Here’s a screenshot of surrogacynetwork.org, which lists the different levels of compensation women can get in California, from $28K to $58K.


However, since the free market is good, you can ask poorer women in India to carry your child at the reduced rate of $8K.

Maggie Eastman began donating her eggs while in college and did so for ten years.  When 32, she was diagnosed with stage 4 invasive ductal carcinoma, breast cancer, despite no one her age having that type nor her family having a history of cancer. She said, “Being an egg donor gave me terminal cancer,” alluding to all the hormones she was exposed to for harvesting her eggs.

This is why the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network had a number of doctors sign a statement which said: “The medical process for surrogacy entails risks for the surrogate mother: … Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), ovarian torsion, ovarian cysts, chronic pelvic pain, premature menopause, loss of fertility, reproductive cancers, blood clots, kidney disease, stroke, and, in some cases, death.  Women who become pregnant with eggs from another woman are at higher risk for pre-eclampsia and high blood pressure”.

Let’s now see how Jesus heals suffering: “As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew…  Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once.  He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up…  That evening, at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons.  And the whole city was gathered around the door.  And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mk 1:29-34).  Jesus heals the body because it’s sacred.  But notice that He doesn’t focus primarily on the body, but on the soul.  “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.  And Simon and his companions hunted for him.  When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you’” (1:35-37).  Why are they searching for Him?  Because they wanted physical healing (Cf. Jn 6:26).  Yet that’s not the reason Jesus came.  “He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do’” (1:38).  It’s as if He’s saying: ‘I know people are looking for a physical healing, but that’s not the healing people really need.  I’ve got to go because I have a better healing in mind.’  Jesus came primarily to heal our relationship with God the Father, because, if the body is healed but the soul is dead, then we have no eternal life.  And sometimes the sickness of the body leads to a healing of the soul.

For example, Bl. Lojze Grodze was abandoned by his parents: His father was never present and his mother married another man and didn’t want her son.  It was only when he was 13 that he discovered God and found in Mary the mother he never had.

St. Margherita of Castello was born blind with multiple curvatures of the back, and had dwarfism.  Her parents were ashamed of her disabilities and prayed for a miracle, but what would have been the greater miracle: that their daughter was physically healed, or that they were healed of their lack of love?  Her parents kept her in seclusion because they were embarrassed, but Margherita went to Mass daily and became a saint.  One of her greatest miracles is that she forgave her parents.

St. Martin de Porres’ Spanish father wouldn’t accept him because of his black skin, coming from his mother.  He grew up without his father and in poverty, but worked hard, applied himself to becoming a barber-surgeon, and joined the Dominicans.  He was famous for levitation, bilocation, instantaneous cures, etc., but was canonized because the greatest miracle he performed was his love of God and neighbour, in spite of all he suffered.  No bitterness or resentment, just humility, prayer, and service.  No matter our background, nothing can stop us from being completely transformed by Jesus’ grace!


Jesus came to heal us.  One healing we need is from that of idols.  An idol is anything we worship like God: success, pleasure, other people, even children.

A woman named Bethany, who had been married for 21 years and never able to conceive children, wrote, “I don’t think my story is that interesting…  We wanted children but weren’t desperate to get pregnant…  Very early on we felt the Lord call out the idol of having children…  If our life only had meaning or was fulfilling if we had them then we didn’t trust the Lord for the life he would give us.  Does that make sense?  Sounds harsh but we didn’t feel the grief when we dealt with our idol…  We realized that there’s something inherently wrong with saying, ‘Having children is so important that I will go to any length to have them…’  I realized I believed in a lie that my life will only be fulfilled if I have children.  I’m believing a lie that my life is significant if I’m a mother…  I really want children; I want to give children to my husband…  But if I can’t, I don’t want it to ruin the rest of my life.  I will not blame you, God, and I will not be disappointed in you” (Conceived by Science, 103-104).

Letting go of our idols doesn’t mean crushing good desires.  So, please consider going to fertilitycarevancouver.ca, which uses the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, which is respectful of the human body and sexuality.  The website says, “Among couples of normal fertility, conception occurs 76% of the time in the first cycle of using a defined day of fertility.  It is 98% effective by the sixth cycle.  If fertility-focused intercourse does not result in pregnancy being achieved within 6 months, we can refer to NaProTechnology”.

Today, we’re again inviting everyone to sign up for 40 Days for Life.  The cards are in front of you—could you please pass them to those next to you?  Thank you to the 108 people who already signed up!  This is our chance to pray for others, first, that preborn children are protected from death, that parents have the grace not to choose abortion, and that those who have may receive God’s healing.  Once you fill out the cards, please give them to the Hospitality Team.  Thank you!

Finally, in preparation for next week, when we will show one graphic video of abortion and some pictures, I just want to remind everyone, parents in particular, that you may not want young children to see this.  So, let’s end with a beautiful three-minute video about life in the womb, which has been accredited by six doctors.  When you watch it, just realize that, in Canada, any baby like this could be aborted at any point, from conception to nine months.  So, let’s ask Jesus to heal us and our culture.

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