Click to go to Diocese of Green Bay Web site
The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin
Click for past issues online

 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinJanuary 17, 2003 Issue 

Choosing right

Thirty years later, ironies of life issue abound

By Tony Staley
Compass Editor

Next Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand. Since the ruling was issued in 1973, millions of lives have been lost to abortion, all the while science has made numerous discoveries to help women have babies.

Some of these scientific methods are in line with church teaching, while others, such as in-vitro fertilization are not. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church says procreation must be through the sexual act by husband and wife, paras 2375-77).

Thus, while millions of unborn humans are being slaughtered through abortion, many couples will go to almost any length to have a baby. Just what sacrifices they will make were detailed in "Personal History: Countdown to a Baby" (The New Yorker, 7/1/02) by Michael Ryan, a writer and poet living in Los Angeles.

Ryan tells how he and his wife, Doreen, also a poet, turned to science after natural means failed. First, they tried intrauterine inseminations nine times in 15 months. When that failed, there were 12 daily injections (cost, $3,674.50) into Doreen's thigh so that her body would produce eggs for in-vitro fertilization.

The eggs were harvested in a surgical procedure known as a suction trap. They were incubated, then artificially inseminated with sperm and left to grow three days in a petri dish. Then, using a catheter, four 4-8 cell embryos were injected into Doreen's uterus (this increases the odds that Doreen, who is 37, will eventually give birth to at least one baby).

For the next two weeks Doreen had to remain immobile in bed, while receiving nightly injections of progesterone in oil. Every third night she was also in injected with estradiol valerate. The injections went directly into a muscle using a two-inch needle.

After two weeks, the embryos had implanted themselves in the uterus, but the daily injections continued for another eight weeks and she had to have a blood test every-other-day.

In the sixth week of the pregnancy, the Ryans learned that Doreen was expecting quadruplets (two were identical twins). Her doctor recommended aborting three babies.

But, Ryan writes, "the embryos are all alive, and it makes me shiver to think of choosing which is to be killed. The smallest and weakest? Would the twins have a better chance, or the ones in their own sacs? What if you kill some and the remaining ones die later?"

A week later, one baby died and they learned that the twins were conjoined at the abdomen. The twins died the next week.

Eventually, Doreen gave birth to the only baby who did not die during the pregnancy, a girl -- Emily -- who is now two.

As gripping and heart-rending as Ryan's account is, it verifies the rightness of the church teaching on reproduction. The Ryans' story also shows how tragic it is to abort the lives that others deeply crave and will seek at great financial and physical cost.

This issue's contents   |   Most recent issue's contents   |   Past issues index

Top of Page | More Menu Items | Home

© Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
1825 Riverside Drive | P.O. Box 23825 | Green Bay, WI 54305-3825
Phone: 920-437-7531 | Fax: 920-437-0694 | E-Mail: [email protected]