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children with Down syndrome

Pronatalists Want A Child, But Not THAT One

December 26, 2023

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You may have seen The Satanic Temple’s (TST) new abortion ritual in the news. It’s good that such things can still be shocking enough to be newsworthy. To me, that’s a positive sign that a culture in extremis still has a breath of hope. 

The TST has created their “ritual”—that they claim is a religious ritual—to help abortion seekers work around the mandatory waiting periods, sonograms, and compulsory counseling that some states are requiring now before allowing an abortion. Women who want to eliminate the child they have conceived can claim a “religious exemption” from such impositions, since they are participating in a ritual prescribed by a “church”—i.e., The Satanic Temple. Cosmopolitan, the anti-life/pro-promiscuity magazine, is, of course, very happy to share the details with you. You can read about it at Live Action. I think we can assume that TST is trolling for a Supreme Court challenge to their status as a religious entity. You might start to pray for their failure. 

Aborting children is the post-conception way of eliminating them if they are inconvenient or unwanted because of some undesired genetic trait. Even after Dobbs, in the era of an easy prescription for a do-it-at-home abortion, it is still far too easy to obtain one. Some companies will even pay for you to go to an abortion sanctuary state if your state of residence is too restrictive. For antinatalists (those who believe that having a child is immoral), abortion is their sacrament of choice if, in a moment of weakness, they haven’t adequately prevented their actions from producing their unintended but natural result.

In the midst of our culture of contradiction, there is another strange group that has emerged and is taking life into their own hands. These people are concerned about the decline in birth rates in the developed world and are making a commitment to have children rather than seeking out ways they can eliminate them. They are called pronatalists. If you go to pronatalist.org, you will find the header screaming at you in big letters: 

“Demographic collapse is well underway.
Its social and economic fallout is inevitable.”

Of course, they are right. The Population Bomb that Paul Ehrlich warned us about over fifty years ago never happened, but there were many who feared that it would, and so they really promoted the (then) new availability and use of contraception, and abortion too. The consequences turned out to be just as the new pronatalists are warning us about—a demographic collapse. With the West now in decline, those population activists—people like Bill Gates—are now attempting to force population collapse on the developing world. 

Pronatalism sounds like a great idea. The problem, though, is that they only want the children that will bring about their genetic utopia. Simone and Malcolm Collins are the leading lights of the movement and the founders of pronatalist.org. They’re a quirky but clearly brainy couple with impressive bios and plenty of enthusiasm about bringing their own perfect, predetermined number of seven children into the world—and helping others create their own perfect family too.  

Among the services their foundation offers, like egg and sperm donation and surrogacy, are reproductive services which they present like this: 

We leverage modern technology to improve the quantity and quality of reproductive healthcare. Working with investors and organizations, we direct capital towards reproductive health companies at the margins of progress: companies that innovate in and expand access to IVF, polygenic risk screening, artificial wombs, and more. Stay tuned for our incoming partnership with the Egg Freezing Ambassador Program!

By Catholic moral standards, their “services” fall into the category of malum in se, or something that is bad in itself. We commonly say these things are “intrinsically evil.” 

First, infertility is a horrible cross for a couple to bear, and doctors often recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF) as a possible solution. Unfortunately, most of us don’t hear homilies about reproductive technologies, and so many Catholics believe that IVF is good. Others, however, choose IVF for the control it gives them over the genetic traits of their future children—a sort of insurance policy against a “bad” outcome, or a means of quality control. 

Pronatalists demand children at their convenience and on their terms.

The problem is that, for either reason it might be used, IVF, or the engendering of new life outside the body in a petri dish, violates the integrity of the marital act.

When the sperm and eggs are brought together in the lab and a new embryonic human is created, the next step is to grade the embryos that are created for their quality. Of course, the “defective” ones, like those with genetic anomalies like Down syndrome, are discarded. The “best” embryos will then be implanted in the mother’s womb and allowed to grow. Their growth is carefully monitored, and then the best one or two are allowed to continue to delivery while the others are eliminated through a process called “selective reduction.” That’s just a nice way of saying they are selectively killed. The leftover embryos are frozen in a rented liquid nitrogen canister where these little humans are left for future attempts at implantation. Many will eventually die or be destroyed. 

The Church teaches that “even in a situation in which every precaution were taken to avoid the death of human embryos . . . IVF . . . dissociates from the conjugal act the actions which are directed to human fertilization,” and “such fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children” (Donum Vitae, II.B.5).

Polygenic risk screening, another service Malcolm and Simone support, attempts to give a couple confidence that they’ll have a healthy child who won’t ever suffer from a disease or disability. Well, that’s on the defensive side. This technology is based upon thousands if not millions of data points and potentially allows a couple to influence the outcome of their child’s IQ by selecting from the best possible sperm and egg donors and from the most promising embryos. By the Collins’ own admission, they don’t just want to have seven children, they want to have seven brilliant designer children. 

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Aside from the moral complications of IVF that these procedures depend upon, parents who choose these technologies are saying no to a child conceived as a gift. For them, that would be far too risky. They will only say yes to a child engendered by the “power of doctors and biologists” and the “domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.” They are saying, “I want a child, but the one of my own choosing”—the one who passes quality control—not the one who is God’s gift, who may have autism or spina bifida, or hay fever, or who may not be at the top of their graduating class, or one who may not someday be in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. 

Of course, all of this is made possible by the “good advancement” of medical technologies. The term for this use of those technologies is positive eugenics. It has been used in plants and animals for years to improve species and increase quality and production. Humans are not plants and animals, but I suppose that fact has slipped past the brilliance of the new pronatalists. 

To be pro-life is to be accepting of the gift of life in generous cooperation with our Creator according to the vows of marriage—i.e., to accept children lovingly as a gift of God. Pronatalists demand children at their convenience and on their terms. Human beings are not commodities where conception should be planned and gametes chosen from a catalog of the best and most promising options. Sometimes the greatest gifts begin as the most troubling surprise. Read this