Human life as a disposable lifestyle product

Last week international news outlets like the BBC reported about a famous US TV star and her former partner being in disagreement about what to do with two frozen embryos they had created through IVF procedures whilst they were still together. He, according to the news source, wants to find a surrogate mother to carry out the pregnancy, while she apparently refuses. The words of the father as to the the euphemistically called “frozen embryos” leave no doubt about the true nature of these human beings: “When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?” He also notes that he does not want “the two lives I have already created be destroyed or sit in a freezer until the end of time”. Here we have a situation that is a painful reminder of the cynical culture of death our society seems to be so addicted to: the father openly testifies to the true nature of these frozen embryos, namely that they are human beings created for the purpose of life, but that risk being killed simply because of personal preferences of another human being that happens to have the power to decide over these human lives.

It should be noted here that the often forgotten or deliberately ignored “side effect” of IVF procedures is the freezing and later destruction of countless human beings – as always euphemistically merely referred to as “embryos” – that are deemed unworthy of life for a variety of reasons such as so-called “defects” or there being a “surplus” of embryos (human beings) originating from the same couple. The United Kingdom “Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority” (an institution George Orwell could have invented for his novel “1984”) reported in 2013 that between January 1991 and December 2011 of the 3,546,818 embryos (human beings) created, 1,714,570 were ‘discarded’ (killed). Why are we not up in arms about such chilling facts that show a terrifying disregard for human life? Why does a majority of people seem to have gotten used to and accepted these modern forms of clinical mass killing? Where is our humanity?

Whilst human history is full of examples where humanity gets lost in wars and ideologies that lead to indiscriminate killing by the millions (we have discussed this in previous blog posts), no ideology has caused so many millions of deaths of innocent human beings as indeed our current culture of abortion and the “discarding” of embryos. In mainstream politics and media few people show any concern for the staggering numbers of conceived but unborn lives killed, whilst the general populace has – willingly or unwillingly – accepted this as something they either agree with or can do very little about. The publicity given to the above case and the way in which the topic is being dealt with – namely wholly neutrally – shows where much of society stands when it comes to the life of the unborn: it is a property, a product of medical procedures and personal choices, rather than an ultimate and unrepeatable gift to the world.

What causes this cynical and materialistic attitude in us human beings? The main cause of this lethal culture is easy yet unpopular to identify: contraception. Human life became a disposable lifestyle product when artificial contraception was made the norm of the day, a matter of government policy. Once the coming together of a man and a woman in sexual intercourse is decoupled from their marriage vows and their openness to create and rear a new human life together, and the conception of life itself becomes purely a matter of “family planning”, we automatically treat life exclusively as a product of our own will and preferences. If we only accept a new life that we have ourselves “planned” or “willed” (how often do pregnant mothers hear the question “was this baby planned?”!), the logical consequence is that we “discard” the life we did not plan or will, which is essentially where abortion and IVF is all about. Institutionalized contraception has thus given our societies the idea that human life is a product to be planned and owned. Since every property can be disposed of by its owner, human life has as a consequence itself become disposable.

There is, really, still (since the beginning of human history actually) only one answer to all this: the loving marriage between one man and one woman, open to life and till death do them part. This remains the primary community of mankind where we learn what it means to be human; as the author Michael D. O’Brien says it:

Love is a holy power of the soul. Love never possesses, love never forces, manipulates, or controls, because for love to grow there must be between two souls a mutual gift of the self.