I want to begin this entry by quoting Nick Loeb, who wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times on April 29, 2015. It boasts the following attention-grabbing headline: “Sofia Vergara’s Ex-Fiance: Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live.” Here are Mr. Loeb’s own words:
“When we create embryos for the purpose of life, should we not define them as life, rather than as property?”
I agree with him that frozen embryos represent lives. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that these embryos in question contain all the necessary DNA for developing into female, human beings. Every person that has ever lived and died began as an embryo. This is where human life begins, which defies fullness of understanding (Psalm 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5, ESV).
How did these embryos come into being in the first place? According to Mr. Loeb, both Sofia Vergara and he agreed to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate mom to have children. The process started and ended before the surrogate mom stage. Both Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara signed an agreement stating that both parties must consent to moving forward otherwise the embryos stay frozen indefinitely. It is this aspect of the process that Mr. Loeb wants to overturn, but his signed agreement pretty much ends the story.
Let me restate that I agree with Mr. Loeb that those two female embryos represent human lives. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a powerful means of assisted reproductive technology for those married couples unable to have children due to medical reasons. At the risk of coming off like the moral police, I want to point out that Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara were not married. Yes, they were engaged, but I disagree with their use of IVF from a moral standpoint. What we have here is a man and a woman starting the IVF process before following through on their commitment to each other in marriage. It reeks of selfishness because these two adults began a process that had the potential of depriving their children of a mother or a father much less a stable home.
From my perspective, this is an alarming display of adults asserting their desires or wants above those of future children. With all due respect to Mr. Loeb, his actions come off more like a boy than a man. Real men count the cost of being a father before the kids arrive on the scene. I have no bone to pick with a man who chooses celibacy, or a man who marries and decides against having children. Those two examples represent men who were honest about the question of fathering kids. I cannot say the same about Mr. Loeb. It is true that celibacy and not having kids in marriage raise other questions; however, those are outside the scope of this entry.
There is another aspect to Mr. Loeb’s story that raises moral questions. The frozen embryos contain the DNA of Ms. Vergara and Mr. Loeb, which is the good part. Because they had been pursuing a surrogate to carry the embryos, she would have zero, DNA connection to the child; however, she would have an emotional one with the baby and the baby with her by virtue of the pregnancy. The articles here and here underscore this point. I stated earlier that Mr. Loeb’s parenting scenario highlights how adults elevate their desires over those of their unborn children. For me, the surrogate aspect of Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara’s fiasco amplifies this even more.
Near the end of his piece, Mr. Loeb reveals that he broke off his engagement with Ms. Vergara because she no longer desired to have children. Here are some hypothetical scenarios that could have taken place had Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara worked things out in order to proceed with the surrogacy stage. How does Ms. Vergara answer questions from her daughters about what it was like to carry them for nine months? Will any answer be sufficient for her daughters, or will they wonder if mommy really loves them? What does Mr. Loeb say to his daughters? Do the surrogate moms breastfeed them? In some sense, I am glad that Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara are not parents.
Lastly, there are two female, human embryos that remain frozen in time due to this whole mess. In the meantime, Mr. Loeb pursues his “legal fight” for their right to live. This whole thing sounds like something out of a science fiction novel or movie. In fact, Aldous Huxley touches upon test tube babies in his trenchant novel called Brave New World. Out of all of the science fiction novels that I have read, Huxley’s comes the closest to predicting our present state of things. He saw a future era in Western Civilization overrun by self-serving desires and motives. This verse comes to mind: “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8, ESV).