I have the honor of teaching our Youtherans at my church. A few weeks ago, after we had a discussion about abortion, the topic of a local ad campaign came up. Billboards have been posted up around town, including one just up the street from our church, that say “some lawmakers are anti-Lula,” with a picture of an adorable little girl (presumably Lula). Lula is a young lady who was conceived via In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
While I may discuss this technique and why I oppose it another time, I’ll allow several interesting discussions to take that honor now. An answer about surrogacy from my own Synod, and a more complex discussion of the Roman church’s understanding at Bad Catholic (please remember that a link is not necessarily an endorsement, here). Additional information from my Synod about fertility issues may be found at Christian Life Resources. To this end of the discussion I must merely add that the fact that this child is being used in this manner seems indicative of the “Designer Baby” phenomenon.
In this post, however, I’d like to recount a few of the critiques our Youtherans raised in thinking critically about this ad campaign. They were remarkably quick to pick up on more than a few issues, the first of which being that the campaign is primarily designed to illicit an emotional response. After all, anyone who would oppose the cute little girl pictured is a monster, are they not? So by using words like “anti,” along with a sentimental image to cause the viewer to emote, this campaign bypasses critical thought. However we ought to throw a  flag on the play: Which lawmakers, in particular, are opposed to allowing Lula to continue existing? Which laws are being introduced to destroy her and the other children conceived through IVF? As you might suspect, no one is brushing the dust off of their pitchforks and torches to hunt down Lula and her kinfolk.
So what is it that Tell Them actually means when they say people are anti-Lula? They mean only this: Many people in South Carolina and through the US have thought carefully about what goes on in IVF and have opposed it. There’s nothing malicious or anti-Lula about that; again, they rely on the emotive rather than the empirical. Their train of thought must run something like this:
- Group A opposes IVF.
- Lula came about via IVF.
- Therefore, group A is anti-Lula.
The Youtherans proposed that there might exist another little girl, named Lola, who came about as the result of a rape. They posited the following train of thought:
- Tell Them opposes rape.
- Lola came about via rape.
- Therefore, Tell Them is anti-Lola.
Now, I don’t think it necessary, but let me emphasize that our youth were merely making a Reducto Ad Absurdum argument — that is, they were reducing the opposing train of thought to absurdity, which their example clearly does. One can oppose the way that a human being came about for it’s obvious negative effects without simultaneously opposing the human being. Thus the Youtheran’s conclusion that what Tell Them had to say about our lawmakers was a weak attempt to demonize opposition and stifle conversation.
Lastly, something we talked about was the question “Does the end justify the means?” In other words, just because Lula came into being through IVF does that justify the fact that other children were produced and (often) destroyed or left as one of 400,000 embryos cryopreserved in the USA? Does one happy little girl justify a %40 or lower success rate, with many still-born or miscarried children lost along the way? Does the fact that good things can come out of a process mean we must use that process? Of course we soundly reject any such utilitarianism that reduces a child to a commodity, to be traded for and purchased at the expense of other lives. Human beings are not science experiments to be selected for, they are not products to be designed; they are precious, human persons, with value and dignity all of their own. Indeed, it is precisely because the children, like Lula, who are produced by IVF are so important and valuable that we oppose IVF and the subsequent destruction of those children!
It’s always a blessing to see that what we’re teaching the youth is sticking. May they, and you, continue to keep fighting death.