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June 13, 2024 19 mins
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So, as my listeners know,I'm not a particularly religious person. I'm
not a socially conservative person, butmany of my listeners and my close friends
are Christian conservatives, and so I'maround a lot of people a lot of
times have different views on things thanI do, and that's fine, we

can all be friends. But I'malways very interested to learn about some of
these views. And I saw apiece over at the Heritage Foundation website written
by Emma Waters, who's a seniorresearch associate at Heritage. In the website
is Heritage dot org and the titleof her piece is A Christian's Practical Guide

to Reproductive Technology, And so Iinvited Emma to the show. She kindly
agreed, and in what I guessyou might call good timing, there was
some news yesterday about the Southern BaptistConvention voting to oppose IVF in vitro fertilization,

which ties in very closely to whatwe're going to talk about today.
So Emma, welcome to Kaaway,Thanks for being here, of course,
thanks for having me. So firstof all, I just want to take
a macro look. Why did youdecide to write a Christian's Practical Guide to
reproductive technology. So believe it ornot, the words in vitro fertilization are
not mentioned anywhere in the Bible,and because of this, some Christians have

concluded that this means the Bible orChristian teaching is somehow agnostic on the question
of reproductive technologies. And ever sincethe Alabama Supreme Court decision in February that
has really sparked a national discourse onIVF. I think a lot of Christians
in particular, have found themselves outof wits end, not really sure how

to think about the issue, because, on the one hand, IVF creates
life, which is something that Christiansand those in the religious world are huge
fans of. But on the otherhand, there are a lot of moral
and ethical consideration that come into playwith IBF that many Christians don't know how
to spink about well. And soI wrote this piece, As the title
says, it's a very practical guideto empower Christians to think about in future

fertilization as a technology, but alsofrom the lens of what does the Bible
say about infertility and how we engagein these sort of life creating technologies.
Okay, I think we probably don'tneed to spend a ton of time on
why Christians or anybody else might likeaspects of IVF. You know all that

there will be agreement on that part. So I think the more interesting part
for me and maybe for you isthe part about where there might be objections
to it. And I'm I'm guessingin part because it makes sense and in
part because I've read your piece,But Christians could be concerned about the fact

that fertilized eggs could be destroyed ordiscarded in the IVF process. So I
told you before we went on,I would probably ask you some stupid questions
because I don't know a lot aboutthis, and I certainly don't know a
lot about the way, you know, capital C Christians think about this.
But is that a major issue,the destruction of fertilized eggs. Yeah,

I think that probably gets at thecore of the issue. So among almost
all orthodox Christians there is a firmbelief that life begins at the moment of
conception. That's the idea that hasreally animated the pro life movement when it
comes to abortion, and for manydenominations that tends to be the stance that

they take when it comes to IVFas well. So most Protestant denominations actually
don't have firm teaching or guidance onthe use of reproductive technologies, but most
of them will recognize that life beginsat conception, whether it's conceived inside of
a woman's body or inside of apeatri dish and IVF, and that procedures
like IVF that oftentimes do involve theroot team destruction of human life at that

embryonic stage is inconsistent with Christian teachingand Christian values. Now, of course
IVF does not have to destroy embryonichuman life. Sometimes in routine IVF they
will choose to destroy human life orthe embryos perish just as part of the
natural process. But I certainly don'tthink that all IVF necessarily results in the

intentional destruction of human life. Butthat question of how we're treating embryos,
I think it's probably the primary concerned, primary interest that Christians have when they
think about this issue. From yourperspective, in terms of faith slash philosophy,
is there a difference between a fertilizedegg that gets destroyed intentionally versus one

that gets destroyed kind of as youdescribed, it's sort of a natural part
of the process, which could bethat it just is left alone and then
that results in the end of itversus you know, throwing it away.
Yeah, there's certainly a distinction tobe made between intentionally discarding an embryo at

any point after it's been conceived andthe recognition that sometimes life ends embryos cease
to develop. Right. This happenswith miscarriages inside a woman's body, very
much outside of either person's control.So there certainly is a distinction there.
One is within your control, oneis outside of your control. The one
thing I would say to this,though, is that it is worth considering.

With IVF in particular, there isa much higher rate of embryos even
unintentionally being destroyed, either through theuse of preimplantation genetic testing, or even
just because of the process itself.Right, there's a lot of stages from
fertilizing the egg to transferring the embryo, freezing the embryo, defrosting the embryo,

and planting the embryo in a woman'slife, and all of the stages
introduce increase risk that the embryo willnot survive, and so I think it
is worth keeping in mind our responsibilitywith the embryos that we have created.
If we're intentionally putting them in situationswhere there's a much higher risk that they
could be destroyed, that they couldcease to live, then that's something I

think that that's a moral responsibility thatpeople have to consider for themselves as they're
assessing whether or not they want topursue IBS. The Politico article that I
referenced earlier starts with this. TheSouthern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest and
most politically powerful Protestant denomination, votedwednesday to oppose in vitro fertilization. So

what would you add to that?What do you think is the most interesting
and most important part of this story? Yeah, it's you know, I'm
overall very excited to see the SouthernBaptist Convention address in viuture fertilization. Like
I just mentioned, most Protestant denominationsdon't go beyond saying we shouldn't intentionally destroy
life, and so they don't actuallyaddress how should Christians think about this from

a moral and theological perspective. Now, the Politico article is a little misleading
because the IVF resolution does not actuallyprohibot IVF or say that Southern Baptists cannot
use IVF. It doesn't go thatfar. What the resolution does say,
however, is that they recognize thatlife begins a conception and has inherent worth

and dignity from that moment of conception, and so our use of these reproductive
technologies should keep that front and foremostin our thought. That we should not
pursue any technologies where we're intentionally destroyinghuman life. And like I mentioned a
second ago, we should think verycarefully about how we use these technologies when
it does increase the risk of destroyinglife. So it's a really good start

from the Southern Baptist to start,I think discipling and encouraging Southern Baptists to
think in an explicitly biblical way aboutthe use of reproductive technologies. We are
talking with Emma Waters from the HeritageFoundation Heritage dot org. Her recent posting
is called a Christian's Practical Guide toReproductive Technology. I want to drag you

a little bit into the political notspecifics about any particular upcoming election, though
I did note and you tell meif I have this wrong, because obviously
you pay attention to this every day, and I don't really, but I
thought that I saw maybe Ted Cruz, who's pretty darn conservative and pro life,
and maybe some other senator proposing abill. Was it Katie Britt maybe

proposing a bill to protect IVF atthe federal level. So first, just
correct me on anything I got wrongthere and tell me what kind of legislation
is being proposed and what you thinkof it. Yeah, so you're right.
Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Katie gritintroduced the IVF Protection Act, which

very simply says that no state canban or prohibit IVF on the state level,
and if they do, they'll loseaccess to Medicaid funding. So that's
where the federal part of this lawcomes into place. Now. I have
written on this piece at Newsweek ina few other outlets, and the way

that we've really thought about this,and it seems like a lot of other
Republicans send offices have thought about this, is that first, IVF is not
under attack in the United States.There are no federal or state entities that
are looking to prohibit or ban thepractice, and indeed, IVF access is
widely available in all fifty states.And so the first law was what's the

purpose of this bill. If IVFisn't under attack, then why go so
far as to threatened states with theloss of Medicaid funding if they attempt to
regulate or think about it, orregulate or think about ways to regulate the
practice. And the second is thebill doesn't address the ethical concerns in IVF.
It talks about health and health andsafety concerns. But I think there

are a lot of conservatives who supportIVF, who want IVF access available,
continuing to be made available, butalso recognize that there are serious ethical concerns
in how it's practiced and that weshould take those into account. For example,
most countries regulate and govern the useof IVF, especially when it comes

to things like pre implantation genetic testing, which can be used to select the
sex of a child. In theUnited States, there are no such regulations
limiting the practice, and so aboutseventy three percent of all clinics offer genetic
testing, and about seventy percent willallow parents to electively use IVF just to
select the ideal sex for their child. And Slate actually had a really interesting

piece on this recently. But asidefrom that, Democrats also have their right
to IVF. Package radically expands IVFnot even as a medical treatment, but
just as an entitlement for people whowant to treate children. But the primary
problem is that they prohibit any limitationson the practice, and it explicitly allows

for any use of reproductive technologies,including technology like designer baby, genetic editing
or cloning, which are widely unpopularin the United States. But most exciting
in this development is today actually SenatorHyde Smith and Senator Linkford, who are
both supportive of IVF, introduced somethingcalled the Restore Act. And the Restore

Act actually focuses on promoting restorative reproductivemedicine that addresses reproductive health conditions in men
and women that can oftentimes contribute toinfertility. So their approach is that IVF
is already available, so that's good, and instead we should also be promoting
restorative reproductive medicine that can help usaddress those underlying causes and help people either

conceive children naturally or have much highersuccess rates if they still turn to IVF.
So, just to make sure Iunderstand what this proposed bill would do,
it would have some kind of federalfunding mechanism for medical treatments that could
try to treat whatever the underlying probleminfertility problem is that would otherwise lead someone

to IVF so that they don't needIVF. Yeah. So the way the
bill is structured has a twofold approach, and actually what's so brilliant about it
is it doesn't require any additional fundingthat works within existing grants and data collection
surveys. And so the bill doestwo things. First, it expands grant

eligibility for doctors or medical students whoare in training so that they have access
to medical training and information to learnhow to use and practice restorative reproductive medicine,
which addresses those underlying causes. Andthe second part of the bill has
a focus on access to information anddata collection, where it ensures that men

and women who are suffering from reproductivehealth conditions or infertility, yeah, are
able to access these treatments through variousgovernment programs that already exist. And then
it also directs HHS to conduct research, put together literature reviews, and provide
ongoing reports about the accessibility of thistreatment. Okay, so I've got a

few questions and we've got about fiveminutes here, and I want to follow
up on a couple things you saidbefore, So give me relatively short answers
so I can get through all threethings. You said that Senator Cruz and
Senator Britt's bill appears to be asolution in search of a problem. But
a lot of people saw that IVFwas very much about to be under attack

in Alabama, and then the statelegislature had to change their law law to
make sure that it was protected.And when you've got very very influential people
like the Heritage Foundation, like you, and the Southern Baptist Convention now voting
to oppose in vitro fertilization, Ithink it's perfectly reasonable to believe that there

are lots of people out there whowould like to regulate and limit in vitro
fertilization. And you said, yeah, it's good it's available now, But
you didn't say that you personally,if you were king or queen, wouldn't
want to limit it or regulate itaggressively. So I think it's reasonable to
think it would be under attack.Yeah, it's a really good question.

I think this has been probably alot of the misconceptions that have been around
this. First again, the resolutionthat the Southern Baptists passed is not a
prohibit like, does not prohibit IDFin any way. It calls Christians not
to destroy human life, which isvery consistent with Christian teaching, and then
says, we need to think carefullyabout how we use this technolology, about

how you use the technology and accessto the technology are two very different things.
And then yeah, when it comesto Alabama, right, like the
Alabama decision ultimately said there is adistinction between the loss of property and the
loss of human life, and thatfor the purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit,
right where like those embryos were destroyeddue to the negligence of the fertility

clinic, the parents should have properlegal recourse to hold them accountable. One
of the ways that a scholar atHeritage is put it's called the hamburger test,
and in essence, he says thatthe way that the Alabama court ruled
was that there is a difference betweena hamburger and human life. And ultimately
they were saying that just because you'vedropped a hamburger on the floor, right,

not a big deal. You canjust reimburse the parents and move on.
But when you drop embryos on thefloor when you destroy those embryos.
There's something different there that really doesn'tsit well with the parents who had undergone
IVF and felt the loss of theirchildren deeply. Yea. And so the
decision wasn't prohibiting if right. Andso when it comes to then how we

think about this going forward, Ithink again there's just a very meaningful difference
between saying we want to ensure thatwe're practicing these reproductive technologies with the highest
standard of medical care that actually caresfor the parents, cares for the life
involved, and saying we want toprohibit in it. Right, let me
have that, let me jump inavailable regulated a second for a second,

just because we only had a coupleof minutes left. So I think that
again, I think that it isand it is reasonable to assume there would
be a tax on IVF coming whena court rules that an accidental destruction of
an embryo can result in wrongful deathlawsuit. Right, So, I think

you're going a little too far insaying IVF isn't really under thread. I
think I think it really, Ithink it really is. I think that
let's let's do let's do follow upon one other thing. So for people
like Katie Britt and Ted Cruz,very very pro life, very conservative Republicans,
to uh to posit a federal billto protect IVF, they must think

that even a whiff of opposition toIVF. IVF is a huge political problem
for Republicans. Is that how youanalyze what they are thinking and do you
think they're right if that's what theyare thinking. From what we've heard from
the office and from what they've saidpublicly, it seems that their perspective was

that they wanted to go above andbeyond to show to show voters, to
show Americans that they were fully insupportive IVF. There were a couple of
resolutions that have been introduced that Republicanssigned on to where they stated their support
and they wanted to put some federalpower behind it to show that they really

meant it. So I don't thinkthey at no point claimed that IVF is
under attack or that it's a threat, or that it's threatened. They've not
said that anywhere. That's not sendthe bill. I think they just wanted
to provide the best power behind theirstatement. And notably, Senator Britt has
a resolution affirming her support for IVF, and that has been widely embraced by

Senate Republicans with about forty three cosponsors. And so while they did put
forward the bill, ultimately the resolutionis what most people have rallied behind because
it's the most clear statement of theirsupport for IVF. Fascinating. All right,
I could keep going, but we'reout of time. Emma. Waters
are very interesting piece, especially forpeople like me who don't have a great

grasp of the Christian view of IVF, at least to the way Emma explains
it. It's up at Heritage dotorg. It's called a Christian's Practical Guide
to Reproductive Technology. And talking aboutthis in the context of the vote yesterday
by Southern Baptist was pretty good timing. Emma, thanks so much for joining
us. I really enjoyed the conversation. I've got a lot more to talk

about. We'll have you back anotherday. Sounds great. Thanks for having
me on. All right, gladto do it.

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