Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Problems with Reproduction in Korea

A professor  emeritus at the Catholic Medical School mentions in his column on the culture of life that 15 percent of married couples are sterile, or over a million couples. During the last 10 years this number has increased almost  four times.

Generally, the male is responsible for the sterile condition about 30 to 40 percent of the time, and the female for about 50 to 60 percent; about 10 percent is unknown. On the women's part, the ovulation phase is mostly the problem and with the man it is the testicles that are not producing sperm or in the numbers necessary.

In recent years the age of marriage is later than in the past, which brings in physiological problems for reproduction. Abortion on the part of women before marriage also plays a part, the professor says.

This problem with sterile couples is a problem for the nation. The government is helping couples with in vitro fertilization (IVF) in order to decrease the number of sterile couples. The professor admits to having a strange feeling when he heard that the government was helping those who were not having babies. For a Catholic all that is possible is not always the way to go.

The professor goes on to say that with these artificial means of fertilizing the egg, there are problems: legal, social,  and moral problems  but also medical problems that come with  fertilizing outside the womb and   implanting  the embryo in the uterine wall.

The Catholic Church continues to be concerned with the problems of sterile couples, publishing in 1985 the Instruction on Respect For Human Life In Its Origin And On The Dignity Of Procreation: "Nevertheless, whatever its cause or prognosis, sterility is certainly a difficult trial. The community of believers is called to shed light upon and support the suffering of those who are unable to fulfill their legitimate aspiration to motherhood and fatherhood. Spouses who find themselves in this sad situation are called to find in it an opportunity for  sharing in a particular way in the Lord's Cross, the source of spiritual fruitfulness. Sterile couples much not forget that 'even when procreation is not possible, conjugal life does not for this reason lose its value. Physical sterility, in fact, can be for spouses the occasion for other important services to the life of the human person, for example, adoption, various forms of educational work, and assistance to other families and to poor or handicapped children." (58)

The Church is asking Catholic doctors and the medical  world to find ways of solving the problem of sterile couples that do not include artificial fertilization and fertilization outside the womb. There are, he says, many ways that sterile couples are finding medical help to conceive and this will continue.