Blog

Uncategorized

Hominum Vita Pro Sacra

Our Mission

Our Mission Statement:

The Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life, Inc., was formed in 2020 on the Feast of Pope Saint John Paul, with the mission of defending and promoting the Magisterial teaching regarding the sanctity of every nascent human life (particularly embryonic nascent human life), from the first instant of conception to natural death; defending both the personhood and dignity of each tiny human life and the beauty of God’s plan for human procreation. The Institute seeks to foster the goal of promoting faithful Magisterial teaching regarding the sanctity of nascent human life through scholarship, advocacy, policy formation, and prayer.


Our Motivation

On November 27, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI held the first “Vigil for Nascent Human Life” in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. https://catholicherald.co.uk/benedict-xvi-leads-vigil-for-all-nascent-human-life/ . In his remarks and homily during the Vigil, the Holy Father spoke eloquently of the Church’s commitment to safeguard the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception. He also boldly spoke of the personhood of the Incarnate pre-born Christ Child, and the personhood of all other nascent human beings.

The Holy Father’s teaching that evening reiterated and highlighted the teaching of Dignitas personae (8 Sept 2008), Donum vitae (22 February 1987), Veritas splendor (6 August 1993), Evangelium vitae (25 March 1995), and Humanae vitae (29 July 1968). Pope Benedict XIV’s remarks during the Vigil for Nascent Human Life also reflected his appeal for greater collegial efforts to safeguard nascent human life, an entreaty initially issued in Donum vitae:

“In particular, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addresses an invitation with confidence and encouragement to theologians and above all to all moralists, that they study more deeply and make ever more accessible to the faithful the contents and teaching of the Church’s Magisterium in light of a valid anthropology in the matter of sexuality and marriage. . .”[1]

Our Response

In response to the Magisterial request and cognizant of the scope of the need, on 20 October 2020, the Feast of Pope St. John Paul the Great, Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis, Laura Elm, Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, and Fr. Jacob Boddicker, S.J., committed to founding the Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life, Inc, a 501 (c) (3), a charitable organization dedicated to defending and promoting the Magisterial teaching regarding the sanctity of every nascent human life. The name and mission of this organization reflect the initial sentence of the 2008 Instruction by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas personae, that states unequivocally: “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death (§1).” Dignitas personae reiterated both the duty and authority of the Church to provide solid moral teaching regarding the sanctity of every human life while also speaking to the myriad of bioethical dilemmas which have resulted from tampering with the natural order of God’s plan for human procreation. Among the most tragic results of the misuse of technology has been a radical effort to dehumanize and often commodify unborn human persons, including the tiniest of embryonic human persons.

There are many excellent Catholic Pro-life organizations actively laboring on the frontlines in the fight against abortion and providing vital life-saving assistance in pregnancy help centers.  In contrast, the number of organizations which specifically focus on defending the sanctity of embryonic nascent life is very few. Thus, the principal focus of the Dignitas Personae Institute for Nascent Human Life, Inc, is to faithfully promote the Magisterial teaching defending the personhood and dignity of each tiny human life and the beauty of God’s plan for human procreation through scholarship, advocacy, policy formation, and prayer.

[1] Donum Vitae, (Instruction on Respect for Life in its Origin and the Dignity of Procreation), Issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, given in Rome on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 22 Feb 1987, by the Prefect, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, during a Papal audience, at which time the document was approved and ordered published by the Supreme Pontiff, Pope St. John Paul II.

Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Informed Consent, IVF, Sanctity of Life

Perils of Assisted Reproduction – The Possibility that a Doctor Fathered ‘Thousands” of Children

A recent article by Michael Cook in BioEdge entitled, “Michigan Doctor May Have Fathered ‘Thousands’ of Children” details the case of Dr. Steven Peven, a Detroit area obstetrician and gynecologist who may have fathered a significant number of the 9,000 babies he delivered during his 40-year career. Dr. Peven is now 105 years old, and DNA testing has been used to reunite the doctor with some of his genetic offspring- children whose parents had come to him for help conceiving. Dr. Peven reportedly regularly provided the donor sperm used in assisted reproductive techniques in his office medical practice.

The couples involved appear to be unaware at the time of conception and birth that the sperm donor who fathered their progeny was Dr. Peven himself. Among the myriad of bioethical issues that this case highlights is the role of informed consent- or in this case the utter lack of informed consent. Likewise, this case serves to elucidate the problems that arise within a small community in cases like this one. Dr. Peven is a member of the Detroit Jewish community- as are many of his patients. Dr. Peven’s choice to utilize his own sperm for assisted reproductive services increases the chance that – particularly within the local Jewish community- siblings might unwittingly meet, fall in-love, marry, and reproduce. A number of genetic disorders, including Gaucer Disease, Tay-Sachs disease, and cystic fibrosis, have a statistically higher degree of being passed on within the community as a direct result of Dr. Peven’s behavior.

Dr. Peven’s case unfortunately is not an isolated event: many similar cases have been brought to light in recent years. Each of these cases reminds us of the inherent dignity and worth of the individual human person from the moment of conception. Children have the right to know who they are and where they came from, yet each of these situations reveals the stark realities that manifest when human reproduction and childbearing are treated as mere commodities.

More information regarding this case can be found at: “BioEdge” 31 Jan 2021, by Michael Cook. BioEdge: Michigan doctor may have fathered ‘thousands’ of children

Dr. Mary Anne Urlakis

9 February 2021