ivf - smallWritten by: Theresa Gilbert

I thought I’d continue to delve into the topic of In Vitro Fertilization after my last post. I want to look more closely at why the Catholic Church clearly states IVF is wrong, but not in the light of how it creates human life and also destroys. More in the light of the act of creating that new human life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) clearly states that “Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other (2376).”

But, I don’t think most couples who are infertile go this route; I think most may try IVF with their own egg and sperm. The CCC says this, “Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.” “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person (2377).”

The following section provides the right attitude about having a child: A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.” 2378

To sum it up, using IVF as a means of having a child is unacceptable in the eyes of the Church because the creation of the new human life is outside of the self-giving love between husband and wife.

The Church is well aware of the difficulty infertility can bring to a marriage. It certainly does encourage research to help with this, but it must be “at the service of the human person, of his inalienable rights, and his true and integral good according to the design and will of God. (2375)”. And we do have many morally acceptable alternatives to IVF that I shared in my previous post.

To close, I want to assure you that for anyone who is conceived in “less than ideal circumstances” they are just as valuable as anyone else. The circumstances by which someone is conceived has no bearing on their dignity as a unique, human person.

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