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'Quick Help' Page: Why Does The Church Condemn IVF?

 

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Related Terms...

IVF | I.V.F.

In Vitro Fertilization

Artificial Reproduction

Artificial Fertilization

Embryos

Infertility

Sin | Sinful

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"Why does the Church condemn IVF since it results in new life?"

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

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First, the Church's teaching that "the end does not justify the means" is well known. Scripture itself condemns the idea that the ends justify the means. For example, consider this passage...

"And why not say - as we are accused and as some claim we say - that we should do evil that good may come of it? Their penalty is what they deserve." (St. Paul, Rom. 3:8)

As the Baltimore Catechism states...

"It is never allowed, even for a good intention to do a thing that is bad in itself."

Even the 'modern' Catechism of the Catholic Church states...

"'An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention' (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means. A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together."

So while the intention of creating a new life may be laudable (assuming a validly/lawfully married couple), the means to do so must also be morally acceptable.

To illustrate this principle, consider the following example: A woman has a husband with infertility issues. She proceeds to commit adultery in order that she bear a child. While her desire for a child is good, the means she uses to have the child (i.e. adultery) is evil. It does not matter that she "wants the child really bad", the adulterous action would still be immoral & sinful, even if a child resulted from the illicit union. And as troubling as adultery is, the sinful action used to produce the child is in itself natural. In contrast, the sinful IVF process may involve creating life in a lab, then freezing embryos for years & later thawing them out for use. It can seem like something out of a science-fiction movie. And again, it is sinful.

Ultimately if a married couple is unable to procreate licitly, this a cross they must bear. They are not morally free to sin in order to achieve their (otherwise worthy) desires. 'Manufacturing' children via IVF is unnatural and sinful. On a human level, the procedure fails to address the underlying cause of infertility. It may be expensive as well as ineffective. If a child is produced, there is also the possibility that it may suffer health problems. The use of IVF may display selfishness, a lack of humility, and contempt for (or disregard for) the Church's teachings.

Second, it should be noted that many children die as a result of the illicit IVF process. Consider the following quote from Pope John Paul II...

"The various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life. Apart from the fact that they are morally unacceptable, since they separate procreation from the fully human context of the conjugal act, these techniques have a high rate of failure: not just failure in relation to fertilization but with regard to the subsequent development of the embryo, which is exposed to the risk of death, generally within a very short space of time. Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman's womb, and these so-called 'spare embryos' are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple 'biological material' to be freely disposed of."

So while some misguided persons may consider IVF to be "pro life", the reality is that many unborn (and most likely unbaptized!) children can die for each successful pregnancy.

And eventually, couples that choose to proceed with the sinful IVF procedure may be called on to voluntarily dispose of their own 'unused embryos'. That is most definitely not pro-life!

There is also the concern that couples with IVF babies may have difficulty having true contrition for their sin and that sins cannot be forgiven without contrition.


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