Let’s Be Clear: IVF is Intrinsically Evil


IVF, like its inverted cousin, contraception, is a flash point between Catholics and Protestants – and even amongst Catholics themselves – witness Mr. Biden’s dissent. Many of our separated brethren are against abortion, at least when the fetus looks sort of like a baby. But they are squishy on crimes against life at its earliest stages, when the child looks like a clump of cells. But are we not all just ‘clumps of cells’?

Hence, the furor in Alabama after Judge Tom Parker’s remarkable decision, on which we commented a couple of days ago. Clinics halted operations, fearing legal backlash. Would IVF now be effectively illegal? The Alabama legislature jumped into action a couple of days later, unanimously (32-0) passing a law ensuring that the procedure is fully protected, but it has yet to be signed into effect by Governor Kay Ivey, who is a Republican.

In IVF, ova (eggs) are retrieved from the woman, placed inside a medium in a dish (vitro). Then sperm are introduced (often by ICSI – injected via a long pipette into the egg), which ‘fertilize’ the eggs, which means babies are conceived. Some of these early embryos (two or three) are implanted within the womb, and the rest, if deemed worthy of life, placed into cold storage for further use, or in case those first ones don’t implant.

The first baby conceived and brought to term by IVF, Louise Brown, was born on July 25th, 1978, ten years to the day after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical against contraception. The Church responded in two documents from the CDF – the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: The first was Donum Vitae in 1987, and its sequel, Dignitatis Personae, in 2008. Both are well worth a perusal.

The reader may already glean the evils inherent in this procedure. There is the violation of the rights of the husband and wife to become parents by each other, by conjugal union. As well, the rights of the child are violated, to come into existence in this act of love and unity. There is also the usurpation of God’s privileged and unique dominion to create new life, placing this in the hands of technology, and more on that in a moment. Embryos deemed ‘unfit’ are simply killed, or used for research, or in the making of various medicines. A eugenic and utilitarian mindset governs the whole thing.

Due to the uncertainty and expense of the procedure, many more children are ‘made’ than can be implanted, and many of these are simply disposed of, killed in the first moments of their existence. We don’t really know how many babies’ lives are snuffed out in this way, but estimates are that thirty eggs are fertilized for every one successful embryo transfer, which would put the murder rate at many thousands, if not millions.

Those other ‘extra’ babies deemed healthy enough are subject to the indignity of being frozen in suspended animation in a liquid nitrogen bath at minus 196 degrees centigrade, for possible future use. There are tens of thousands of them in Canada, and, in the U.S., perhaps a million. (No one really knows, since the procedure is largely unregulated in America). Those babies are left to what the Church has termed an ‘absurd fate’ – that is, one with no solution, for there is no morally licit way to bring these children to term. (See my thoughts here, after an uncomfortable event at a pro-life dinner last fall.)

The whole artificial reproduction industry is a scandal and debacle of the highest order, death and mayhem cloaked in the veneer of goodness, as a ‘cure’ for infertility.

On that note, we should keep in mind that, prescinding from all these evils, the ‘simple case’ of IVF, between a married couple with no ancillary evils, is still intrinsically wrong.  Here is Donum Vitae:

These reasons enable us to understand why the act of conjugal love is considered in the teaching of the Church as the only setting worthy of human procreation. For the same reasons the so-called “simple case,” i.e., a homologous IVF and ET procedure that is free of any compromise with the abortive practice of destroying embryos and with masturbation, remains a technique which is morally illicit because it deprives human procreation of the dignity which is proper and connatural to it.

Children are a blessing and gift, not a right. Of course, IVF is no longer used only for infertile married couples, but for convenience, for single career women to delay childbearing or who can’t find husbands; or for homosexuals whose couplings – if that be the term – cannot produce children.

Technology that assists the conjugal act to attain its natural efficacy is fine. But technology that dominates or replaces that union is wrong. Artificial reproduction is a curse, not a blessing. The whole industry needs to be shut down.

A final addendum: God does bring good out of evil, as the article linked to below attests. The children of IVF are made in God’s image, and are called to life eternal with Him. But we should not do evil that good may come of it, for, like Pandora’s box, evil also begets ever-greater evil, and it’s tough to put that genie back in the bottle.

But we must try, and trust more in God. Choose life, that we and our descendants may live.


A Personal IVF Story