The Church teaches that human dignity is best respected when the beautiful sexual union of two people conceives a child. This does not happen when a human being is created in a laboratory through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). As the Catechism teaches:
The dignity of the human person, especially the child to be conceived, demands conception in an act of human love, the specific act of the spouses’ union.
(Such) techniques… dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act.
(IVF) Fertilization is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another.
(IVF) Fertilization is placed in the power of doctors and biologists which, in turn, establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the person.
First, it should be noted that when fertilization is placed in the control of science, governments, and special interest groups, they can be persuaded to use IVF for purposes contrary to human dignity and the common good. They can (and will) manipulate that life by personal desire.
Furthermore, when the egg and sperm are put together in a petri dish, they must be artificially shocked and forced to unite. This forced merger points to the normal conjugal act as the proper environment where conception is to occur. Life should not be forced.
Finally, and most importantly, the IVF procedure necessitates, for both procedural and financial reasons, multiple embryos be artificially produced. Several are then implanted in the womb as most embryos are not expected to grow. In this way, IVF intentionally produces human life with the full awareness that certain embryos will not survive. The remaining embryos are put in a freezer in case they are needed in the future, resulting in tens of thousands of human embryos being stored in freezer banks around the world.
We must remember that human life begins at conception. This is not just Church teaching, but science. Modern genetics has established that a human being’s DNA is created when the sperm fertilizes the egg. At the very moment of conception, a unique human identity is created.
It cannot be forgotten, however, that the Church is a compassionate and loving mother, one who understands that infertility can be a great cross for couples to carry. Catholic married couples who struggle with infertility are encouraged to seek viable and moral options. First, millions of children in the United States and all over the world dream of nothing more than to have parents, and it is a great Pro-Life act to decide to adopt children. Second, the Church is not against medical advancements that help infertile couples as long as they do not interfere with God’s vision. For this reason, the Church supports Natural Family Planning (fertility charting), hormone therapies, and other similar methods.
The desire for fertility and the measures taken through IVF often come from good intentions. It is natural to feel desperate and seek medical intervention. However, intentions and desires aside, the moral issue remains. Through this process, many lives are cast aside. By creating life outside the marital act, the meaning and purpose of the God-given act are erased. Choosing IVF is not simply choosing to have a child by any means necessary - it is choosing to circumvent God’s plan for how He wants to grow your family tree.
Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor — Monthly Medical Ethics Reflection