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Isn’t the Church’s teaching on in-vitro fertilization unfair to couples who cannot conceive?

Full Question

The Church’s teaching on the immorality of in-vitro fertilization seems cruel and unfair. Don’t married couples have a right to have a child?

Answer

While the Church’s judgment concerning in-vitro fertilization treatments may appear cruel and unfair, it is not. Children are a gift, not an entitlement. The Church teaches that

[M]arriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (58) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life 8)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us that

Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization). . . 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." (CCC 2377)










16 comments

  1. Greg Reply

    The unused embryos is what bothers me since they are a person now. I trust the church’s teaching but Honestly I don’t have any judgment on this matter, as long as all fertile eggs are implanted.

    1. Charlene Reply

      Totally agree! Unfortunately they get thrown away because they are not needed once the couple has their children: (

  2. Annette Reply

    God would never turn away a child no matter how it was conceived

  3. Charlene Reply

    The article is not saying God would turn a child away. The Church is asking to respect the gift of a child and not treat children as objects you can get anytime. These parents need to trust in God. He may have other plans for them. Plus, there are many embryos thrown away and multiple birth children that suffer.

  4. Liz Reply

    That is the problem now days, people making their own rules, opinions, points of view.. how ever you want to call it. But have forgotten the most beautiful of virtues, obedience.

  5. rita Reply

    I agree a child is a gift of God,if u can’t conceive why not adopt so many children in need of a family

    1. Janet Rosenthal Reply

      Not easy to adopt in today’s world. Too many women either keeping their children or killibg them.

  6. Louise Whalley Reply

    Some of you have clearly never had to experience the heartbreak of not being able to conceive…you would only need tomeet my Angel girl, born through ivf treatment to know that she was God’s will too..
    She definitely is the most precious gift from God, irrelevant of how she was conceived

    1. Steve Reply

      I have one also. My IVF angel. God allowed for her.

    2. anthony Reply

      Louise what about the other fertilized embryos that were either experimented on or frozen for further use. I am not down playing the beauty of your child, She is definitely a gift from God. But you can’t kill two embryo’s to have one Child that is just not right.

  7. Janet Rosenthal Reply

    I have a problem with the wording that children are a gift of God. It makes infertile couples feel that somehow they are not worthy of God’s love. I do understand and accept the Church’s teaching but am hurt by this. Why has God denied us this gift. What have we done wrong.

    1. Nancy Pauline Reply

      Dear Janet,
      You have not done anything wrong. And you are worthy of God’s love. My husband and I could not conceive either and at first, I was hurting, too. But I realized not having children just isn’t one of the many gifts that God has given me. Instead of focusing on what I did not have, I thought of all that I have. And I realized I still am very blessed. Once you align your will with God’s will, peace will come to you. I will say a prayer for you.

    2. miriam Reply

      I agree Janet . I am currently going on three years with infertility problems. I am a women of Faith and believe that he has a plan but nevertheless sometimes I question what did I do to not deserve such precious gifts . I believe God created these master minds and doctors for a reason. Why go to a doctor when your sick . Don’t you have faith Gos will heel you? It’s kind of a similar thing. I understand the stand point of this article but only those that have truly suffered with infertility will understand. God has put the need to be a mother in our heart for a reason .

  8. Sean Cotter Reply

    The truth is that viable embryos are almost never not implanted. God gave us intelligence and ability and yes life is the ultimate gift, so I fail to understand the Churches continued rejection of this technology. I love the Church, and I love Jesus, and I love my child that was conceived via IVF.

  9. Laura Reply

    How about let say if the couple will accept a maximum of 4 kids fertilise only 4 and then implant one at the time ………

  10. Steph Reply

    Of course God will allow for the life of a child even if by reason of your own free will to choose that
    makes it so. However, the fact that the heartbreaking reality you or someone you know is unable to conceive does not mean God has banished you to sadness. It means He may have a greater vocation for you, or perhaps for natural conception to happen at a later time. As difficult as it is, no matter our journey whether it be unable to conceive a child at this moment or dealing with a problematic marriage, loss of a job, etc. it is all part of God’s plan and we are not, as humans, able to comprehend the “mystery of our faith”. I, too, suffered two miscarriages before we conceived three children to birth. The questioning and struggle was very hard on us, the bombardment of the media and people around us asking so many questions and making comments of what we should do. However, many childless couples find fulfillment in other ways that would not have been possible. I have also friends who were able to conceive, by God’s grace, at a later time in life. I am not writing here to judge, only to shine light on another point that takes this article a step further to remind us of God’s will that we have a life filled with peace and joy greater than we can imagine. Our earthly lives are filled with sorrow and disappointment, no doubt, but persevering in trust and faith that God’s omnipotent power will help us overcome these and bring us to experience the life He has planned for us. Bless all the couples, bless all the children here today or to come — God’s plan for us is one of glory.

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