The Truth about In Vitro Fertilization

I came across a discussion on Facebook about a jury awarding $1.9 million to a teacher whose contract with a Catholic school was not renewed because she had violated her employment contract. I’m not going to comment on the merits of the case. I’d like to focus on the discussion itself.

Everybody on the discussion thread was posting confused or incorrect “facts” about Catholicism. It’s a sad statement when we live in a country that’s 20% Catholic that not one of the dozens of people knew anything about what the Catholic Church teaches on an important subject (I have no idea how many of the posters consider themselves Catholic).

Comments were along the lines of “They’re supposed to be pro-baby, and yet the hypocrites don’t allow this beautiful life-giving procedure” and “they finally apologized for Galileo, they need to get with the times” and “they hate science” – “they hate it because it’s like masturbation, ‘every potential life is sacred’” and “they don’t care about women’s rights” – the list goes on and on.

I’m not criticizing these people for not knowing what the Church teaches, nor do I want to criticize people who have had IVF without knowing it is a sin. I went through 12 years of Catholic school, and was raised in a family that practiced the faith and was active in our church, and yet somehow I never was told any of these things either. It’s time we started talking.

So, here’s what Catholics believe about IVF, etc. Next time you’re in a similar situation, perhaps you can shed some light.

Catholics believe that sex serves two purposes. First, reproduction. Second, bonding of spouses. Furthermore, sex is the most intimate physical act a couple can perform. We also believe all human life is important even if it is defenseless.

The reason masturbation is wrong is that it is sex deprived of both its purposes. It does not lead to reproduction and it turns the person into themselves narcissistically instead of uniting them in love with another.

IVF is wrong for several reasons. First, because it inserts a third party in between the couple. Secondly, it uses the reproductive organs not to reproduce but rather to provide raw material for what is essentially a commercial enterprise, and incidentally can damage a woman’s health permanently in the process. Lastly, at least the way IVF is performed in the U.S., it creates multiple children (on average 12). One or two are allowed to live and the rest are frozen until they die, are discarded as medical waste, or are sold as raw material for experiments or manufacturing. Even the child that is allowed to live is considered a product. Buying and selling human beings is wrong.

And we’re not talking about “potential” humans (as some claim) but actual human organisms. Even if it is defenseless and dependent, a new human life is created at fertilization. That’s not religion or belief, it’s settled science. Just read a biology textbook.

Catholics believe that (like our Declaration of Independence says) that rights are God-given, not granted by others, and every human is created equal whether they are big or small, wanted or unwanted, dependent or independent. All people deserve equal treatment and protection, especially those that are helpless. I think that explains why abortion is wrong too.

That is the Catholic position on these things. People don’t have to agree with it but at least you can show them why the Catholic Church will never condone abortion IVF etc. and why that position is not arbitrary, but rational.

Copyright 2015, Michael Lindner

Image: by Erin Stevenson Connor, CC, via flickr

Michael Lindner

Michael Lindner

Mike is a scouter, a science geek, a dad, a husband and a Catholic. He earns a living as a software engineer in beautiful New Jersey. In his spare time (ha ha) he muses at his blog What Does Mike Think? He is not a writer (which will be painfully obvious after reading his posts) but feels called to apologetics and evangelization anyway. You have been warned.

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