[gtranslate] Why Catholics Must Reject IVF - Eglise Catholique Saint James (Saint Jacques)

Why Catholics Must Reject IVF

Why Catholics Must Reject IVF

Earlier this year the Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled, in an 8-1 decision, that the state’s law on accidental death of a minor applies to frozen embryos, considering them as « children » under state law. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit by parents whose frozen embryos were accidentally destroyed at an in vitro fertilization clinic. The court examined the « ontological » status of these unborn children, discussing the definitions of « person » and « child » in the context of state law. The judges concluded that frozen embryos are considered « children » and that the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act applies to all children, born or unborn, without limitation. This ruling was influenced by Alabama’s previous legal developments, including a 2018 constitutional amendment affirming the sanctity of unborn life and a 2019 abortion ban.

The ruling has led to consequences for In vitro fertilization (IVF), a procedure used to help individuals or couples with fertility issues to conceive a child. The process involves the fertilization of an egg with sperm outside the body in a laboratory setting. Unbeknown to many, the Catholic Church condemns IVF and Catholics are not permitted to use or support it.

IVF Involves the Deaths of Thousands of Embryos

In vitro fertilization is not permitted in the Catholic faith for any reason; instead, adoption is encouraged and there are morally acceptable options for infertile couples. According to a July 2005 issue of Newsweek, IVF costs $9,000 and only 25% of all cycles involve a live birth. It should also be noted that there is a serious though rare side effect, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), that has killed patients using IVF. Through IVF, 6 million embryos, human beings like us, have died because of this procedure. That is roughly 80-90% of all embryos created in IVF. In the US, 170,000 embryos die each year. 

From a purely biological standpoint, an embryo is the early stage of development after fertilization of an egg by sperm. In human reproduction, fertilization marks the beginning of a new genetically unique organism making embryos, even in the scientific community, individual human beings with human DNA. Embryos therefore are human beings with a human soul.

IVF Separates the Unitive and Procreative Aspects of Marriage

The procreative aspect of marital relations underscores the sacred and inherent openness to the transmission of life. Sexual intimacy within marriage is viewed as a partnership with God in the act of creation, acknowledging the potential for the conception of a child. This aspect emphasizes the natural purpose of human sexuality in contributing to the ongoing generation of life and participating in the divine plan for the family. The intentional obstruction or manipulation of this procreative potential, such as through the use of artificial contraceptives, is mortally sinful.

The unitive aspect of marital relations in a Catholic context emphasizes the profound unity, mutual self-giving, and love between husband and wife. Sexual intimacy within marriage is a sacred expression of the spouses’ commitment to one another, fostering emotional and spiritual closeness. This dimension recognizes the significance of the marital act in deepening the bond between partners, reflecting the selfless love that is meant to characterize the marriage. Practices that undermine the unitive aspect, such as extramarital affairs or artificial reproductive technologies that separate procreation from the marital union, seriously disrupt the intended unity and sanctity of the marital bond.

With these in mind, it is crucial to recognize that the Catholic objection to IVF extends beyond the murder of innocent human beings. Any form of insemination outside of marital intercourse is morally wrong, constituting a transgression against the dignity of the child being conceived.

Artificial Fertilization Condemned Both Inside & Outside of Marriage

In an address given on September 29, 1949, to Catholic Doctors in Rome at their 4th International Congress, Pope Pius XII delivered the following remarks on why artificial insemination is not morally permissible. And his words are crucial to make known today given the recent ruling in the State of Alabama. The Holy Father stated:

« Artificial fertilization, outside of marriage, is to be condemned outright as immoral. Such is indeed the natural law and the positive divine law, that the procreation of a new life can only be the fruit of marriage. Marriage alone safeguards the dignity of the spouses (mainly the woman in this case), their personal property. By itself, only it provides for the good and education of the child. Consequently, on the condemnation of artificial fertilization outside the conjugal union, no difference of opinion is possible between Catholics. A child conceived under these conditions would, by the very fact, be illegitimate.

« Artificial fertilization in marriage, but produced by the active element of a third party, is also immoral and, as such, to be condemned without appeal. Only the spouses have a reciprocal right over their body to engender a new life, an exclusive, non-transferable, inalienable right. And that must also be taken into consideration of the child. To anyone who gives life to a small being, nature imposes, by virtue of this bond, the burden of its conservation and education. But between the legitimate husband and the child, the fruit of the active element of a third party (the spouse was he consenting), there is no bond of origin, no moral and legal bond of conjugal procreation.

« As for the lawfulness of artificial fertilization in marriage, it suffices for us, for the moment, to recall these principles of natural law: the simple fact that the result to which we aim is achieved by this route, does not justify the use of the medium itself; nor the desire, in itself very legitimate among spouses, to have a child, is not enough to prove the legitimacy of the recourse to artificial fertilization, which would fulfill this desire.

« Let it not be forgotten: only the procreation of a new life according to the will and the plan of the Creator carries with it, to an astonishing degree of perfection, the achievement of the aims pursued. It is, at the same time, in conformity with the bodily and spiritual nature and with the dignity of the spouses, with the normal and happy development of the child. »


The Church does not condemn scientific progress or medical interventions. However, the Catholic Church supports the responsible use of medicine and healthcare to alleviate suffering, promote health, and preserve life that is in accordance with natural law. The ethical use of medicine in line with Catholic teachings must always include respect for the sanctity of human life, recognition of the dignity of each human person, and fidelity to the natural law.

While the Church supports ethical approaches to fertility treatments, certain assisted reproductive technologies, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), are often opposed since they involve practices inconsistent with Catholic moral teachings, such as the destruction of embryos and the separation of the procreative and unitive aspects of marital relations. 

Turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary in prayer