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What does the Catechism say about IVF?



Philip Kosloski - published on 03/01/24

In vitro fertilization (IVF) has always been morally objectionable in the eyes of the Catholic Church, as it removes procreation from the sacredness of the sexual act.

One of the more popular techniques to achieve a pregnancy in recent years has been in vitro fertilization (IVF). It involves the artificial combination of a sperm and egg in a laboratory.

The Catholic Church has been very clear in its teachings regarding IVF, as can be seen in the Catechism.

Sometimes IVF involves an individual’s involvement who is not one of the spouses, in hopes of achieving a pregnancy. The Catechism explains that this is gravely immoral:

Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other.”

CCC 2376

IVF in marriage

However, in other situations it is the husband and wife who attempt this method of artificial fertilization. This method is also immoral:

Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable.They 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.” “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.”

CCC 2377

Any act that separates procreation from the sexual act is morally problematic.

While the goal of a pregnancy is good, that does not justify the means.

In Catholic theology, the ends never justify the means.

The Church is not against couples seeking to raise a family, but the Church is against using means that compromise the integrity of the family.

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