Clarification on Catholic teaching about IVF


I am a nurse and I want to get a clearer understanding about this so I am giving a hypothetical scenario.

A married couple tries to get pregnant, they are open to life but they are not blessed with a child after many tries. By the time they get checked by a doctor, they find out that they cannot physically get pregnant (both mom and dad). This couple wants to have kids that carry their genes and blood line. They think of IVF.

Here’s the question/s:

  • is it still morally wrong for them to get IVF after having tried and given confirmation that they cannot conceive?
    -I know IVF includes the process of trying to fertilize embryos and is considered wrong because in order to successfully fertilize one, many had to be sacrificed first. With any medical procedure, there are risks some big, some small. Why is it still considered wrong when there is always that risk involved? Women do not fertilize every egg they have and that gets shed every month. So what is the difference?


It is always morally wrong to separate the procreation of children from the marital act. No matter what a couple’s story and circumstances might be, there is never a justification for creating children in a lab setting. IVF is never morally permissible.


I hope this article from the National Catholic Bioethics Center will help you:



In vitro “fertilization” is immoral. There are no circumstances that could justify its use.

If egg is not fertilized, it remains an egg; it remains just a cell with incomplete genetic material. If it is fertilized by a sperm, it becomes a unique human child. To knowingly destroy a human child should be infuriating; if parents understood that so many of their children would be “sacrificed” in the process of IVF, I could not image they would begin the procedure.


I disagree with this reasoning. But I realise that I will be in the minority, at least on this forum.


That was good. thanks!


He never answered their question.


What do you disagree with specifically? That a unique human being is present after fertilization, or that it is not morally wrong to “dispose of” (aka kill) “unacceptable” embryos?

But the church really opposes IVF for the same reason it opposed contraception. Because the unative and procreative natures of the marital act have been separated and indeed removed from the marital act all together. (Meaning they would still oppose IVF, even if the person seeking it, could ensure that no extra embryos would be killed during the process).


Then what is the process then?

Because from what it is sounding, this is like a trail and error process. Same way with any medical procedure, it can go either way.

That is my question, the couple are open to life that comes out of the marital embrace but after many tries only to find out they cannot conceive, is it still wrong then?

Another question, is surrogate motherhood wrong in this situation?


Part of your answer is imbedded in your question. “Women don’t fertilize every egg they have.” There is part of the problem. With IVF there are multiple eggs fertilized; humans, not God, make choices about viability and which fertilized eggs should be kept and which should be allowed to be trashed; the process is usually repeated around 4 times prior to any success so there is a high mortality rate among the embryos AND it is a form of conception that is separate from the marital act. Additionally if both male and female have fertility issues then that means that another man’s sperm or woman’s eggs are being used. (A form of adultery I suppose.).


I am thinking of the parents who desperately want to have a child, their child.

Sure, if you want to be technical, then you have the process of fertilization when two gamete cells combine to form a diploid cell. And then you need to select one zygote which is most viable which then develops into the couple’s child.

If you oppose the destruction of zygotes, even just after fertilization, I can understand your reasoning. But to oppose IVF, just because it’s done not the normal way, is ridiculous. The couple has been told that they can’t do it the normal way, so why should they be prevented of creating new life with the help of medicine. Isn’t then any medical intervention “unacceptable”?


Yes, it is wrong.

Another question, is surrogate motherhood wrong in this situation?

Yes, surrogate motherhood is wrong.

I think you are getting sidetracked with the extra embryo issue. While the left over embryos evidence one of the worst possible consequences of IVF, that’s not** the reason** IVF is wrong. IVF is wrong because it divorces the procreative and unitive aspects of marital unions. It’s the flip side of contraception, which is also wrong. IVF is contraception with the unitive embrace and contraception is sexual pleasure without the procreative aspect. IVF is also wrong because it turns a child into a commodity, something to be acquired.


Oh goody, a hypothetical situation to try to skirt Church Teaching. These threads always end up well…

No, IVF is always immoral. You can add "if: at the end of that and it does not change at all.

As a nurse, you should have the medical knowledge that the logic behind this should be crystal clear to you.


What you are describing is a selfish want. Not the reason to bring forth life. You are also describing a person or couple who desires a specific genetic makeup of a child (their own genetics) which is not only immoral, and selfish but boarders on eugenic.


Unfortunately I am not a Maternal and Child health nurse. So this is kind of out of my realm. I do have the medical knowledge, but since I do not know what the IVF process involves then I cannot understand it completely.


It is pretty common information. You can find the process with a simple search, you can also find Church teaching about it in the CCC.;):thumbsup:

We can offer Catholic Teaching and Theology behind it but this is not the best place to get medically educated. You could ask a pro life OBGYN for the Specifics.


Thank you! That is one of the clearer pictures I have seen on why its wrong.


Thank you. I just wanted to get past the usual reasoning that ‘its just wrong’, I want to be able to reason this out on why.


No problem.:wink:


I wonder how many practising Catholics feel as I do that the Church’s teaching on I.V.F is unacceptable. People have the right to make their own decisions on such highly personal,often heartbreaking and extremely sensitive matters without the Church having anything to do with it. We are not sheep and some aspects of our lives are solely between each one of us and God. Many such private issues primarily affect women, yet the Church leaders are all men!
God bless you.

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