Do non-viable embryos have souls?


My husband and I recently had an early miscarriage that happened only 3.5 weeks after conception. We don’t know why it happened, but information online says that up to 50% of early miscarriages happen because of chromosomal problems with the embryo itself. So we were wondering if our little embryo had a soul and could possibly be in heaven now, even if it was so damaged that it could not get fully developed or be born.


I am very sorry for your loss and pray that you will find comfort and healing. I also hope that CAF’s readers will remember you and your family in their prayers.

In answer to your question, every living thing has a soul. All humans have personal, immortal souls from the moment of their conception. In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II stated:

In procreation therefore, through the communication of life from parents to child, God’s own image and likeness is transmitted, thanks to the creation of the immortal soul. … In fact, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.” (EV 43, 60; quoting CDF, Declaration on Procured Abortion 12).

This means that your child indeed had an immortal soul from the moment of his conception. That his body may have been damaged too greatly for him to survive has no bearing on that matter. For babies who have died without baptism, the Church states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

As regards children who have died without baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy baptism (CCC 1261).

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