Moral issues at work surrounding IVF

I currently work as an Assistant at a hospital.
Shortly after commencing in my role, I have faced a number of religious and moral issues. Mainly with processing paperwork for patients for their various procedures such as Surgical Termination of Pregnancy (Abortion), Tubal Ligation and Male Vasectomies. Fortunately, I have been able to dodge them with the help of management who have been very accommodating towards me and moved me to a different department after I expressed to them that I do not feel comfortable with processing the paperwork for these procedures, for which I have been very gracious for.

Now, over the last few months, I have been working closely with a colleague who is a married Catholic and has been in the past and to my knowledge is currently undergoing IVF treatment with her husband. I am not aware if she is aware that this is a mortal sin, but I would expect her to as she distributes Communion at her local Parish Church, and the Church’s stance on IVF is quite clear. She is also quite public at work about this, which by the way, I am not interesting in knowing about not only from a moral perspective but also because I don’t want to know about the fertility difficulties between a colleague who I work with and their spouse, as I feel that it is a very private issue and it makes me feel uncomfortable discussing those kind of matters in a work environment.

I understand this may not be an appropriate question to ask you, but do you think God could have possibly put me in this place to tell her that IVF is a mortal sin and that it is wrong? I can already imagine her being very angry with me and I would be seen as the “destroyer” of her hopeful goal which she does not have a problem with. I can already see it as being a problem. She could very well not listen to me anyway and again, I could potentially lose my job. Then what if I ignore what God could be wanting me to do, and suffer the punishment later? I truly don’t know. Please share your thoughts.

It is unlikely that she does not know what she is doing is against Catholic morals (not that this is the only element in culpability), and it is probably unlikely that you will convince her to stop. The best thing to do would be to approach the pastor of the parish and speak with him about her PUBLIC advertisement of this behavior, since she is taking on a ministerial role in the parish.

PM me if you would like to discuss it in more detail…

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If she tells you about it when you are just a work colleague, the chances are that she has also told people at church about it. I can see why you want to talk to her about this issue, but in a work setting it’s not really appropriate and probably won’t be appreciated. She almost certainly knows anyway.

Strangely, I have encountered several Catholics and also conservative evangelicals who happily tell people about their IVF treatment when they would be the first to tell you that life begins at conception and they are wholeheartedly against abortion.

There’s no need to identify a parish church as a Novus Ordo parish church. It’s just a Catholic parish church. I think you only have to specify the parish’s liturgical tradition if it’s Eastern Catholic, in which case it may be useful to know that it’s a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish or a Chaldean Catholic parish or whatever.


No, I don’t think that.


OP, you know she is Catholic, and you are fairly sure that she knows what the church teaches, so there is nothing you need to do except mind your own business. As the saying goes” Not your circus, not your monkeys.


I disagree that its not likely she doesn’t know. Many Catholics live in the dark about these things and have either chosen to or been taught by parents that the church is old fashioned in these matters. I think you ought to say something, but not what you think. I think you ought to quietly take her aside and say that you do not like to hear about her IVF since it goes against your beliefs about the dignity and sanctity of life so to please not discuss them in your presence and hearing. Or words to this effect,obviously pray to God and ask the Holy spirit to speak for you and not my clumsiness. That way God will guide you to the right time and place and if it’s his will she’ll ask more or go away and look it up or be bothered by it for months etc. If not you have told her and sowed the seed of doubt… but all this is only if its Gods will for you. As I said this is what I think… only you can decide with God what to do and what hes calling you to.

My advice is pray, start small and get the advice of your priest if you are unsure about it. Remain humble ie that’s why I suggest saying to her, her behaviour bothers you rather than coming in with the ‘you are a grievous sìnner’ approach God bless you

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That’s a great blessing! :slightly_smiling_face:

Could just be me but seems like a funny way to refer to a parish church. :man_shrugging:

Anyway, here’s what I think I would do in this difficult situation. And it is no doubt a difficult one! I think I would start by praying, and really asking the Lord what he wills from you in this situation - does he want you to speak to her? Does he want you to mind your own business? Do you get a sense that he indeed did place you in her life to speak to her? Etc. Then I’d pray that if it was the Lord’s will he would open conversations between the both of you where you could, in a gentle and loving but clear way, explain the Church’s teachings on this issue. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and give you the right words. Or, if it’s not God’s will that you speak to her about it, that he’ll make it clear.

The only one difficulty I could foresee is that she could potentially take issue with your speaking to her and go to your boss. I don’t know how that would all play out, so you would need to use prudence and weigh it all up.

With regards to whether or not she knows the Church teaching on it, who knows? Many Catholics don’t know the Church’s teachings on various topics. And even if they do, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t occasionally be reminded.


I think you should just pray for her and any children that are conceived.

You are not obligated to tell her unless she asks you. When we “admonish “ a sinner we should do so with the belief that we can encourage them to not act on it.

A sister, or a daughter would be one thing. A coworker is not likely to change her mind because you told her.

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Pray for her. I would be very wary of wading into matters such as this, particularly with a colleague, (unless she specifically brings it up with you and asks your opinion - and even then I’d tread carefully).

You’d be surprised how many Catholics do not know the teaching of the CC on IVF. They may know the ‘hot button’ issues such as abortion and remarriage without annulment, but that’s only because they are the most talked about (it goes the opposite way too - think of how many we still see that say SSA is a sin in and of itself).

Remember, you are in a workplace and this is a colleague.


As well it should. That would be extremely inappropriate, and could get you in trouble.


As a colleague, you do not have authority over her. If she asks your opinion, give it. Other wise, express your concerns in prayer.


I was discovered infertile one year or so after I got married. The pressure which was heaped on me to enter various reproductive medicine programs was enormous – not only from my husband and family, but above all from the medical professionals who were treating me, beginning with my ob-gyn. I even was pressured by well-meaning (Protestant) church members, who thought my Christian duty was to produce many little Christians at all costs.

I just barely resisted because I was convinced it would be sinful, and it nearly broke my marriage. It also broke my parents’ and parents-in-law’s hearts.

I honestly wouldn’t blame anyone for giving in, particularly if they’re not aware it’s sinful. It can be so hard. There was a point where I thought it would be better for everybody if I died. I ended up struggling with depression for a few years.

Please be compassionate with her, and pray for her.

If she’s not aware it’s a mortal sin, then it certainly isn’t. Full knowledge is one of the criteria for mortal sin.


You must mean she is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at her Catholic Parish Church.


I’m not sure that’s morally necessary. Great if you can do it but there’s a difference between direct and indirect co-operation with sin.

Is it? When’s the last time you heard a priest talk about this from the pulpit?

No. I don’t think that’s the best approach, and could probably push her away even more. I think if they’re doing IVF they’re already beyond that approach. I had a similar issue recently. I heard a colleague was going for IVF and I told her of an alternative treatment that my wife and I are currently engaging in. It is ethically sound, far cheaper than IVF and has quite a high success rate compared to IVF. It also has been successful in many cases where IVF has failed.
She was sold with cheaper and higher success rate. She had actually heard of the treatment I was suggesting but didn’t know too much about it so she wanted as much info as possible. Turned out she suffered from recurrent miscarriage, which is specifically an area that this other treatment can help with. In any case, she simply wasn’t aware that there was a better, cheaper, and more ethical ways.


That is quite the claim… Ignorance can diminish culpability, but ignorance can itself be blameworthy, as we see from Romans 1. I am not saying you are incorrect in this case - but saying “if you don’t know x sin is on the list of mortal sins, it’s not a mortal sin,” is not correct except in matters of civil and ecclesiastical law…

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I suggest telling her exactly that, while at the same time expressing your sympathies for her difficult situation, and asking her to please refrain from discussing them at work. Laws about creating a hostile work environment are rather broad; her behavior could be considered to be such and, although I imagine you might be reluctant to take it that far, company management / HR would be obligated to step in if it continued.

From the CCC

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.


Yep. No such thing as a “Novus Ordo Parish Church”.


Such a list does not exist. A sin can be mortal in one instance, and be venial in another, some other situation there is no culpability. God does not expect people to follow a law when they are unaware of the law. That would make God a brutal dictator :frowning:


Yes, okay, but that does not explain it. First, of all, the language of the CCC here is just plain sloppy; as if there were such a thing as “full” knowledge. We are not angels - we never have the kind of knowledge that is “full” in the moral sense.

Someone who is deliberately hijacking the procreative process - especially if not under duress - has little excuse, generally speaking… You are free to have a different opinion, but let me assure you, the old and unfortunately ubiquitous theory that “if you don’t know it’s a mortal sin, it’s not” is absolutely bogus. It’s not how morality works.

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