My father is an infertility specialist. Has he committed mortal sin?


#1

My father is a successful infertility specialist who has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women overcome their infertility through IVF and other means. He is very good at what he does and is a kind and generous man. He has made countless families, including ones who consider themselves Catholic, incredibly happy through a practice condemned by the church.

Has my father committed a mortal sin by providing IVF? If so, what would recommend he do to? He quitting his job would lead myself, my immediate family, and many of the relatives he financially supports to destitution. Is there any equitable solution to my father's profession from a Catholic point of view? What is to be said to the countless families, Catholic, Christian and otherwise who have conceived as a direct result of my dad's services?


#2

Is your father a Catholic? Are you Catholic?


#3

No, neither of us are Catholics. I am just looking for perspectives on the issue. I am under the impression that the Vatican decries my father's profession. I am curious to learn what Catholics believe should be done by (or to?) my father. Also, the fact that Catholics see my dad to overcome infertility intrigues me, especially if his service is incontrovertibly against Church doctrine.


#4

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]
Has my father committed a mortal sin by providing IVF?

[/quote]

He has committed gravely wrong acts. If he knows that what he is doing is a serious sin against the Sixth Commandment then yes he is committing mortal sins.

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]
If so, what would recommend he do to?

[/quote]

Stop.

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]
He quitting his job would lead myself, my immediate family, and many of the relatives he financially supports to destitution.

[/quote]

That's a little over the top, don't you think? Destitute? I don't think so.

Your father is a licensed physician with a good education and good qualifications, he could certainly practice medicine in a related field.

Of course, he can also practice treating infertile couples in a moral way. Many, many Catholic physicians have practices following the work of Dr. Hilgers. He is a renound Catholic fertility specialist who created the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning and founded the Pope Paul VI Institute which has helped so many couples realize their dreams in a completely moral manner. Your father could be trained in the Institute's methods and carry on a very successful infertility practice. Couples line up for help from Dr. Hilgers.

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]

Is there any equitable solution to my father's profession from a Catholic point of view?

[/quote]

Certainly. He can practice medicine in a moral and ethical manner and stop doing immoral treatments.

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]
What is to be said to the countless families, Catholic, Christian and otherwise who have conceived as a direct result of my dad's services?

[/quote]

Well, I doubt anything can be said at this point. Certainly he could witness loudest by dedicating his life's calling to supporting moral ways of treating infertility and encouraging couples in the practice of natural family planning.


#5

Hi Betelgeuse (cool name btw) :) ,

Here is an article from the U.S. Bishops' website that touches on this subject:

IVF

As far as a Catholic view on what should be done by or to your father, I don't believe there is a Church teaching on that. Obviously the Church would say that your father would need to stop these practices. As far as specifically what he should do to provide for your family after this theoretical resignation, I don't think you'll get a specific answer.

Obviously your father has medical training and the necessary degrees, so he could do quite a bit with that I suppose.:shrug: For an "equitable solution" - well, from a strictly moral standpoint the person commiting an offense would not be "owed" anything in place of that offense.

Here's an example to show what I mean. If there is a pimp who brings in lots of money, then one day he comes to the realization that his "profession" is degrading to women and needs to be abandoned, noone then "owes" the former pimp anything to make up for his sudden loss of income. He would have to find employment like everyone else. (N.B. I'm not saying your father is a pimp :p )

Anyways, there ya go :D


#6

Well, as a non-Catholic it is likely that your father did not have proper conscience formation to know what he is doing is wrong. I am guessing your own faith tradition (if you have one) has no issue with these treatments. And, certainly society at large does not.

Mortal sin requires three elements-- grave matter, full knowledge, and free will. It is quite possible the full knowledge element is missing in your father’s case.

We are, of course, still accountable to God who has written his law in our hearts and gives us the use of our intellect and reason to seek out what is good and avoid what is evil. The level of culpability really depends upon many factors.

This is not an accurate statement. The Church teaches there are some treatments which conform with the moral law and some that do not. Your father is free to practice his profession in a way that is moral. My example above of Dr. Hilgers is one example of a Catholic fertility specialist making a real difference in couples’ lives while maintaining his integrity and conforming his practice of medicine to the moral law.

Well certainly I would want to encourage him to stop doing immoral treatments and take another path in helping couples.

Some Catholics are ignorant of Church teaching on the matter. Others know it is wrong and choose to do it anyway.

All of us are accountable in the end for our actions.


#7

Your dad is violating the moral law - it applies to all human beings, not ONLY Catholics.

He is a doctor, he can get a job anywhere in the US doing GOOD instead of evil.


#8

nonsense he is a doctor in ob-gyn an area with critical need, and his current work is not the only way to practice medicine and make a good living.

there is no way one person (except the priest in confession) to declare another individual is committing a mortal sin, that is a subjective judgement.

Yes the activity itself is gravely immoral if it involves contravening natural law (not all infertility treatments do this) but without knowing the person’s level of knowledge, intent and free will, which no other person can claim to do, one cannot make that accusation.


#9

Since the OP isn't Catholic, I do want to mention that even if it is "mortal sin," mortal sin is one for which you will go to hell if you do not ask for God's forgiveness. It does not mean that it is unforgivable (which is what I thought it was as a Protestant teenager).


#10

It is silly to think he'd be destitute if he gave up IVF. There is a desperate shortage of OBGYN doctors who are interested in actually healing women's malfunctioning reproductive systems. The entire thrust of the field for decades has been on prescribing pills to force the woman's body to behave in whichever mode is desired at a given time instead of diagnosing why her menstrual cycle isn't functioning normally in the first place and correcting the underlying problem.

Quite frankly, he has the opportunity to be a counter cultural hero and still make a family supporting wage. Do have a look at the Pope Paul VI Institute referred to by others above for more info.

No one can say what he is doing is a mortal sin or not except God. None of us knows his conscience and what he knows or doesn't know. It is potentially mortal, but that entirely depends on him. None of us have the job of making that distinction. It's bad enough that it is inherently sinful. There are multiple problems with IVF. The worst is that usually many new humans are created and only a few implanted. Next awful is that when more than one is implanted, often selective abortion is later practiced if more than one takes hold. The least, but still serious problem is that the new child is the product of a science experiment instead of the loving embrace of a father and mother. That is beneath the dignity of the new child and robs him/her of that right.

It is certainly true that your father makes many couples happy by giving them what they want. The question is - what cost!? You'd also be proud of him if he saved lives by doing liver transplants, right? What if it came out that he was buying livers on a organ black market to save lives? Still saves lives, right? The ends don't justify the means, but few people (even catholics) understand that anymore.


#11

[quote="Betelgeuse, post:1, topic:180431"]
My father is a successful infertility specialist who has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of men and women overcome their infertility through IVF and other means. He is very good at what he does and is a kind and generous man. He has made countless families, including ones who consider themselves Catholic, incredibly happy through a practice condemned by the church.

Has my father committed a mortal sin by providing IVF? If so, what would recommend he do to? He quitting his job would lead myself, my immediate family, and many of the relatives he financially supports to destitution. Is there any equitable solution to my father's profession from a Catholic point of view? What is to be said to the countless families, Catholic, Christian and otherwise who have conceived as a direct result of my dad's services?

[/quote]

I am very moved that you, being a non-Catholic, are having concerns in this area. It shows me that God is working in your life and wants to bring you to a true knowledge of Him and a true love for Him. How wonderful that is! I just want to encourage you to continue searching. Whatever inconveniences you might encounter in this journey will be worth every bit of it and more.
By the way, I, too conceived a baby through IVF before I became Catholic. After knowing what the church teaches, I vowed not to do IVF again even though I still want more children.


#12

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