Test tube babies


If a scientist forms a human embryo in a lab and we were to rescue one, what would be the moral thing to do if they cannot develop unless used for IVF or if they are not killed from embryonic stem cell research? Since the other two are also evil, what are we suppose to do with these “test tube babies”, also, is it morally wrong to freeze the embryos?


The scientist was wrong to create the embryo in the first place. We wouldn’t be in the wrong if we allowed the embryo to implant in a mother. The scientist was the one who fertilized the egg outside a mother, so they’re the one who’s guilty of using IVF.

Whether it’s wrong to freeze a human… is really a question that ought not come up, since they’re not supposed to be in freezers. But assuming the blastocyst needs to be stored before we can get them to the mother, I think the morality of freezing them would depend on whether it was a risk to their healthy development. I don’t know how freezing affects humans at the earliest stages. I should look it up.

(How far along is this “embryo”, though? I’m pretty sure the blastocyst needs to implant before it becomes an embryo, so I’m not really sure how this hypothetical child is still alive.)


Okay, I’ll go out on a limb on this one. First, the embryo’s are the children of the parents; whomever they may be. So taking them would be kidnapping perhaps? What to do about embryo’s in a frozen state? They are in a unnatural state, outside the womb. So perhaps the moral thing to do would be to allow them to die? Anyone else want to tackle this?:banghead:


Actually, I think it’s a bit dicier than this. There was a thread made a bit ago about this specific issue: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=745169

Basically, it boils down to the fact that implanting an embryo even with an adoptive mentality still “presents …] various problems” according to Dignitas Personae.


Oh, I see. But we can’t just let them die, so…? :ehh:


It’s one of those gray areas in which every option seems bad. It’s like one of those philosophical dilemmas that asks people to choose between the lesser of two evils… It’s so unfortunate that this has even become an issue, what to do with frozen children. How sad.


That thread was an amazingly interesting and depressing read. It seems this really is a big issue we have to deal with. I didn’t realize this. I assumed the “extra” children were always discarded- had no idea they stored them so long.

I’m thinking that this is situation where if I err, I’d rather err on the side of saving lives. It seems we really don’t know whether or not it’s immoral to implant an embryo in order to save their life, but I really don’t see how we can just leave people to die, especially if the Church hasn’t authoritatively declared that the means of saving them are immoral.

But then, I know next to nothing about the procedures involved in such an adoption, so there could very well be other immoral parts to it. I don’t know. It’s bothering me that I don’t know, because there are literally thousands of lives at stake.


wait a minute! did you mean FROZEN EMBRYO like a chunk of flesh cut off from a cow and kept in the freezer until we are ready to cook? definitely the human person has more worth (than harvesting embryos as if from a lab rat)
anyway you should not bother about these questions until science can create living cells in the lab from non-living things. until then please don’t harvest embryos for ivf, cloning, surrogacy or alternative forms of reproduction. there is only one moral form of reproduction: conception by sexual intercourse between a married couple.


can doctors please allow embryos to stay peacefully in their comfortable natural home? we should stop dethroning God in order to enthrone science.


Yes, we know that they shouldn’t exist in their current circumstances. But they already do. The question now is, what do we do with them? They could be saved, but it would require someone to “adopt” one and carry them to term. Many people believe that this is immoral, as they consider pregnancy to be part of the procreative act that should only take place between a husband and wife. The Church hasn’t ruled either way, she has only said that both options present problems. Yet to do nothing would be to kill the embryos through inaction, and I can’t see how that is acceptable.

This situation should never have happened. But it did, and we need to know what to do about it now.


let’s take some parts of st JohnPaul II’s humanae vitae

  1. From this it follows that they are
    not free to act as they choose in the
    service of transmitting life, as if it
    were wholly up to them to decide
    what is the right course to follow.
    On the contrary, they are bound to
    ensure that what they do
    corresponds to the will of God the

  2. Though it is true
    that sometimes it is lawful to
    tolerate a lesser moral evil in order
    to avoid a greater evil or in order to
    promote a greater good," it is never
    lawful, even for the gravest
    reasons, to do evil that good may
    come of it —in other words, to
    intend directly something which of
    its very nature contradicts the
    moral order, and which must
    therefore be judged unworthy of
    man, even though the intention is
    to protect or promote the welfare of
    an individual, of a family or of
    society in general.

  3. The teaching of the Church
    regarding the proper regulation of
    birth is a promulgation of the law
    of God Himself. And yet there is no
    doubt that to many it will appear
    not merely difficult but even
    impossible to observe.

  4. But
    now We join Our voice to that of
    Our predecessor John XXIII of
    venerable memory, and We make
    Our own his words: "No statement
    of the problem and no solution to it
    is acceptable which does violence to
    man’s essential dignity; those who
    propose such solutions base them
    on an utterly materialistic
    conception of man himself and his

----- from these pieces (though not specifically directed at this case, but still applicable) we may hold it as more moral to try to save the embryos within the labs were they were made


OK, but that’s literally not possible at the moment. We can’t save the embryos without implanting them. They will die if they don’t have a means of gaining nutrition. In effect, they will starve to death.

If we say that it is immoral to implant an embryo in someone who is not the biological mother, we are saying that thousands of people who could theoretically be saved must be allowed to die.


It is interesting reading this just how little people know about IVF. I am guessing this is why the Church is not able to handle the moral questions that surround it. If you do not know with certainty why people choose to go this route, what happens, the associate scientific and medical issues, etc., how can you possibly form an opinion, let alone a “teaching”, on the subject? It is scary that people who know so little can feel so strongly.

Yes, we did go through IVF. Yes, we have a frozen embryo. Yes, we plan on trying to have the child. And we have two beautiful children already from it. You all accuse doctors and people who go through the process of viewing children as commodities. The fact that you are even having the debate you are having suggests you are guilt of the same. Go talk to a child born because of IVF, and you’ll have your answer of whether the embryo should be “saved”.

You might also want to talk to some IVF parents. You’ll learn that the decision was extremely difficult and so was the process, 95% of the time. You’ll learn that they did it because they loved each other and wanted to create a life together, but for whatever reason it wasn’t possible naturally (and you’ll learn they never stopped trying). Then talk to doctors and learn the real science behind it, including natural selection.

Then go look a few IVF children in the eye and tell them “you’re beautiful, but you’re not really supposed to be here”, because that’s effectively what you’re saying. I’d challenge anyone who so forcefully opposes IVF to do this. No one is playing God. They’re taking the gifts God gave them to help people who aren’t able to have children “naturally” create lives that are as much God’s children as any others, and that He intended to be born.


The Church opposes IVF. If you believe that IVF is not immoral, nobody will stop you from arguing that point, but it must be understood that it is unacceptable according to the Church. I’m also aware that in many cases the “extra” embryos are indeed discarded.

I don’t think that saying IVF is immoral is the same as saying that a child conceived in such a way is not worthy if life. We would always defend the right to life of a child conceived in rape, even though they were conceived due to someone’s sin. The same must be true of these children. They are precious, just as any human life is.

I admit that I don’t know much about IVF or these “extra” embryos. My gut instinct is to give people a chance to live, but I don’t know much about the procedures involved. I’m going to have to read about this.


to respond to what you say about the embryos definitely dying without IVF i will quote the catechism of the Catholic church on embryos and how she considers killing them even by OMISSION

2274 Since it must be treated from
conception as a person, the embryo
must be defended in its integrity,
cared for, and healed, as far as
possible, like any other human being.

2277 Whatever its motives and means,
direct euthanasia consists in putting
an end to the lives of handicapped,
sick, or dying persons.
It is morally unacceptable.
Thus an act or omission which, of
itself or by intention, causes death in
order to eliminate suffering
constitutes a murder gravely contrary
to the dignity of the human person and
to the respect due to the living God,
his Creator.
The error of judgment into which one
can fall in good faith does not change
the nature of this murderous act,
which must always be forbidden and

—while these two articles seem to support IVF in this instance, let’s take a step further before reaching an early conclusion

2278 Discontinuing medical
procedures that are burdensome,
dangerous, extraordinary, or
disproportionate to the expected
outcome can be legitimate; it is the
refusal of “over-zealous” treatment.
Here one does not will to cause death;
one’s inability to impede it is merely

— so you might not kill the embryos even by omission. however their extraordinary IVF treatment can be discontinued legitimately.
Here one does not will to cause death;
one’s inability to impede it is merely
this is what I meant earlier by saying science seeks to dethrone God. we can try to save a life. but do you wish to say that there is no limit for man when he is trying to save a life? How far can one go to save a life?


while Kamaduck’s response is exactly what I have in mind, let me draw your attention to something else.
read the extracts of what you wrote above. it implicitly implies that you claim to know much about IVF. I really appreciate your wisdom and knowledge. however our ‘debate’ is not based on issues surrounding human wisdom but on issues surrounding divine wisdom. under philosophical ethics you point is valid (and be rest assured that we might have made that point as well long before you posted it). nevertheless I guess you will remember the sharp contrast St Paul made between the divine wisdom and human wisdom.


The procedure we are discussing here, as I understand it, is not IVF. IVF has already occurred in this instance- the egg has been fertilized outside the womb. This was immoral. The question is whether it is moral to then save the child by allowing them to implant in another woman’s uterus.

I’m not sure whether such a procedure would count as “extraordinary”, given that there is a real chance of giving the child a normal life. They can be saved, and the procedure is probably not so dangerous that the risk outweighs that benefit. We are able to impede their death. The real issue is whether a woman can morally carry and give birth to a child that is not biologically her own. I don’t know the answer. Even so, I think it is preferable to allowing them to die. I would rather risk the sin of bringing life into the world improperly than risk the sin of allowing someone to die unnecessarily.


The Church had to reason her way to her teaching on this subject, Divine wisdom likely did not flat out tell Church leaders “IVF is wrong”, it would have been invoked to interpret the facts about IVF and come to a conclusion about them. This leads me to “if the facts are wrong, the teaching may be as well”, since the facts are gathered using human mechanisms. Keep Pope Francis’ statement that faith and reason naturally work together. Divine wisdom does not (rarely?) gives THE answer. It guides reasoning to it. I do not believe the Church fully understands the topic, I also know Catholic theologians who realize that it is an evolving practice with many, many complexities and variations. Hence I do not believe in this case that the Church’s teaching is well-founded at this point.

That notwithstanding, to the point about “even children of rape…” and they’re all God’s gifts, etc… I’m sorry but that’s a bit of a cop-out. If the child is God’s gift, then is not the means of delivery implicitly also? You cannot on one hand say, “your parents did wrong to go through the process so you could be born” and on the other say “but you should be here, you are God’s gift”. You can massage that any way you want to, but it just does not make sense.

To the original question, again, go meet some children born of the conditions you are talking about, and you should have your answer about what to do, regardless of whether it’s born of a different woman than the biological mother.


Honestly, your condescending tone does nothing for your position. Second, it’s not that hard to understand the basics of IVF, and plenty of people inside and outside the Church understand the complexities as well.

Let’s see if I understand the basics and you tell me where I’m off course: A couple that has reached the stage of IVF, after undergoing other treatments first, have the eggs and sperm harvested from the parents. The IVF facility uses these to create 6-12 babies, and out of this, 2-4 are selected to implantation. The rest are frozen for use in the future.

Now exactly how much more information is needed before we can begin to apply moral principles to these events?

I talk to a child born of IVF all the time, two in fact. They are dear friends of my daughter. They are very cute and awesome kids.

I talk to the parents of the children mentioned above. They are great people. It doesn’t mean that IVF is moral because they are nice and the children are great.

Why would someone do this? What is wrong with you?

Should I also go up to a child born from rape and tell them they shouldn’t be here? Or do I have to accept rape as moral because the child is great? Just because there can be good outcomes from something doesn’t make it automatically moral.

Of course they are God’s children, but that doesn’t mean we should be doing IVF. God can create IMMENSE good out of our bad actions. It doesn’t mean He wants us to continue doing those bad actions.

Now removing my grumpy and snarky tone: Please go as quick as possible and rescue your child that is frozen right now. He/She is waiting for you.


It’s not a cop-out. Do you think that children concieved in rape are not precious? Of course they are. They have souls. They are children. Their lives are every bit as sacred as yours or mine.

None of that changes the fact that rape is a grave sin.

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