Would IVF still be wrong under these circumstances?

A well formed conscience would know and do what the Church teaches. IVF is immoral no matter how you try to go around it. Babies are a gift and not a right. We do not have the right to go against or around God’s will by doing something that is immoral. God Bless, Memaw

No problem! (hope I didn’t come across too harshly:o)

It is very important to understand that this is only a theoretical question. Nobody has ever done IVF without the destruction of many human embryos.

I know that the USCCB will allow a perforated condom when the husband is going through fertility testing - never read it was allow for a later medical procedure that may achieve fertilization. I need to see documentation from the Conference.

Donum Vitae spoke directly to these issues. The marital act cannot be replaced. Conception must occur in the woman not in a dish.

A working paper would not be the same as the finale document and would not have to be considered part of overall teaching.

Here is an article referring to the GIFT procedure and referencing the bishop’s workshop:


the relevant section is near the end



By “unitive” the Church means the mutual giving of self that occurs in the marital act. The “procreative significance” means that the act remains ordered per se to the transmission of human life. We may not break this connection of our own initiative. (CCC 2366).

An act of rape may be procreative but it is not unitive. An act of contraceptive sex in which the woman takes a pill to prevent conception may be unitive but it is not procreative (and some would argue it’s not unitive either, since it does not involve the mutual gift of one’s whole, fertile self). An act of in-vitro fertilization, where a doctor or lab tech is used to bring a child into existence, is procreative in that the act is ordered to the transmission of human life, but it is not unitive because that act (of IVF) is not an act of mutual self giving of the spouses in the marital act. And we may never disassociate the unitive and procreative significance from each other on our own initiative. The fact that the couple has previously or will later engage in procreative and/or unitive acts does not make the act of IVF itself both procreative and unitive.

As I understand it, that was no “final document”. The working papers were published. As I said, the bishops did not come to a decision, but left the issue open, so no final document would be expected.

Please don’t misunderstand. I didn’t say the bishops approved of the GIFT procedure, simply that they neither approved nor condemned it, and that it remains an open issue.

I read the article. The article describes clinical methods currently used to achieve fertilization. I do not see anything that would lead me to believe the Conference is open to these methods. Am I missing something?

IVF is not acceptable under any circumstances. GIFT MAY BE (note, not IS) an acceptable alternative:

The assisted reproductive technology of **Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) **involves three steps.

Medications are used to stimulate the woman to produce more than one follicle and ovum, and to aid in stimulating the follicles to release the ova. During this time the woman’s response to the medication and the development of her ova are watched and assessed.

begins with a laparoscopy performed under general anesthesia to retrieve the ova. The ova are then examined under a microscope to determine maturity. Semen is obtained and processed in a centrifuge, where it is washed and then placed in a test tube so that the active sperm can swim to the top.

consists in transfer of the ova and sperm into the woman’s body. Ova and sperm are placed in a catheter, and the catheter is inserted directly into the woman’[size=2]s fallopian tube through a surgical procedure using a laparoscope. The ova and sperm are then injected into the fallopian tube, with the intent of fertilization occurring in its normal environment within the woman’s body. If fertilization does occur, the developing embryo(s) will remain in the fallopian tube and then move to the uterus for implantation.[/size]

**The use of Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) by marital spouses is not excluded, provided that the following restrictions are observed: **
**1) the retrieval of ova and sperm must follow a natural act of sexual intercourse; **
**2) sperm must be collected from that act of intercourse by morally acceptable means; **
**3) the procedure must be carried out in such a way as to avoid the possibility of extracorporeal conception; **
4) any ova collected but not transferred back into the woman?s body must not be fertilized in vitro,with the resulting embryos frozen for later implantation.
Should a multifetal pregnancy result through the use of the GIFT procedure, pregnancy reduction, that is, the abortion of some of the fetuses, is not permissible.

Sources of Policy
The Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and On the Dignity of Procreation from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1987) did not explicitly pass judgment on the GIFT procedure. (2) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the time the Instruction was issued, gave the following instructions on techniques whose use had been left open: ?When the discussion is still open and there is not yet a decision by the
magisterium, the doctor is required to stay informed, according to classic theological principles and concrete circumstances? and to ?make a decision based on his informed conscience.? (3)
The following directives from the *Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, *based on the Vatican Instruction, are relevant to assessing the moral permissibility of the GIFT procedure:
When the marital act of sexual intercourse is not able to attain its procreative purpose, assistance that does not separate the unitive and procreative ends of the act, and does not substitute for the marital act itself, may be used to help married couples conceive. (no. 38)

  1. Homologous artificial fertilization (that is, any technique used to achieve conception using the gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage) is prohibited when it separates procreation from the marital act in its unitive significance (e.g., any technique used to achieve extra-corporeal conception). (no. 41) (4)
    The restriction concerning the method of collecting sperm is derived from the Church?s long-standing teaching on the immorality of masturbation. This teaching was reaffirmed in 1975 by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Declaration on Certain Problems in Sexual Ethics:
    …both the magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action. The principal argument in support of this truth is that the deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purposes. For it lacks that sexual relationship demanded by the moral order and in which ?the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love? is achieved. All deliberate sexual activity must therefore be referred to the married state. (5)


  1. Fertilitext, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT), fertilitext.org/gift.html; FertilityRX.com, Assisted Reproductive Technology, Section IV: Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT), iop.com/ ~poetsrx/art/gift.html; Reproductive Medicine Group, Tampa, FL, *Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT), *vbtivf.com/GIFT.htm; Lycos Health by WedMD, Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT), and Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT), webmd.lycos.com/content/dmk/dmk_article_5461649; Am-I- Pregnant.com, Gamete/Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer, GIFT, am-i-pregnant.com/giftinv.shtml.
  2. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, *Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and On the Dignity of Procreation *(Donum Vitae) (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1987).
  3. Origins 16/40 (March 19, 1987): 697, 699-11 at 699, marginal notes.
  4. National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (1994) (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1995).
  5. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Certain Problems of Sexual Ethics (Dec. 29, 1975), no. 9, reprinted in Kevin D. O?Rourke , OP and Philip Boyle, OP, Medical Ethics Sources of Catholic Teachings (St. Louis: Catholic Health Association, 1989).
  6. Reprinted in Austin Flannery, O.P. (ed.), Vatican Council II: More Post Conciliar Documents, vol. 2 (Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, 1982).


“Would IVF still be wrong under these circumstances?”

Without reading the circumstances, the answer is yes. Circumstances cannot change an intrinsic evil into a moral good.

The sexual act that produced the semen isn’t immoral, but the act of fertilizing the egg outside of the natural processes of the woman’s body is immoral. It introduces a third party into the procreative process.

IVF is wrong under **ALL **circumstances. It is an intrinsic evil.

See these Vatican documents:

Donum Vitae
Dignitas Personae

The reason I said “when in doubt use your well formed conscience” is because I was going off what the poster you were responding to had said… she said the issue is open. In the case of open issues, it is perfectly acceptable to pray, discern, and use our well formed consciences. We don’t have to avoid every single issue that the church has left open.

Now whether or not this issue actually IS open seems to be debatable. But IF it is, then it is not far fetched to advise someone to use their well formed conscience.

I don’t think that the position that it is open or debatable can be sustained in light of Donum Vtae, Dignitas Personae, and the Catechism which states:

2376 Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ “right to become a father and a mother only through each other.”

2377 Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. the act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children."167 “Under the moral aspect procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union … Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.”

2378 A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. the “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”

2379 The Gospel shows that physical sterility is not an absolute evil. Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s Cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others.

See Deacon Jeff’s posts, especially post #31. Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (or GIFT), which is substantially a different process than IVF, is the process the morality of which apparently remains an open question, or at least has not been condemned by name.

It is very important to understand that this is only a theoretical question. Nobody has ever done IVF without the destruction of many human embryos.

I thought it was possible to do IVF without the destruction of embryos, but the reason they don’t is because it’s more expensive and less successful to only create and implant one or two embyros at a time. If it’s not possible to do IVF without destroying embryos, then I can see why it’s always wrong.

I can also understand why IVF is wrong if it has an high risk of miscarriage.

But I cannot for the life of me understand why it’s wrong to create a baby without sex, in and of itself.

It appears GIFT is what the OP is actually unknowingly referring to. If the sources provided by SMOM above are accurate, it would seem as though this really is an open issue.

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