Isn't the Church's teaching on in-vitro fertilization unfair to couples who cannot conceive?


Full Question

The Church's teaching on the immorality of in-vitro fertilization seems cruel and unfair. Don't married couples have a right to have a child?

Answer

While the Church’s judgment concerning in-vitro fertilization treatments may appear cruel and unfair, it is not. Children are a gift, not an entitlement. The Church teaches that

[M]arriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child, but only the right to perform those natural acts which are per se ordered to procreation. A true and proper right to a child would be contrary to the child’s dignity and nature. The child is not an object to which one has a right, nor can he be considered as an object of ownership: rather, a child is a gift, "the supreme gift" (58) and the most gratuitous gift of marriage, and is a living testimony of the mutual giving of his parents. For this reason, the child has the right, as already mentioned, to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception. (Instruction on Respect for Human Life 8)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us that

Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization). . . 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." (CCC 2377)

Further reading: Donum Vitae


Peggy Frye