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How Can the Church Deny the Right of Women to Use IVF if They Cannot Conceive?


I am an advocate of in vitro fertilization. You may think that it is wrong because it promotes unnatural birth, but have you ever wanted to get pregnant and couldn’t? How can you oppose the right of a woman to have her baby? I would rather women adopt the orphans of this world, but I would never say that because a woman’s "conjugal" love cannot produce a child, she can never have children.


So often these days we deal with the argument that a woman has a right to choose to not have a baby—regardless of the fact that it is already in her womb. Now you are suggesting that a woman has a right to have a baby regardless of how the baby is conceived.

The Catholic Church is not attempting to define anyone’s feelings. It is concerned about what God allows and what he doesn’t. Our rights do not originate in how we feel. They come to us from God.

IVF carries with it a host of moral violations. Msgr. Daniel F. Hoye, the general secretary of the United States Catholic Conference and National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988, expressed grave concern over the decision by the secretary of health and human services to appoint an Ethics Advisory Board which would approve in vitro fertilization experiments in humans. In a letter he said, in part, “Recent studies suggest that over 95 percent of the embryos outside the mother’s body has made possible the deliberate discarding, freezing and experimental manipulation of human beings at their earliest state of development.”

Beyond the horrendous acts that accompany the IVF process, one should recognize that the human person, from the moment of conception, has a dignity that is to be respected. It is not to be used, manipulated, and destroyed so that a woman can have her “right to have a baby.” IVF is also destructive to marriage in ways less obvious but just as real (see Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation).

Simply because we want something does not mean that we have a right to it. If we simply acted on our feelings and pursued whatever we felt like having, there would be utter chaos everywhere. We are not the center of creation; God is. It is God who decides what our rights are. God himself designed our sexuality. It is he who has the right to determine how we are to use it, and he has. He designed the context in which children are to be born, nurtured, and challenged on their way to adulthood. Therefore, each child has a right to be the result of God’s design: the product of the love of father and mother as expressed in the mutual self-gift of sexual union, which fulfills the “I do” of their wedding vows. The design is God’s. No one has the right to counter his design by pulling conception out of its context and de-personalizing it.

For those having difficulty conceiving, it can be a tremendous hardship and sorrow. But skirting the moral law is not the answer. There are licit means to enhance fertility or overcome obstacles that inhibit conception. And as you mentioned, there are many children in the world looking for parents to love them through adoption. Trusting God and working within his laws is the way to approach any challenge we are presented with in life.

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