With the advent of the octuplets in Bellflower, California, just a few miles away from I live I am confronted with the need to remind people again about the immorality of In Vitro Fertilization IVF. Almost thirty years ago the birth of the first ‘test-tube baby’ to survive to full term was news internationally. The delivery of Louise Brown on 25 July, 1978 in Oldham, England as a result of IVF made medical history. And yet the Vatican raised its voice to warn that the event would have “grave consequences for humanity”. Now, thirty years afterwards, it is time to acknowledge that once again history has proven the Church right. The Catholic Church is not against reproductive technologies that respect the dignity of the human person. But it is against IVF precisely because it fails to respect the dignity of humans and also violates the sacredness of the sexual act and marriage itself. It is important to say at the outset that I recognize the ignorance that exists on this subject even among Catholics. It is also important to mention that any human being conceived through IVF is certainly a child of God and must be loved, respected, and protected. What are some of the problems with IVF then?
First of all, as we know babies engendered through IVF are treated as products rather than human beings. They are "produced" in the laboratory in a petri dish where the egg is fertilized with the sperm of the husband, most of the time with the sperm of a donor. In the case of the woman on California who has given birth to 14 children all of them conceived through IVF without being married we can see clearly many of the problems of IVF. Now women do not have to be married to conceive children, they can simply manufacture their own in the lab. In many case the characteristics of the donor are studied to select certain qualities that hopefully will be inherited by the offspring. There is a utilitarian mentality behind this that gives us the idea that we can create perhaps a better race or a better son or daughter with these specified traits. Children created through IVF are subject to Quality Control procedures and like any other "product" they are discarded (killed) when they do not meet the quality criteria. We must remember that all children regardless of how they were conceived are created in the image of God and they have to be loved.
Second, children conceived in IVF are not conceived from the conjugal embrace, they are not conceived out of an act of love, in fact the conjugal has been substituted by IVF. This is not in accordance with the dignity of human persons who must be engendered within an act of love and not simply lab manipulation. IVF does not help the conjugal act, it simply replaces it.
Third, to collect the sperm, most of the time the donor does it through masturbation, which is another immoral act.
Fourth, when sperm from a donor is used, this means, that the real father of the children is someone outside the marriage. This can create confusion in the child later, and in some cases even unplanned legal repercussions. In most cases the donor will remain unknown which can create problems in trying to trace congenital problems or illnesses that can affect that particular line of the family.
Fifth, when using IVF several embryos are created. Some of them will be implanted in the woman, and the rest will be discarded (another word for killed) or frozen. If they are killed this is a crime done in the name of fertility. If they are frozen, this is the most inhuman form of imprisonment of an innocent human person. Totally contrary to God's will.
Sixth, many of the unused embryos can also be "used" today for experimentation or as sources for embryonic stem cells. This implies the killing of the embryo, the taking of a human life in the name of science.
Seventh, at implantation several embryos are used, since it is likely that not all of them will survive after implantation. This is terrible since many of these embryos that do not succeed in the process of implantation will die inevitably due to the caprices of his/her parents. If all of them happen to implant or many of them succeed in implanting (like the case in Bellflower) then the woman is given the alternative to perform another procedure called selective reduction which basically is a selective abortion. How can we justify IVF at all? In Canada there was an interesting case, one woman gave birth to five children engendered by IVF, more than what she ever wanted. She had wanted only one, so she sued her doctor for "wrongful life," demanding that he pay for the cost of raising the four children she did not want.
Eighth, there is also the moral consideration of money. IVF can be quite expensive, especially if the procedure fails and has to be repeated.
Ninth, babies conceived through IVF have a MUCH higher chance of having physical and mental problems than children conceived naturally.
Tenth, every child has the right to be conceived within a marriage and to have a mother and a father, with IVF you open the door to all kinds of awkward possibilities, including not only single moms having children, but even lesbian couples now having and raising "their" own children. That would be another subject, but as we can see the twisted possibilities are simply on the rise.
This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add more!