Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve


In vitro fertilization is back in the news. The Alabama Supreme Court in recent weeks issued a ruling that recognized frozen embryos stored for use in IVF were accorded the rights of personhood under the law. Politicians on both sides of the aisle latched onto this political football, with everyone praising what they consider to be the essential good of IVF as an answer to a couple’s desire to have a child. Regrettably, they’re still wrong on the ethics and on the facts.

No one has a right to another person. This is a foundational principle that we wield to battle, in law and life, the evils of slavery, racism, sex trafficking, torture, and kidnapping. Every person is worthy of dignity and protection simply because they exist as a human person. The human body is a complex organism, a delicate machine with millions of parts, intricately functioning to maintain life. Human reproduction requires not one, but two people to achieve success. There’s dysfunction in every body, and some couples may not be able to have children due to these dysfunctions.

Thankfully, there are ethical medical solutions to these dysfunctions, but far too many are counseled that their solution and savior is IVF. The strong emotional response to the loss of fertility drives these couples to make the emotional, and destructively wrong, decision to use IVF.

IVF is morally wrong because, in every step of the process, it violates the basic dignity of the human person. It first promotes the philosophy that one person has a right to another. It intentionally creates multiple children through fertilization, with full knowledge that most of those embryos will be discarded. These fertilized eggs have a complete, unique DNA sequence. They have the essential blueprint that, given adequate hydration, nutrition, and shelter, would develop through all stages of life. They are human persons, like you or me, simply at a different stage of development.

IVF wrongfully deprives the child of the inherent right to be created through an act of mutual love by one’s parents. Instead, they are crafted in a sterile lab by an anonymous technician they will never meet. Once created, the embryos, a scientific term that simply refers to the earliest stage of human development, are frozen. Held in suspense, not permitted to die a natural death, they remain in this metaphysical hell until a scientist deigns to implant them in their mother’s womb.

Many embryos are implanted during the procedure with the hopes that just one of them will result in pregnancy. IVF has a dreadful success rate, meaning that even if a pregnancy is achieved, some number greater than one of these embryos dies in the process. One life created, built on the destruction of untold others.

Emotions are an important part of the human psyche, but they’re also deeply flawed and often wrong. Turning the desire of wanting to have a family into a scorched earth quest to achieve pregnancy at any cost distorts the “essential good” that IVF feigns to offer. It’s akin to a loving father wanting to keep his children safe, so he never lets them leave the house. That’s not love; that’s prison.

We have so much work to do in order to build a culture of life. That’s especially true in these days when it’s a true challenge to convince most of the electorate that there should be some, any limits to abortion. Many of the referendums passed in the days since Dobbs have resulted in even fewer restrictions on abortion than Roe. Parental consent, alternate counseling, doors wide enough for emergency medical equipment to pass through, and physician credentialing are all barriers to abortion too high under the law. If a physician in any other discipline practiced medicine without these basic safeguards, they’d lose their license, be the piñata of the trial bar, and likely jailed.

Despite this challenging work, we can never equivocate because that is the nature of ethics; they are unchanging. No one has a right to possess another person, and no one has the right to kill another person.