The Church forbids in vitro fertilization (IVF), even as an option for couples struggling to conceive a child.
But why? After all, the Church loves babies and asks married couples to be open to God’s gift of new life. Doesn’t IVF demonstrate this willingness to participate in God’s act of bringing children into the world?
Although a couple’s intentions may be good, IVF is ultimately the wrong path to take. This is because procreation shouldn’t be separated from sex.
Following God’s revelation in Scripture and Tradition, the Church teaches that sex and babies go together. While sex doesn’t always lead to children, couples shouldn’t artificially prevent this possibility. And children shouldn’t be created outside of the loving union of husband and wife.
IVF is the flip side of contraception. A person practicing contraception wants sex without the babies. A person using IVF seeks babies without the sex.
IVF ends up reducing the child — conceived in a petri dish — to a product the couple has paid for rather than receiving that child lovingly from God through the marital act.
If medicine can aid the marital act in achieving procreation, then it can be moral. This includes medications that enhance male and female reproductive organs to complete the marital act. Also acceptable are diets that help to improve vaginal lubrication and help the sperm travel to the egg.
The key is that these practices respect the connection between sex and babies. They operate within the system designed by God, not contrary to it.
Infertile couples often suffer intensely, knowing that they won’t be able to have children of their own. We should exercise compassion for these couples and pray that God comforts them.
They do have another option. The couple may choose to adopt children. In doing so, they can fulfill God’s mandate to the first couple (Adam and Eve): “Be fruitful and multiply.” The fruit is the love they give to the children they adopt, who in some cases may not receive it otherwise.
Such love is powerful and leaves a lasting mark on these children, revealing to them the infinite love of their heavenly Father.