Fertility treatment is used
when people can not conceive naturally, usually because of a medical problem
e.g. a man is not producing enough sperm,
or a woman is not ovulating. There are different forms, depending on the problem.
Often, couples may have to try many fertility treatments for months or years
in the hope of success. It doesn’t always work. It can be very expensive.
However, it can bring great pleasure if it is successful. Childless couples
may face the following options:
IVF – In Vitro Fertilisation (in glass): Egg and sperm
are brought together in a test-tube. Embryo is put back inside the woman’s
AI – Artificial Insemination: Sperm is collected and placed
in the woman’s
AIH – Artificial Insemination (Husband): Artificial
Insemination using the husband’s healthy sperm.
AID – Artificial
Insemination (Donor) Artificial Insemination using an anonymous donor’s
sperm, e.g. if the husband’s sperm are not healthy,
or a woman has no partner.
Surrogacy – If a woman cannot have children,
her husband’s sperm
is used to impregnate another woman – a 3rd party. She gives birth
and hands the baby back to the couple.
Some Christians argue life is a gift from God, not a privilege, a right
or something we can demand.
Others argue that infertility is a medical problem, and that if doctors
can treat it, we have a right to expect treatment. Why should it be any
from any other medical problem?
arguments for IVF and AI
It brings happiness to people who otherwise would not be able to have children.
If life comes from God, anything that creates new life must be good.
create loving families.
God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and increased
God wants us to have children.
AGAPE: most loving action is to offer medical
help and to use these God-given gifts of healing.
Golden Rule – “Do
to others as you would have them do to you.” If
you were desperate for a child, wouldn’t you want someone to help you?
views against IVF and AI:
Many Christians believe IVF and AI and other
forms of fertility treatment are wrong because:
whether people have babies or not; if a couple is childless, it may be
God may have chosen these people to devote their lives to other kinds
It goes against “natural law” to
create a child in any way other than through sex.
Church positions on fertility
IVF and AI
Roman Catholic Church
IVF and AI - acceptable, only if:
NO “spare embryos” are created.
No 3rd parties are used.
They do not replace sex within a marriage.
AI - acceptable, only if the husband’s
sperm is used.
AID - not acceptable. AI using a donor is wrong! It brings a 3rd party (another
man) into the marriage.
In an address to Catholic doctors, Pope
Pius XII condemned AID because a third person becoming involved in a marriage
is like "mechanical adultery":
the donor fathers a child (with his sperm) yet he has no responsibility to
the child; and a process that isolates the sacred act of creating life from
the marriage union is a violation of the marriage union (which alone is the
way to create life). However, if the marriage act is preserved, then various
clinical techniques designed to help create new life are not to be condemned."
from Modern Catholic Dictionary
"Any use whatsoever of any method
that stops the natural power of sex to generate life is forbidden."
Pope Pius XI, 1930
Roman Catholic 1987 Report: “Respect
for Human Life and the Dignity of Procreation”
This report gives guidelines for infertility treatment. Main points:
sexual relationships between husband and wife is the proper place for
Children are a gift and a blessing from God.Although science makes some
things possible, it does not make them right. Research must continue into
of infertility, but the morality
of these should
be carefully considered.
All humans have the right to life from of conception. Infertility treatments
must respect that.
Believes it is right for scientists to try to learn more about causes and
cures of infertility.
Accepts using “spare” embryos
in medical research, but only up
to 14 days after fertilisation.
Church of England
IVF is acceptable in all its forms, including the donation of eggs and
sperm by third parties
Experimenting on “spare” human
embryos is acceptable up to 14 days after fertilisation, because up to
14 days a foetus can split
into 2 and form
twins. Therefore, it is not really a human life until 14 days.
1984 Report “Human Fertilisation
"We support the recommendation that
research, under license, be permitted on embryos up to 14 days old and
agree that embryos should not be created
just for scientific research."
Anglican report - 1994
All Churches agree that surrogacy is wrong because:
It involves a 3rd party in a much bigger way than donated eggs and sperm.
strikes at the heart of the family.
It can create massive problems for everyone
concerned, including the child.