Catholics on Motherhood and IVF

I had a post going about Catholic motherhood, but then I saw this opinion piece this morning about how the family who were victims of that horrible mistaken embryo transfer thinks that the Catholic Church should reverse its decision on IVF.  I read that they were Catholic when I heard about the story the first time and my ears went up a little but hey, lots of Catholics don’t follow Church teaching on contraception and the same is with IVF.  Did anyone else see this?

One thing is for sure, the Church re-explaining its stance on ART was definitely not a personal attack on this specific family – as the author states there have been Church documents explaining the theology behind this for quite a while now.  There was probably just general confusion after this widely publicized story, and rightly so.  I feel similar frustration when people tell me “Oh, so and so did IVF and they’re Catholic.”  ::sigh::  There is a lot of general confusion on this teaching and clarification is obviously necessary.

Also, the document referred to (Dignitas Personae) points to the improper generation of a human being, not the human being itself.  I know I’m going to upset people here, since couples who do IVF have been suffering and would love more than anything to have a child of their own genetics – and I have personally felt that same suffering, but this is akin to saying that rape denies the resulting child the proper perfect generation.  That statement says nothing of the dignity of the resulting person.  As Christians we don’t believe that the ends justify the means.  Means are equally important.

Biological motherhood is a beautiful and glorious thing, but it is not the end all be all and point of our existence.  Despite any insensitivity we sub/infertile women feel in the pew on Sunday, if the Catholic Church believed and taught that, then any and all treatments would be licit.  But it doesn’t.  There is something beyond motherhood and our own desires that matters and that is God’s creation, the sanctity of life.

This is the ultimate proof that Catholics are not about filling the pews but about something bigger.  Principles, true theology beyond our own desires.  This is why we should be weary of churches that promote motherhood at the cost of the sanctity of life and the unborn, without concern for how it happens.

Anyway, did you see this article?   What did you think?

I am intrigued that  a couple who believes in life at conception would be OK with freezing their babies.  I wonder if they would think differently if another couple had mistakenly received their frozen embryo and aborted, as they would have had every right to do?  God bless them for their generosity, but their personal experience clearly points to a flawed system that no amount of rules and precautions can protect against.

13 thoughts on “Catholics on Motherhood and IVF

  1. So sad. Seems like a lot of defensiveness by the man. Why do people insist that they can be Catholic and then reject Catholic teaching? There’s no integrity there. If he doesn’t want to obey the Church, he is free to leave. Sigh. It’s sad all the way around. By the way, he misrepresents the Church. No one in the Church has said that IVF babies are “less than” other babies!! I am not sure how he missed that, with all the study he has been doing…

  2. Wow. What an article. I am particularly intrigued by the way the author continually refers to IVF as a medical treatment, but neglects to actually refer to any REAL medical treatment (the alternatives the Church urges couples to seek out). For example: “but infertile Catholics are supposed to avoid treating a medical condition which prevents them from building or expanding their family?” Where does he get that?? I’d like to know HOW IVF treated his wife’s endometriosis, exactly??

    So very sad. And he acts as if he and his wife are the only ones who are “Catholic” and not able to conceive.

  3. I read the article too and was quite perplexed at his statement ” that a child born of IVF is less perfect than a child created through sexual intercourse”. I couldn’t see where Donum Vitae stated this. Just as you pointed out, it states that in IVF “the generation of the human person is deprived of its proper perfection; namely, that of being the result and fruit of a conjugal act”.

    The key there is the ends do not justify the means. When we start thinking that the ends are justified by any and all means we jump into moral relativism. The Church teaches absolute truth…not relative truth.

    I seems that perhaps the gentleman who wrote the article is not as well acquainted with teh teachings and efforts of the Church as he would like to think. If he was he would know that the Church is diligently seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit in how to guide us regarding embryo adoption. (I don’t mean to imply that this gentleman is not sincere in his beliefs…he seems quite genuine in them, no matter how far off from real Catholic teachnings they may be.)

  4. “This is the ultimate proof that Catholics are not about filling the pews but about something bigger.” –Definitely!

    As tempting as IVF might seem, the end doesn’t justify the means.

  5. Great post! I saw that story on Dateline.

    And the comment you left me is too funny! I can only imagine what you must have thought when your two blog worlds combined! Haha.. It’s a small world, isn’t it? And there just *may* be a play date in the future for our two Clara’s, so I’ll have to post about it if it happens :)

  6. I have friends who are infertile or secondarily infertile. They are actually grateful for the limitations set by the Church (and natural law)–some feel drawn to adoption, others are still discerning

    It is a VERY special couple that trusts in God so much to NOT use these technologies when basically the entire world is ok with it

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