What's wrong with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

If you have a child conceived by IVF it is important to understand that each and every child conceived by IVF is precious, beautiful and loved by God. This is also true of every child regardless of how he or she was conceived, whether it be by an unmarried teenager, an affair outside of marriage, a test tube, or a child that is abandoned by the parents and adopted. Every child is legitimate, and every human has inherent dignity, but not every means of conception is morally defensible. Here's the quick list of the problems with IVF. The full article goes into the details:

  • Every biologist agrees that life begins at conception.
  • 24 out of 25 human beings conceived using IVF die. The IVF industry boasts a 40% rate "success" rate, but they consider it a "success" if one baby survives. If 24 people die in a bus crash and one survives, we wouldn't call that a "success". IVF practitioners usually do 2 or 3 implantations of several humans each cycle, which brings down the survival rate to about 4% for each baby conceived.
  • Many babies are frozen and later thawed, which has a survival rate lower than the slave ships from Africa in the 1600's.
  • IVF babies form the distribution stream for stem cell research which experiments on them and kills them.
  • Every IVF doctor is an abortionist by design. They implant a number of tiny human beings into the womb. If too many succeed, they abort some of them by sticking a needle into their heart tissue. This is called "Reduction".
  • IVF babies are being screened and selected based on sex and other characteristics: this is Eugenics (designer babies). It objectifies the humanity of the children.
  • IVF is being used for cloning.
  • IVF separates the "procreative" and "unitive" aspects of a sexual relationship, resulting in a spiral of personal and social problems. For those who think the Catholic Church is "anti-sex", a Catholic objection to IVF is that it involves no sex, the two did not "become one flesh", to create this life.
  • IVF violates the dignity of the children, often means missing parents. It facilitates a spiral of distortions to the natural family, which according to many sociologists, provides the best chances for a well adjusted child.
  • IVF is the logical outcome of an abortion minded society. Once a moral wrong is instilled in society, and is accepted, it causes another moral wrong to arise to compensate for the harmful effects of the first. There are very few babies available for adoption because they are being aborted. Two wrongs don't make a right.
  • IVF fosters a mindset that every couple has the "right" to have a baby rather than the privilege granted by God.

IVF usually involves freezing babies that are later thawed, which has a survival rate lower than the slave ships from Africa in the 1600's.

"Unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles"
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V Scene I

The following questions and answers were created from a dialog with an Evangelical couple who tried to justify IVF while the treatments themselves were unsuccessful. They experienced a spiral of unfortunate circumstances, and went to the Saint Paul VI Institute for natural treatment to the infertility and today have a beautiful naturally conceived child.

Can IVF be used in a morally acceptable way if all the embryos are kept and not destroyed?

Some Christians, try to use IVF in a morally defensible way. They implant no more than three embryos and make sure that it is the husband's sperm and the wife's egg, and freeze the leftover for future implantation.

It is immoral to freeze a live human being. This should be self evident. If they aren't frozen, it will cost $12,000 or more for a 3% chance of pregnancy. And even then there is a 3% chance that the 3 babies will live. Some will die.

Don't people have miscarriages from intercourse, so what's wrong with some babies dying during IVF?

People die all the time but that does not mean we can end human lives or put them in harm's way. Although IVF has a 10-20% success rate, each embryo has about a 96% chance of dying. Using IVF is like putting people on an airplane when we know one engine will fall off, leaving them a 4% chance of survival. The excuse that people die in air crashes all the time would not be justifiable. To equate the occasional loss of life through marital intercourse with IVF's intentional, systematic, and much greater ratio of loss of life is problematic.

IVF was founded on dishonest logic

In 1978 the first test tube baby survived. The number of tiny humans who died to achieve this is countless. Pope John Paul II said it was immoral. The chief scientist Edwards, who is now about 80 years old, and totally unrepentant for causing massive loss of life, recently gave an interview where he said:

“I wanted to find out exactly who was in charge, whether it was God Himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory - it was us! The Pope looked totally stupid...It was a fantastic achievement, but it was about more than infertility. It was also about issues like stem cells and the ethics of human conception.”

Dr Peter Brinsden, Edwards’ successor at the Cambridgeshire clinic he founded, predicts that:

“in 50 years assisted conception will have almost become the norm. This is because screening techniques will have improved to such an extent that parents can make their children free of even minor defects.”

The justifications for funding and early research were to provide childless families with children. This reason was given to soften public opinion, to get permission to research, and obtain funding. It did not describe the intentions of the founders. This is another red flag. It was built on a lie. The following is a dialogue with an evangelical, who later repented for being involved in IVF:

Edward's statement is itself foolish. But that has nothing to do with whether IVF is morally appropriate.

It seems odd to say that the “foolish” logic of the pioneer would have no bearing on a discussion of the product that resulted from his faulty logic. Although it is correct to say that perhaps something "good" can come from a biotechnology inventor’s faulty logic, his logic certainly has a bearing on the discussion. For example, Margaret Sanger's "foolish" eugenics philosophy belongs in the discussion about the legitimacy of Planned Parenthood and the abortion issue.

Isn't it poor logic to hamper today's advances out of fear of tomorrow's mischief?

IVF experimentation was "mischief" from the beginning and still is. The word "mischief" is not an accurate term for the incredible evil that is being committed with this technology. Our Evangelical friends says:

This position could be equally used to prohibit natural procreation unassisted by science. Since there are babies waiting to be adopted, people should stop having their own children. A pretty unbiblical chestnut if there was one.

There are ethical ways to use science to help fertility without the death found in of IVF. Adoption *and* natural procreation are both in the Bible. Moses was adopted (Exodus 2:7-9), Esther was adopted (Esther 2:7) and even Jesus was adopted by Joseph. The Bible makes clear the wholesomeness of stepping in and adopting a precious child, and yet it also makes clear the goodness and preference of natural procreation (Gen 1:28). The intentions of the movement and its steps to arrive there are absolutely relevant to any discussion of the legitimacy of the movement. Our Evangelical friends says:

In fact, as Christians we might go as far as to argue that IVF is a moral imperative, saving lives, where chance of success exists?

That's bizarre. IVF doesn't save lives. It conceives them and then let's 99% of them die. The distinction here is that every failure means the death of a human being. More failure means more human death and that is absolutely relevant. Cancer treatments do not *cause* death like IVF. Cancer research is not build on malicious logic, it is not built on the death of millions. It is not built on deception from its roots the way IVF was. A failed cancer treatment does not create life to destroy it. There is a clear distinction. To equate cancer treatment, with IVF’s systematic creation and destruction of life is problematic.

ask those tens of thousands of children conceived by IVF, some of whom are young adults, whether they are glad that their parents took that chance.

Each and every child conceived by IVF is precious, beautiful and loved by God. This is also true of every child conceived regardless of how he or she was conceived, whether it be by an unmarried teenager, a child of rape, incest, a test tube, or a child that is abandoned by the parents and adopted. Every child is legitimate but not every means of conception is morally defensible.

(That is not necessarily an argument in favor of IVF, simply an argument which cancels the RC [Roman Catholic] roller-coaster low-chance-of-success argument).

I don’t think it would be best to relegate this discussion to “us vs. them”  (RC’s vs. Evangelicals). If something is true, it is true whether it is being said by an RC or an Evangelical. To say otherwise would be relativistic. There are plenty of great Evangelicals who think IVF is very problematic even while trying to minimize the moral implications by the “ethical treatment” of embryos. There is absolutely no unity on this in the Evangelical world and this is also a red flag. Our Evangelical friend says:

What's wrong with a murderous technology, if it's used for good?

Our Evangelical friend writes:

we all agree that even if a technological advancement in therapeutic biotechnology might be then used to build some murderous biological weapon, we would still encourage the therapeutic biotechnology and then condemn the weaponry. Some might parse it even more closely and argue solely against the use of such weaponry.

There are several distinctions. The murderous biological weaponry of IVF is ongoing, that’s how it was founded, that’s how it was developed, and that’s how the industry is maintained. It would never survive on the odd Christian trying to use it in an “ethical” way. The abominations are happening in Kligman’s clinic using the same medical instruments, the same people, and the same bank account. Every client is funding it.

Dr. Kligman wrote a text on septic abortion, where he called babies “management of gynecological and obstetrical entities.” He’s lecturing along side of abortion doctors and stem cell researchers. He’s part of the drive to move an agenda forward that is threatening the underpinnings of the American culture.  If my doctor was responsible for the death of just one person, it would be called “malpractice” and I would leave him. He would lose his license. This doctor is hiding behind unjust laws regarding abortion and embryonic research, to justify the death of not just one human. He has aborted thousands of babies through reduction. He is an abortionist because he has committed abortion.

IVF isn't about cloning so why mention it?

Our Evangelical friends says:

I'm not talking about cloning and neither should the author - given that the title to his article is In Vitro Fertilization.

To remove an intention of the pioneer and his successors to the present day, from the discussion of the legitimacy of the technology is problematic. It’s possible that some good could come from poor motives, but like Margaret Sanger, we can not only tell a tree by its fruit, but we can get some indication of the fruit from the health of the tree. (Mat 21:19). I suggest that the IVF tree is rotten to the core. (Mat 21:19)

Keep in mind that IVF itself stands on the shoulders of earlier medical advancements. By RC reasoning, we should now go back and invalidate those earlier advancements based on the evil they have now produced in the form of IVF. We can all agree that a number of those earlier advancements (ultrasound, surgical techniques, imaging, microscopes etc) are morally neutral. One can quickly see the absurdity of the position. Whether something is wrong must be determined by looking at the thing itself.

There was a distinct break in morality from its foundation, and from every development along the way. It is very similar to abortion which was built on medical advancements. IVF was built on Edward’s lie, which, as you suggest, was “foolish logic.” IVF is used for what we would agree to be immoral 99% of the time and we disagree on the other 1% of “ethical uses”. The evidence piling up against its use is definitely admissible to the conversation.

If God is the author of life, doesn't he create life using IVF too?

Our Evangelical friend writes:

God, not the author and not Dr. Edwards, who creates life. IVF simply and solely does what we as humans can do to create the best circumstances for the infertile couple to conceive and have a child. God does the rest.  This is an argument in favor of IVF.

Every life is legitimate and loved by God, but I don’t think every form of conception is morally defensible. Rape, incest, sex before marriage etc… But we can even use less charged examples. Lesbian couples use the same rationalization for IVF. God allows terrible things to happen but it’s not necessarily his will that things come about this way. I would propose that we can objectively look at every development along the way and see consistent faulty logic and massive loss of life.

IVF is not necessarily abortion and prenatal selection (designer babies) so why mention it?

I'm not talking about pre-natal sex selection and neither should the author given that the title to his article is In Vitro Fertilization.

The entire IVF industry uses reduction which is abortion, and it often involves sex selection. IVF and abortion are intimately related. Even if a Christian agrees on the immorality of 99% of the uses of IVF and wants to try to use it in a morally acceptable ways, the interconnection of the evil of sex selection is significant to the discussion on whether it is legitimate for couples to even consider attempting to use it in an “ethical way” when down the hall their dollars are being spent on selective eugenics. Irrespective of whether in 1% of cases it can be used ethically, and we suggest they can’t, the evidence against this technology is getting heavier and heavier.

[And Dr Peter Brinsden, Edwards successor at the Cambridgeshire clinic he founded, predicts that in 50 years assisted conception will have almost become the norm.]

I heartily disagree. The destination of this technology is definitely admissible to the discussion. We don’t send money or use the services of Planned Parenthood, even though once in a while they might say something helpful to a teenager, like “you should treat that HPV virus”.  We will not participate in their murderous intentions to change the way youth relate to sex, and we will not participate in the way Brinsden and IVF practitioners, intend to change the way that adults conceive.

How can you say that Edwards, the founder of IVF is a sinner?

He has yet to establish that it is a sin or that those responsible for IVF will ever be called to reckoning. I'd be concerned if I were Dr. Edwards, but not because I had a hand in IVF, instead I'd be worried about the stance of my heart against God (seemingly), an entirely separate problem. 

Only God can judge Dr. Edwards. However, the objective facts are that he is responsible for numerous deaths and I will even use the word murder. Murder is the intentional taking of life, with full knowledge of the implications. Reduction fits this definition.  It is a result of setting his heart against God, and he has dragged the entire culture along with him. The intention of creating humans to destroy them is not at all the same as the occasional natural miscarriage in an intimate marital relationship.

Aren't IVF researchers in the vanguard of attacking sin in the world and restoring order?

Our Evangelical friend continues:

In fact, careful exposition of the scripture would lead one to believe that IVF scientists are in the vanguard of attacking the effects of sin on the natural world. They do so with no less skill or biblical approbation than those who have invented ways of desalinating water to irrigate deserts, or those who create disease resistant strains of seeds and plants that bring agrarian success and food to malnourished areas of the world, or indeed those who discover drugs and interventions for the myriad of other diseases and physical maladies in addition to infertility. We may not have as much common ground as I originally believed. You are suggesting that IVF scientists are attacking sin in the world where their entire industry is build of death for profit. The systematic creation and death of human person is not equivalent to feeding starving people and discovering medical cures. This analogy is a great disappointment. There are ethical ways to scientifically address infertility. The irony stands out where the RC Church would argue vehemently that we as Christians should be about such work as that of eradicating poverty and other results of the fall, but not infertility. What did infertility do wrong to get singled out thusly?

Many great faithful researchers are engaged in the fight against sterility without degrading and compromising life like IVF. While fully safeguarding the dignity of human procreation some have achieved results which previously seemed unattainable. Scientists therefore are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing the causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born. Napro Technology is much more successful than IVF and it destroys no embryos and does not separate sex from procreation. Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Reproductive Care

What is Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae? Why should Evangelicals read them?

Donum Vitae is the document written by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became Pope Benedict XVI. It is the official Vatican statement about IVF. Our Evangelical friend says:

  Catholics grant authority to the Donum Vitae but Protestants do not.

I am not crazy about a divisional approach (Catholics vs. Evangelicals). Many great Evangelicals would disagree with many of the arguments for IVF presented above.

Even if we don’t want accept the authority of the Donum Vitae (the Church’s position on IVF), It’s a great read, in the same way as a Catholic might enjoy reading a book by Focus on the Family. Why should we ignore a great piece of writing just because we don’t agree that it has moral authority over us? It takes an hour to read and is a much more articulate discussion of IVF than anything we can provide. http://www.cin.org/vatcong/donumvit.html. The Dignitas Personae is here.

Aren't Catholics uptight about sex and aren't Catholics always putting procreation first?

Our Evangelical friends says:

Next, we finally get to the RC sexual ethic.  Sex to the RC is at its essence procreative in nature.

That this is a profoundly flawed view of Catholicism’s approach to sex. Faithful Catholics who practice NFP have great sex, and they have incredible intimacy, and long marriages … women find it a heck of a lot more sexy for a man to say “I love you and I’m willing to have a baby with you.” Than to say… “I want your body and don’t want your fertility.”

According to the Bible, however, sex is a matter of union between a man and a woman creating first one flesh, mirroring in some mystery the union of Christ with the church. There is no mention of procreation in the most profound biblical discourse on sexual union, Ephesians 5.

I suggest the unitive and procreative elements of a relationship are inseparable. You are referring to Ephesians 5 which says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a restatement of Genesis 2:24, but it is preceded by Gen 1:28.

The first thing mentioned in the Bible after God created man and woman was: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and  multiply,” ( Genesis 1:28) It isn’t until the second account of creation that we read: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Yet RCs advance procreation so far ahead of union and pleasure and sometimes go so far as to downgrade those aspects out of the picture.  But even if we, for the sake of argument, accept the RC position on the procreative nature of conjugal union, it does not logically follow that any baby produced in any way other than by intercourse is wrong.

We don’t think this is accurate. We do not put procreation ahead of pleasure. We simply suggest that a functional relationship cannot separate the two, you cannot have true long term pleasure and separate sex from the openness to life. Their separation is the cause of many social problems we have been facing in the last 40 years. We suggest Christopher West’s explanation of “Theology of the Body.” It is a new sexual revolution introduced by John Paul II and it is being adopted by 10,000’s of faithful Evangelicals also. It blows away IVF.  http://www.christopherwest.com/

How do we know that IVG harms women, children and society?

Sorry, you don't get to just state a conclusion like that without support.

Kligman’s IVF clinic has one psychologist for every 3 doctors. That’s unprecedented even in cancer facilities. The message boards are full of people who have been profoundly affected by IVF. We don’t think anyone disputes that this procedure is extremely invasive, perhaps second only to abortion.  Even Kligman admits it is a psychological minefield. We don’t think it's disputable that it harms children, millions die, nor do we think it’s disputable that it harms society unless you are OK with what’s going on as a result of this.

How do we know God did not invent IVF to help mankind?

IVF's moral foundation is unrelated to and unaffected by whether participating parents view a child as an
object of right or ownership. The woman undergoing IVF may view it purely as a gift from God and entrust whether IVF is successful entirely to divine sovereignty.

To think that we can isolate sin from our participation in it and our funding of it is problematic. At the end of creation, God said “And God saw that it was good.”  I don’t think God would create a technology from the following:

  • Funded by misrepresenting its goals
  • Developed by intentionally creating  millions of humans with the full knowledge that the hostile environment will result in over 99% death rate. (the odds of a treatment are 10-20% but the survival of each baby is closer to 1%)
  • Has abortion (Reduction) as a core "procedure" integral to "treatment"
  • Intended by the founders and all their successors (to the present day) to provide babies for stem cell experimentation
  • Intended for the founders and all their successors (to the present day) to foster Eugenics (same foundation as planned parenthood)
  • Intended by the founders and all their successors (to the present day) to change the way families are formed in the mainstream and now used that way
  • Arm in arm with the abortion industry supported by the founders and all their successors (to the present day).
  • The cause of profound disunity among Christians (not only Catholic vs. Evangelicals but rather Evangelicals vs. Evangelicals)

How could there possibly be a Christian unity model based on the acceptance, or conditional acceptance of  IVF? We don’t think a Christian can participate in the funding of this industry and promote it in good conscience and many Evangelicals agree.

IVF deprives Christians of serving the poor

IVF makes rich doctors richer and it makes Christians with money poorer without contributing to the poor. Christians with money who want to serve the Christ could use that $15,000 a round to sow into the poor. IVF in this way is part of our extreme consumer mentality.

IVF is not very successful. IVF has a low success rate. Natural family planning is much better.

This concept that the measure of chance of success somehow invalidates a medical procedure could be used against a plethora of cancer treatments and other valiant attempts to save lives. Aren't there many cancer and other medical treatments that have lower chances of success than various reproductive technologies. But we do not hesitate to utilize them.

SPUC President Mgr Anthony Fisher notes:

“IVF is in fact not a very successful technology. The best programs report success rates of around 15% and this rate seems to have plateaued. Women can keep going back for cycle after cycle, but for most after a long series of highly intrusive procedures and a roller-coaster of emotions there will be no child at the end. Evidence of serious psychological ill-effects of these procedures is now emerging, especially for women whom these new biotechnologies fail. In the next generation we are likely to have a whole cohort of women suffering post-IVF trauma just as in our generation we have had so many suffering from post-abortion trauma. And yet again we can expect denial all round.”

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