IVF Adoptions

"Fertility clinics across the country, according to the most recent data available, held about 400,000 frozen embryos as of May 2003. Patients had reserved 88 percent of them for their own future use, and they had earmarked about 3 percent for medical research. Two percent — or about 9,000 embryos — were available for donation to other couples, according to Sean Tipton, director of public affairs at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which collected the data."


"But the debate over embryo adoptions is just beginning to take shape. ‘There are very few moral issues on which the Catholic Church has not yet taken a position. This is one,’ said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, chief spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities." – Alan Cooperman, Washington Post

What is the proximate primary end for an embryo? Birth. What is likely to happen to abandoned IVF embryos? They’re either discarded or used in experiments, i.e. killed. Does the Catholic Church approve of IVF? No (cf CCC 2377). Does the Catholic Church approve of ESCR? No (cf CCC 2273-2275).

Now we’re in a pickle.

Which is worse: allowing hundreds of thousands of embryos to be killed or bypassing the sex act so that those embryos have a chance of being born? I say desperate times call for desperate measures. IVF should still be regarded as objectively wrong and no new embryos should be made, but Catholics should be permitted to adopt extras.

Every child that was conceived by rape or fornication was conceived during an a violation of sexual morality – an act of sin. Yet there is no moral quandry for any Catholic desiring to adopt such a child – or any for that matter. Adoption in no way validates the sinful act involved in the child’s conception. Why, then, is there any doubt regarding adoption of embryos? Is the failure rate a problem? If so, why? Would it not be better for some to survive than none?

What do you think about this? Chime in. The comments are open and I’m all ears. 🙂

Update 06/01/05: Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin has addressed this issue on his blog as well. He’s much more thorough in his breakdown of the issue and he gets far more readers, so I heartily recommend reading his post and the attached comments.