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IVF and Catholicity

(167 Posts)
RaisinGirls Wed 06-Apr-16 08:42:15

I am really struggling at the moment and would appreciate any support you can offer. I have one DD but have also had 3 MC.

After much soul searching I have decided to go for IVF as due to my age I really feel like it's the last roll of the dice, and I would dearly like my DD to have s sibling.

I have now started IVF but can't shake the feeling that what I am doing is wrong as I am a Catholic. I feel deeply guilty by what I am doing and feel like I can't go to Mass anymore. Has anyone a perspective that can help me?

quickncjustincase Wed 06-Apr-16 09:23:51

Work at a Catholic school. Our kids are taught in RE that fertility treatment is in line with Catholic teaching as it allows marital procreation. It gets a bit more complicated in terms of exactly which bits are okay - it has issues with donors, sperm samples and 'spare embryos'. However, in the modern era these teachings are potentially a little outdated. Highly devout friends who attend church religiously (no pun intended) have found peace with small compromises for the modern world. In essence, the concept that it is through God's grace that the process of IVF was created in his ongoing pursuit of procreation - so long as it is done between a husband and a wife.

Ultimately, it is down to your own beliefs - which do you think is more accurate of God's plan for you - to be a mother and raise children in His name, or to show patience in His plan?

Good luck making a difficult decision.

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:14:05

The Catholic church is against IVF.

In having IVF more embyos are created than used, more eggs are fertilised than used. To date even in the UK 1.7 million embryos have been incinerated as a a result of IVF. Every cycle of IVF results in fertilised eggs being destroyed. I can't see how this can be justified in the light of Catholic teaching.
It's no better than early abortion.

Annarose2014 Wed 06-Apr-16 13:20:30

That's utterly bizarre, I live in Ireland and the church isn't remotely opposed to IVF! I have tons of friends who've done it and there's been no comment.

It may be "official doctrine" but like many of them, it certainly hasn't filtered down. No priest here would dare interfere in something so private. Not these days!

IrenetheQuaint Wed 06-Apr-16 13:26:55

Isn't there a Catholic friendly type of IVF which avoids creating surplus embryos?

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:27:25

annarose- yet the church does have a say in something "so private" as contraception.

Why is that? Is it OK to cherry pick?

This is from the pope:

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:29:41

And yet the church interferes with "something so private" as contraception, and abortion. Fairly close issues.

The pope says:
"Catholic teaching prohibits in vitro fertilization, maintaining that a child has the right to be conceived in the marital embrace of his parents. Human sexuality has two components, the unitive and procreative; IVF separates these components and makes the procreative its only goal. Pope Paul VI said that there is an “inseparable connection, willed by God, and unable to be broken by man on his own initiative, between the two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning.”

There are other issues involved. IVF makes the child a commodity produced in a laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians, and even business people part of the conception process. The sperm used is usually obtained by masturbation, which the Church teaches is immoral. The sperm or eggs used may not come from the couple desiring the child; because one of the spouses may be infertile, it may be necessary to use the sperm or eggs from an outsider. Most of the embryos conceived—which the Church holds should be respected new human lives—die, are frozen indefinitely for later implantation, are used for research, or are discarded. Children conceived through IVF also have a greater incidence of birth defects."

It's a fairly clear stance.

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:30:52

Reproductive Technologies in Disagreement with Catholic Teachings:

Obtaining a semen sample by means of masturbation
Artificial insemination using sperm from a donor (AID) or even the husband (AIH) if obtained by masturbation
In-vitro fertilization (IVF), zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), ovum donation, "surrogate" uterus

Farahilda Wed 06-Apr-16 13:36:25

Paul VI died in 1978. Have any subsequent Popes spoken on this?

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 13:42:01

Pearlylum is right.
I don't think sample collection is necessarily a problem, as it can be done as a couple and it is intended for procreation anyway, so not "wasted". As sins go, it's on a level with common recurrent sins most of us are guilty of.

The main problem will be the wasted embryos. It might be possible to generate just the necessary for each implantation, but it would be much more expensive. At this time it's possible to freeze sperm and eggs, which limits the problem with frozen embryos, though.

Ultimately, though, Raisin, you shouldn't feel at any time that you can't attend Mass. I'd talk to your priest about communion, if you go down the route of having extra embryos that you don't intend to have implanted.
But Mass is for everyone.

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:42:15

Latest I can find:

CWR Archive:

Church teaching on in vitro fertilization
November 29, 2012
Jim Graves
Pope Benedict XVI, speaking to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life earlier this year, addressed the issue of married couples struggling with infertility. He said, “The Church pays great attention to the suffering of couples with infertility, she cares for them and, precisely because of this, encourages medical research.”

But he warned against “the lure of the technology of artificial insemination,” which is not permitted by Catholic teaching. The Pope said to couples unable to conceive: “[Your] vocation to marriage is no less because of this. Spouses, for their own baptismal and marriage vocation, are called to cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation to the gift of self and this is a possibility that no organic condition can prevent. There, where science has not yet found an answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ.”

dontcryforme Wed 06-Apr-16 13:43:46

I don't know what the official Catholic stance on assisted reproduction (of which IVF is just one type) is, but.... it IS possible to do IVF in such a way that limits the number of eggs produced / retrieved for fertilisation to that there are no embryos 'wasted' and / or extras can be frozen in small numbers for future use - siblings etc. Encouraging excess numbers of eggs is dangerous for the woman but understandable in a way where egg sharing is used (clearly the Catholic church is against this) and / or where treatment is so costly and physically intensive - bang for your buck! There is also a masturbation-free method of sperm retrival, either via a special collection condon thing worn for intercourse and then taken asap afterwards to the clinic (as also used by Orthodox Jews needing IVF!) OR surgical removal of sperm (TESE / TESA) though the latter is normally only used in cases where the male has azoospermia (testicular failure).

I'm so glad that I'm a reformed, liberal, progressive Protestant!

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 13:44:43

The Catholic Church hasn't changed policy on abortion, so IVF that implicates embryo destruction is definitely not ok.

dontcryforme Wed 06-Apr-16 13:45:25

What's the Catholic stance on adoption I wonder? Cos that's what is almost always (helpfully - {angry}) suggested to those unable to conceive naturally as the 'obvious' solution to their plight.

Cottonflossy Wed 06-Apr-16 13:46:30

One of the reasons I stopped going to church was the catholic stance on Ivf. My children bring me more joy and compassion than my faith ever did so it's the right choice for me.

What about eggs that don't fertilise or embryos that fail to develop?

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 13:46:58

Why should there be a problem with adoption?

Annarose2014 Wed 06-Apr-16 13:47:14

Being a modern Catholic is all about cherry picking! Same as being a modern Muslim etc.

I know several priests and there's no way they'd personally have an anti IVF stance. With regards to contraception they will tell you the churches position on it only when asked and then essentially leave it up to you.

I hate when people think we're all brainwashed robots......hmm

dontcryforme Wed 06-Apr-16 13:47:49

Lweji - you said ' It might be possible to generate just the necessary for each implantation, but it would be much more expensive'

Why more expensive? I've never known this be true.

kavvLar Wed 06-Apr-16 13:48:21

I have had two beautiful daughters with my husband, using IUI and donor sperm. I had not even given it a second's thought in relation to the church. How odd. I'm Catholic and while I understand the need for guidance rules and doctrines, we were meant to have these girls. If God hadn't meant us to have them then he wouldn't have sent us the means to have them and I wouldn't have conceived them.

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:49:44

"The cases of homologous in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination which involve the genetic material of husband and wife united in marriage may at first glance seem compassionate in helping a couple conceive their own child. Returning to the basic truth principles, problems are inherent in the techniques. Homologous in vitro fertilization bypasses the natural expression of marital love and conception takes place outside of the mother. Generally, the technique proceeds as follows: Sperm is gathered through an act of masturbation; several ova are gathered through laparoscopy. The conception that occurs– whether from fertilization in a petri dish or test tube is not the fruit of the natural marriage act ordered to procreation. Keep in mind that several ova are fertilized (usually 8 to 10), but each one is a unique individual, a new human being. After being cultured about 40 hours, the embryos are transferred, one at a time, to the uterine cavity, where hopefully implantation will occur. Recent statistics indicate that pregnancy results 24.1% of the time with a delivery rate of 16.8% of the time. However, what happens to the remaining conceived ova in the petri dish? These ova are frozen or destroyed, and yet we consider them human beings with a right to life. The Church expresses legitimate fear: “Homologous IVF [in vitro fertilization] and ET [embryo transfer] is brought about outside the bodies of the couple through actions of third parties whose competence and technical activity determine the success of the procedure. Such fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children” (Donum vitae, #II,6)."

dontcryforme Wed 06-Apr-16 13:50:03

Lweji re: adoption, I asked because wondered how it fitted with what another posted quoted the Pope as saying, below:

“[Your] vocation to marriage is no less because of this. Spouses, for their own baptismal and marriage vocation, are called to cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation to the gift of self and this is a possibility that no organic condition can prevent. There, where science has not yet found an answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ.”

Luckystar1 Wed 06-Apr-16 13:51:10

OP, I too am Catholic. Thankfully, as yet, we have not encountered fertility issues so I cannot expressly speak from that view.

However, if I were in your shoes I would have ABSOLUTELY no issue whatsoever preceding with IVF. The churches teachings should GUIDE us, not DICTATE to us. (Yes I know that's not everyone's interpretation but we must surely be slightly more open minded as a modern society).

Very best of luck with your decision and (I hope) your treatment.

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 13:51:22

Now that eggs can be frozen is less of a problem, but if you had to do different collections to fertilise only a small number of eggs it adds up to professionals' time and thus expense. Even of you have to keep retrieving eggs and sperm to fertilise, it also increases the time spent on the whole thing and thus cost.

pearlylum Wed 06-Apr-16 13:52:38

"Being a modern Catholic is all about cherry picking! Same as being a modern Muslim etc. "

So you don't really have to believe in god, or the resurrection, or the bits of the bible you don't like... seems an awfully inclusive religion.

So we are all Catholics really. Even the Muslims.

Lweji Wed 06-Apr-16 13:52:53

Are you saying that passage doesn't agree with adoption?

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