Artificial Reproductive Technologies and Catholic Moral Teaching

What is Artificial Reproductive Technology?

Artificial Reproductive Technology is an umbrella term used to describe different technologies that either create (outside of the womb) or assist, by intervening in the natural process of conception,  in the reproduction of a new life.  Artificial Technology Includes:

  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
  • Intrauterine Insemenation (IUI)
  • Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
  •  Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
  •  Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
  • Donor Eggs
  • Donor Sperm
  • Surrogacy

What Does the Catholic Church teach about Artifical Reproductive Technologies?

"It is quite legitimate, indeed praiseworthy, to try to find ways to overcome infertility. The problem causes great pain and anguish for many married couples. Since children are a wonderful gift of marriage, it is a good thing to try to overcome the obstacles which prevent children from being conceived and born."

"In our day many techniques and therapies have been developed to overcome infertility. In the United States an entire 'industry' has emerged with little or no governmental or professional regulations to protect the interests of the men, women or children who become involved. Women receive fertility drugs which can result in their conceiving four, five or six children at once, risking their own health and the health of their children. Some have several eggs fertilized in vitro (in a glass dish) without realizing that this may lead to the destruction of these embryos or their being frozen for later experimental use.

The many techniques now used to overcome infertility also have profound moral implications, and couples should be aware of these before making decisions about their use. Each technique should be assessed to see if it is truly moral, that is, whether or not it promotes human good and human flourishing. All these technologies touch in some way on innocent human life."

"In 1987 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document known as Donum Vitae ("The Gift of Life"), which addressed the morality of many modern fertility procedures. The document did not judge the use of technology to overcome infertility as wrong in itself. It concluded that some methods are moral, while others—because they do violence to the dignity of the human person and the institution of marriage—are immoral. Donum Vitae reaffirmed an obligation to protect all human life when married couples use various technologies to try to have children. Without questioning the motives of those using these techniques, Donum Vitae pointed out that people can do harm to themselves and others even as they try to do what is good, that is, overcome infertility. The fundamental principle which the Church used to assess the morality of various means of overcoming infertility was a rather simple one, even if its application is sometimes difficult.

Donum Vitae teaches that if a given medical intervention helps or assists the marriage act to achieve pregnancy, it may be considered moral; if the intervention replaces the marriage act in order to engender life, it is not moral." - USCCB Website

How do I know if the method we are considering is immoral? 

As stated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) above, "if the intervention replaces the marriage act in order to engender life, it is not moral."  IVF, IUI, Surrogacy, etc... bypass the natural act of intercourse in order to create life and are not considered moral.  If the method you are considering bypasses the natural act of intercourse, then it is not moral.  

f you have specific questions about this, then we are happy to help you.  Please contact Jenny Ingles by email or phone. 

Does the Catholic Church approve any method of infertility management?

Yes!  The Catholic Church does approve NaProTECHNOLOGY. NaProTECHNOLOGY assists the couple in conceiving a child by cooperating with the natural act of intercourse.

Why Does the Catholic Church teach that IVF is wrong?

See video below for a thorough explanation.