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The Problem with IVF & Getting Pregnant

downloadQuestion

My husband and I struggled unsuccessfully to get pregnant.  I fervently prayed, begging God to give me a child. We decided to do IVF.  The first embryo transfer failed but it succeeded on the second try and now I am thirty-three weeks pregnant.  We were thinking of naming our child Giovanni (God has shown a favor). However, a friend’s mother-in-law dreamed that God wants me to give the name Samuel to our boy.  When I suggested making Samuel his middle name, the lady said no.  Am I disobeying God if I give Giovanni as a first name and Samuel as the middle name?

Response

If God were going to directly name your child, then either you or your husband would have had the dream— not the mother-in-law of a friend. She is deluded and I would pay her no mine. Name the child whatever you please. New Testament names, particularly saints in the liturgical calendar, usually take precedence over the Old Testament when it comes to Christians. Giovanni is the Italian version of St. John. That signifies a great patron saint.

St. John gives us a wonderful prologue in his Gospel from which we derive much of our theology about the identity of Christ and the meaning of the unity in the Trinity. The Word became flesh. God sent his only son into the world to redeem us. The Gospels of Luke and John speak in a powerful way about the meaning of the incarnation and the sanctity of human life, from the womb to the tomb. It may be fortuitous because of the manner by which your child was conceived. You may not be aware, but the Catholic faith forbids in vitro fertilization. While the Church permits various treatments against infertility, IVF violates a number of important Christian values. Read the universal catechism (CCC 2373-2379).

(1) The Church is very sensitive to the suffering of couples who want families but are struggling with infertility. The one reason most often promoted for opposition to IVF intervention has to do with the status of the embryos. Each and every conceived embryo has an immortal soul and is a human being. It is immoral to freeze and store them (most do not survive the process) and once an embryo is successfully embedded in the womb, remaining embryos are frequently destroyed. This is condemned for the same reasons that the Church opposes abortion.

(2) Should there be infertility, the Christian vocation of marriage is morally no less a covenant or blessed by God than those with children. Every child is a gift. Parents are entrusted with children but they are not property. No one can deserve or demand a child. IVF wrongly reduces the child to a commodity produced by laboratory technicians for a profit.

(3) There is also an issue with the acquisition of the sperm for IVF and artificial insemination. It is usually collected through masturbation which is an immoral act.

(4) Compounding the moral issues inherent in this approach is that eggs and sperm might come from outside sources. This adds the sin of adultery to the equation.

(5) Spouses are called to live out their baptismal vocation and that of marriage, their calling within a calling. Couples should cooperate with God in the creation of new human persons. They must always accept providence, both in an unexpected conception and when none takes place. Every child should be conceived in a loving and human way— the marital act. IVF and artificial insemination imply the intervention of a third party. This violates the immediacy of the couple in normative vaginal intercourse. We are talking about more than a physical or mechanical act. The marital act is a loving self-donation (as gift) of the spouses to each other. Every child should be conceived within this act of love and not in a test tube. A child has the natural right to be conceived in the marital embrace of his or her parents. IVF wrongly separates the unitive from the procreative element of human sexuality.

What is done is done. Children are innocent even when parents and others are at fault in how they were conceived. Go to Confession. Raise your child in the faith. Love each other.

 

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