Document on Problems With In-Vitro Fertilization Gets Catholic Bishops Okay

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Document on Problems With In-Vitro Fertilization Gets Catholic Bishops Okay

by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 20
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops approved a 15-page document on reproductive technologies this week called Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology. The new paper says pro-life Catholics need to be mindful of the ethical problems associated with technologies like in-vitro fertilization.

The document says the Catholic Church shares the pain of couples who have problems bearing children because of infertility, genetics or other issues.

However, it warns that some reproductive technologies, which also include human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, “are not morally legitimate ways to solve those problems" because the violate the human dignity of unborn children.

"Children have a right to be conceived by the act that expresses and embodies their parents’ self-giving love; morally responsible medicine can assist this act but should never substitute for it," the new document reads.

Instead, parents who face birthing issues need to remember the "full human dignity of the child."

The document stresses that abuses under IVF are a "natural outgrowth of the original decision to turn the begetting of a child into a manufacturing process."

"In this situation a new life may be highly valued-as a way of meeting parents’ goals for family size, or of achieving other goals such as scientific knowledge-but this human life is not respected as human persons deserve to be respected," the new document says.

With embryonic stem cell research, one problem is that the freezing of human embryos yields a "terrible temptation for researchers to find a ‘use’ for these human beings no longer wanted by their parents."

"Broader abuse is in the realm of science fiction at this point, although many scientists say it is possible and even should be welcomed: a ‘brave new world’ in which human beings are tailored for genetic perfection, developed outside their mothers’ bodies, and pre-selected for given roles in society," the bishops write. "This would be the ultimate step toward a very efficient society in which the idea of human dignity may seem obsolete."

"Children are not parents’ possessions to manufacture, manipulate, or design; rather, they are fellow persons with full human dignity, and parents are called to accept, care for, and raise them to be new members of God’s family and his Kingdom," they continue.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, the outgoing chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the new document would “fill a true pastoral need” for Catholics seeking a better understanding of “the difference between the Catholic understanding and the secular understanding of human life.”

The Catholic bishops adopted Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology Tuesday by a vote of 220-4, with three abstentions.

Related web sites:
Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology –

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