Catholic Church Not Unsympathetic to Infertile Couples

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Mar 1, 2012   |   3:58PM   |   Washington, DC

The Catholic Church is often portrayed as unsympathetic to infertile couples.  Because the Church finds IVF wrong, others mistakenly believe that the Church has no compassion for the pain and heartbreak of infertility.  That is simply untrue.  In fact, recently the Pope called for more research into the causes of infertility so that life could be created where it is supposed to be created, in a mother’s womb and not in a lab.

The Church wants the best not just for the children, but for the infertile couples as well.  The reality of IVF is that more embryos are made than can be transferred into the mother at one time.  The “left-overs” are frozen waiting for a time they can finish their lives.  The Church realizes that life happens and sometimes couples cannot (or will not) gestate their frozen offspring.  This leaves some in a different kind of heartbreaking situation: what to do with their children on ice?

A reader at The Practicing Catholic has courageously told her IVF story.  It is an important read for all.  IVF was successful at giving this couple the children they so desperately wanted, but it has also put them in an untenable situation.  The reader discusses her and her husband’s struggle with infertility:

Instead of turning to God to understand why, we turned to doctors and science and began working on how to fix it. We were lost and didn’t have the foundation of the Church’s teaching to help guide us.  Our primary fault was to understand that a child is a GIFT from God, not a right. We were focused on our desires, not God’s will….

After limited thought we decided to undergo the in vitro fertilization (IVF) process after doctors advised us it was the only way to conceive. Again, we just looked at the science of having children. We didn’t seek to understand the Church’s teaching on IVF, or more importantly, what consequences could develop once initiated….

The process took another turn when, following the delivery of our babies, I needed an emergency hysterectomy. This was much more significant than my husband or I could ever imagine.

During the IVF process more than two embryos were created. The hysterectomy removed my uterus, and with no uterus, there is no place for our other children to go to be carried to term. I can’t carry them, and surrogacy is not an option in the Catholic Church. With this outcome, we now have several embryos frozen in a lab with basically nowhere to go….

We pray for them everyday, but we feel helpless as parents.

One heartache traded for another.  Please pray for this family.  I cannot imagine the difficult decisions that they are going to have to face.  Also thank them for sharing their story.  Their courage will hopefully be a guiding light for others.