Is IVF a sin?

Thinking of using IVF? How many children are you willing to murder?

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and similar procedures used in artificial reproductive technology (ART) involve multiple grave sins, including multiple direct killings of human embryos. The number of grave sins committed in order to achieve one live birth of a child by artificial procreation is staggering. The number of literal murders of prenatal children committed in the whole process of In-Vitro Fertilization is horrifying. There is a special place in Hell for Catholic couples who choose to commit this long string of wicked acts, killing many of their own prenatal children, for the mere possibility of obtaining one live birth of one child.

Here is how IVF works.

An ovum is obtained from the mother, usually by inducing ovulation with a series of hormone shots. And sperm is obtained from the father, usually by the grave sin of masturbation.

Then these gametes from the couple are combined in a petri dish (‘in vitro’, meaning ‘in glass’), forming a living human embryo. This type of conception in the lab is called artificial procreation. It is indisputable that, in the teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium, artificial procreation is a intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.

But fertility clinics do not create only one embryo; they create many embryos. Some are selected for implantation; some are selected to be frozen, for possible future implantation. And the rest are destroyed. This deliberate direct destruction of living human embryos is the grave sin of murder; it is a type of abortion.

How many embryos are murdered at this point in the process of IVF is uncertain. Fertility clinics in the U.S. are required to report certain information to the CDC (for the CDC’s yearly ART report). But the number of embryos created and then destroyed is not reported, and probably no record is kept. In all likelihood, at least several human embryos are destroyed at this point. Morally, this is literally the commission of multiple murders. It is comparable to a woman who is pregnant with quintuplets (or more), and who decides to abort all of them, all at once. Yes, verily, a special place in Hell.

Next, some embryos are transferred to the womb of their mother. Typically, two or three embryos are transferred because most transferred embryos do not survive. This choice, to undertake the procedures involved in IVF, knowing that in all likelihood most of the embryos transferred to the womb will die is also a grave sin. Is this type of act the sin of murder? Well, it is more like the sin of putting your children in harm’s way, knowing that most of them will die as a result. The parents are authorizing the fertility clinic to create multiple embryos for implantation, knowing that most will die. Oh, wait, that is a type of murder.

The freezing of human embryos is also a grave sin, because we can reasonably anticipate that the vast majority of frozen embryos will not be brought to birth, but will die in the freezer, or after being thawed. Again, putting any human person in a situation, without any grave necessity, which can be reasonably anticipated to have a very high likelihood of death, is a type of murder.

As for the minority of created embryos that are given a chance for life, a large percentage of embryos transferred to the womb do not successfully implant. And of those that do implant, forming a placenta, a large percentage do not survive to birth. So their chance for life is small.

“the percentage of live births (at least one live infant born) for each transfer (embryos transferred to the womb) ranges from 20.0% to 27.4% for frozen embryos from non-donor eggs for women 40 years of age or less (the percentages are worse for women over 40). But this does not take into account the fact that the number of embryos transferred averages 2 or more. So in the best case of 27.4% live births for women under 35, the 72.6% without a live birth represents 2 or more deaths, and the 27.4% may include one or more deaths (since a live birth may be only one child, even though more than one embryo was transferred).” (Conte, The Catechism of Catholic Ethics, n. 296.)

At this point in our consideration of IVF, the series of grave sins includes masturbation, multiple sins of artificial procreation, the killing of multiple human embryos in vitro, the deliberate choice to place multiple human embryos in a situation in which most will die (embryo transfer, freezing). But it gets worse.

Some of the frozen embryos are selected for quality assurance. These embryos are thawed, the percentage that thaw successfully is noted, the viability of the embryos that survive thawing is noted, and then any surviving embryos are destroyed. This is done so that the clinic can keep track of the quality of its freezing and thawing procedures. It is the systematic murder of innocent prenatal human persons, for the sake of quality assurance. A more flimsy excuse for murder is unknown in human history.

How many frozen human embryos are there in the world today? I conservatively estimate that there are over one million frozen human embryos worldwide. If we were to attempt to bring any 100 frozen embryos through prenatal development, to a live birth, how many would survive the process? Using very optimistic assumptions and numbers, about 11%. Using more likely scenarios, perhaps 5% or less. This implies that the vast majority of the one million frozen embryos in the world will die. They will die in the freezer. Or they will die in the process of thawing; about 35% or more do not survive the thawing process. Or they will die in the attempt to implant them; most ’embryos transfers’ (to the womb) do not successfully implant. Or they will die during the pregnancy.

What fresh crime against humanity is this? To freeze human beings, by the hundreds of thousands, in their earliest and most vulnerable stages, and then to leave them frozen until they die. To create human beings in a petri dish, select a few and destroy the rest. To artificially create and implant human beings in the womb, knowing that the vast majority will not survive to birth. And then, too, if more than one implanted embryos survives, they selectively ‘cull’ one or more, in other words, they directly abort one or more of the prenatals, because the parents only ordered one artificially procreated child, not two or three. So the rest are murdered in the womb.

Most of the time, this entire process fails to produce even one live birth. And so the process begins again, with the same series of grave sin after grave sin, one grave crime against humanity after another. Eventually, as this process is repeated again and again, the couple may succeed in their goal of obtaining a live birth. But along the way, they will have participated in the murder of as many as 10 or 20 of their own artificially procreated children. And they will also probably have at least several more children in the freezer. More often than not, no attempt at all is made to bring these frozen embryos through prenatal development to a live birth. So those frozen embryos are merely waiting to die, as their younger brothers and sisters died before them.

I am certain that all of these very young human persons, who die as a result of the exceedingly wicked practices of artificial reproductive technology and in-vitro fertilization, will be looked upon by God with great mercy, and will be given nothing less than eternal life in Heaven. Some commentators claim that these innocent victims of horrific sins are denied eternal life with God; such persons have become co-conspirators with the perpetrators of these crimes. The one group kills the bodies of the innocent, and the other group purports to deny their souls eternal life.

{11:47} Woe to you, who build the tombs of the prophets, while it is your fathers who killed them!
{11:48} Clearly, you are testifying that you consent to the actions of your fathers, because even though they killed them, you build their sepulchers.

As for the parents of these modern-day holy innocents, these parents commit many grave sins against their own children, so that they might have one live birth. But as a result of these many grave sins, they might not be with any of their children in Heaven. For they committed a long series of grave crimes against humanity and against God by means of artificial procreation and this new type of abortion associated with it.

[Matthew 18]
{18:1} In that hour, the disciples drew near to Jesus, saying, “Whom do you consider to be greater in the kingdom of heaven?”
{18:2} And Jesus, calling to himself a little child, placed him in their midst.
{18:3} And he said: “Amen I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{18:4} Therefore, whoever will have humbled himself like this little child, such a one is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
{18:5} And whoever shall accept one such little child in my name, accepts me.
{18:6} But whoever will have led astray one of these little ones, who trust in me, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be submerged in the depths of the sea.

I would rather be the bad thief on the cross next to Christ, who died while ridiculing the Author of Salvation, than someone who commits the extremely wicked series of acts associated with In-Vitro Fertilization. The bad thief’s sufferings in Hell are not nearly as bad as their torments in Hell will be. For God is Just.

One more thing. Since this type of artificial reproductive technology involves the direct killing of innocent prenatals, it is the grave sin of direct abortion, which carries the penalty of automatic excommunication for all Catholics directly involved, including both spouses and any fertility clinic staff.

“The Church’s canonical discipline, from the earliest centuries, has inflicted penal sanctions on those guilty of abortion. This practice, with more or less severe penalties, has been confirmed in various periods of history. The 1917 Code of Canon Law punished abortion with excommunication. The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that ‘a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication’. The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed.” (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, n. 62)

If you are a Catholic couple considering IVF, you are considering leaving the Catholic Church by means of abortion and automatic excommunication. You are considering artificially creating and then murdering many of your own children. Do you think you will be rewarded for these sins against God and against humanity with a beautiful new baby? Unless you repent, you will be punished by God with the worst torments in the deepest parts of Hell, where you belong.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator

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