Is a Catholic who procures in vitro fertilization (IVF) automatically excommunicated? Yes, if he or she knows that the Church issues a sentence of automatic excommunication for the procurement of a direct abortion, and realizes that IVF, as it is practiced by fertility clinics, always includes the direct destruction of multiple conceived prenatals.
The penalty of automatic excommunication applies to anyone who deliberately chooses and accomplishes a direct abortion, with knowledge of the penalty attached.
Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.
This penalty applies to any direct abortion, accomplished in any manner, at any time from the moment of conception. It is not limited solely to surgical abortions.
Pope John Paul II: “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. By this reiterated sanction, the Church makes clear that abortion is a most serious and dangerous crime, thereby encouraging those who commit it to seek without delay the path of conversion. In the Church the purpose of the penalty of excommunication is to make an individual fully aware of the gravity of a certain sin and then to foster genuine conversion and repentance.” (Evangelium Vitae, n. 62.)
So if a Catholic uses an abortifacient drug to procure a direct abortion (e.g. the morning after pill, or the like), the sentence of automatic excommunication applies, just as if the person had gone to an abortion clinic for a surgical abortion. The same applies to Catholic women who use the IUD (intra-uterine device). The IUD is an abortifacient device, and its use, while sexually active, constitutes the procurement of direct abortion.
The Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has noted that IVF (in vitro fertilization) and ET (embryo transfer) involve the direct destruction of innocent unborn human life, and therefore the sin of abortion:
“It has already been recalled that, in the circumstances in which it is regularly practiced, IVF and ET involves the destruction of human beings, which is something contrary to the doctrine on the illicitness of abortion previously mentioned.” [Donum Vitae]
The same document also uses the term “procured abortion” to refer to this type of direct destruction of human embryos. Therefore, when a woman or a couple authorize IVF, they are, in fact, authorizing a type of procured direct abortion. And this grave sin carries with it the penalty, under Canon Law, of automatic excommunication.
Moreover, those accomplices without whose help this crime against humanity would not have been committed are also automatically excommunicated. Certainly, such accomplices would include all physicians and essential staff working at the IVF clinic. Therefore, no Catholic may work for the type of fertility clinic that offers IVF or any similar procedure.