We can only imagine the struggles you might be facing as you try to conceive a child. Infertility is a reality for many and can be unimaginably painful. We need God’s grace to help us walk through such pain. In addition, we need God’s truth to help us navigate the possible road ahead. It’s true that modern technology has increased the number of reproductive technologies available to us, but we shouldn’t use them indiscriminately. As Christians, we need to think very carefully about the moral implications of these technologies, and there are several significant moral factors to take into account if you are seriously considering in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In IVF, a woman is given fertility drugs that enable her to produce more eggs than normal in a given cycle. The eggs are extracted from her body and fertilized by the man’s sperm in a test tube or Petri dish, thereby producing embryos. Those embryos are then transferred into the womans uterus.
First, you need to realize that IVF may produce additional embryos that will not be transferred to the woman. When you put sperm and egg together in a Petri dish, no one knows just how many embryos will actually be produced. Standard IVF practices call for the fertilization of all the eggs produced. Typically, they are transferred more than one at a time, and then leftover embryos are either disposed of or stored indefinitely.
The first option, disposing of the embryos, is the moral equivalent of taking the life of an innocent human being. The embryo is a living, distinct, human organism in the embryonic stage. Those three characteristics of the embryo demonstrate that it is a member of the human family. Thus, the embryo is valuable because of the kind of thing it is, namely an innocent human being. Certainly the embryo undergoes developmental changes after conception, but it experiences no substantial change or change in nature. The human embryo grows into a human fetus, which grows into a human infant, and so forth. Through each stage of development, it remains a valuable member of the human family. Therefore, the embryo is not a potential human, but a human with great potential, and disposing of it is not an option open to us.