A Christian’s Questions and Answers about IVF

Christian Life Resources

QUESTION: Does in vitro fertilization ALWAYS result in discarding (aborting) some embryos? Is this something a couple who had used this process would be aware of?

ANSWER: No, the process doesn’t always result in embryos being discarded — although, often, a doctor will transfer embryos to the woman’s uterus with the hope that at least one will implant. There are situations in which multiple embryos will survive and grow. At that point the couple will have to decide whether to abort or carry multiple children.

Many times the additional spare eggs are frozen, to be kept for use at a later date in the event the first implantation attempt doesn’t work. It is a costly procedure for a couple to have artificial fertilization. That’s why many couples choose to have extra embryos fertilized.

Generally several embryos are frozen and placed in “storage” after a successful pregnancy has taken place.

What a couple has to deal with is what to do with the remaining embryos. There are countless stories of abandoned embryos left in storage. There are many ethical questions regarding the legal rights of parents over them. Can they be willed to a child, given to a friend, etc. But, the fact remains that a child is conceived and is waiting to be born.

QUESTION: If no embryos are discarded or frozen, what ethical concerns about IVF still confront the Christian?

ANSWER: The most obvious concern is the low success rate for in-vitro fertilization. While there is a great variety in the way IVF clinics cite statistical success, the general rule is that up to 40 percent of women who go into IVF centers do not get to the point of embryo transfer because they fail to respond to medication. There is an approximate 20 percent success rate for IVF based on embryo transfer. In general, of those who enter IVF programs, success rate is 8 percent.

Failure to bear a child takes an emotional toll on many couples. Even with a successful embryo transfer into the womb, the odds of that new unborn child dying (four out of five) are just too great for Christians to proceed.

QUESTION: If I have undergone a successful or unsuccessful IVF procedure, was I wrong?

ANSWER: Perhaps yes, and perhaps not. Statistics indicate averages. Some fare much better than others. Statistics, however, provide us insight as to how risky a procedure can be for the mother and child. There is the possibility (a 20 percent chance) that your first IVF attempt is successful. That fact must be contrasted with the reality that most people would be critical of someone who risks the death of any child (born or unborn) when the odds are four out of five of the time the child will die.



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