Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The IVF Contradiction

Phil sent me this article to read, and it nearly broke my heart.  A couple weeks later I received this article from our dear friend, Fr. Dave, and can't stop thinking about it since. 

These two articles discuss the terrible ramifications of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). 

Sometimes things seem so clear to me, so very black and white, yet others see shades of gray.  I know we all view the world differently depending on how we were raised and where our life finds us now.  I am lucky to have been raised by loving parents with strict Catholic beliefs.  I am lucky to have married someone who was raised the same way.  And we are lucky that we are able to conceive and bear beautiful and healthy children over and over and over ;)

So perhaps I need to walk around in someone's infertile shoes in order to feel the desperation of wanting a baby so bad that you would do anything to get it, including IVF.  I truly feel so sad for anyone struggling with infertility.  That is a HUGE cross to carry, and one I would probably crumble beneath. 

What seems so contradictory to me though, is that a woman who is willing to go through all the time and pain and expense of using IVF in order to have a baby, could then turn around and abort that same baby

What's that?  It's not called abortion?  It's called selective reduction.  Oh I see.  It's abortion if you completely get rid of a pregnancy, but if you just choose to kill selectively reduce some of the babies in the pregnancy, then it gets a different term.  Same evil, new words. 

Let's look at this scenario: Phil and I want to buy a house.  Only we can't afford to buy one on our own.  So we decide to enter into every single contest and lottery we can find that promises a chance to win a dream home.  After years and years of trying, we finally win a contest!  We get the home we always wanted!! 

Only there's more news...we also win another contest at the same time.  Now we have two dream homes!  What lucky people we are with two beautiful new houses of our own.  But wait...we don't need two houses.  What are we going to do with two houses?  Two houses means more expenses and headaches.  In fact, the expenses might be just too much that we would lose both houses.  So we decide even though we have been double blessed in getting what we had been trying for, we are going to just burn one of the houses down.  That should solve all our problems. 

What's that you say?  We don't need to destroy the second house just because we did not intend on winning it?  We could give the house to someone who's been waiting for their own dream home?  What a great idea!  It will be a little more work for us to figure out the financial end of things and do the required paperwork, but in order to spare the house and help another family "win" too, we decide to do it. 

How easy it is to see the craziness in the situation when it applies to an inanimate object like a house, yet throw a mother and her unborn baby(ies) into the mix and things seem to get a bit more confusing.  But should they really?  When you hope and pray and try for a baby, and then you get one or more babies, shouldn't you just count your blessings or pay it forward?

I would gladly take as many babies as I can from these "selective reductions" if it means that a couple would choose to save their lives.  I understand the difficulties that come with having many children, but I could never look at my five cherubs and wish I hadn't kept some of them.  And I would love to tell women who are contemplating IVF to please remember the power of prayer and the importance of patience, because God does always hear our pleas, but He's a little funny in how He responds sometimes. 

Sometimes He works miracles:

Yet other times He uses our earthly sufferings for our eternal salvation, and we can't pick and choose the crosses we are dealt.  But we can carry them with grace.


  1. having gone through infertility, I totally get why women due IVF. I know we wouldn't have done it, had it come down to that. But, I also know it would be so, so hard to say "no" when I knew that it would almost positively give us the child we so longed for. But, you're right, why in the world would you kill a child you've so longed for? I feel like it's just another way that shows that IVF is not the way that God intends to grow families. It's very, very rare for a women to naturally get pregnant with 3 babies, let alone any more... And I'm pretty certain there's a reason why God made it that way, you know?

  2. I was watching a show on the miracle of life the other day, it was a secular science based presentation. The "best way to show/film the beginning of life" was to follow the deveopment of "dish of fertilized eggs". It was heart wrenching to watch and then the mom said she only wanted two imlanted, the doctor reminded her that she might then have two babies or zero babies. She pausedand after a few minutes asked if they could give her a third. The doctor turned and said ok, "let me put your order in." One of the kids asked she wanted fries on the side.

    I don't understand inferiity but what we have come to as a society breaks my heart. I want many things too. That doesn't mean God sends all desires to me.

  3. We totally live in a crazy world right now. Gosh...I would love to just be dealing with IVF issues in my family. I have 2 cousins currently not not want to get married...and are trying to get pregnant with some dudes sperm. NOW THAT is crazy.

    Children are a gift...not a right.

  4. Although we certainly live in a crazy world, I have found we have to be REALLY careful about how we choose to talk about IVF. More and more children are being conceived this way. They are in our Sacrament programs, our youth groups, etc...There are some teachings of the Church that I REALLY feel have to be so completely sheltered in love in order to get the message across- this is one of those teachings. Using the word evil when discussing IVF might seem like an appropriate thing to do, however, we have to be so careful...because children are always a blessing and often people cannot separate the 'evil' act from the beauty of the child. It will be fascinating to watch this discussion continue, especially considering the rise of infertility (which coincides with the rise of artificial birth control...hmmmm....). But we, as the faithful who love the church most know, now more than ever, the importance of LOVE first...that was Jesus' method, we are blessed to follow His lead.

  5. letlovebesincere - I agree that we need to approach the children created through IVF with much love! When I used the word "evil" it was in reference to the act of selective reduction, which is in fact an evil deed. Jesus did use a method of love, as you say, but He also preached the truth and didn't waver. I hope the tone of my post shows the love and sadness I feel for women who are infertile, but also the passion I have for spreading the truth :)

  6. Phil wants me to point out that those articles really deserve a good read. Thanks!

  7. I wasn't necessarily implying that you were wrong in your post, in fact, the selective reduction is horrifying. And can only be described as evil. I have just watched a lot of faithful Catholics talk about this issue with a lot of carelessness, considering children are involved. Truth and love are, of course, never in contradiction- but I have found, though studying the Church/Bible, etc...that LOVE is always the method that allows people to hear truth. They go hand in and and cannot stand alone (of course, if we claim to 'love' but lack truth- we fail), but in practice of evangelization, it is always love that motivates the seeking of truth.

  8. Colleen,
    Thank you for posting those articles. Thank you also for having the courage to call evil, evil. IVF is an evil practice. Abortion is an evil practice. Murder is an evil practice. As Christians with properly formed consciousness, we understand that there is a world of difference in calling an action evil and calling a person evil.
    As you pointed out, you have no idea the weight of the cross people struggling with infertility have to carry. Neither do I. Like you, I suspect I would crumble beneath the weight. You have written about this subject with compassion, calling the practice of IVF evil, while empathizing with the people who practice it, and rejoicing in the blessing of the children who are born from it.

    Thank you, again, for posting this.

  9. Amen!

    I've had a fussy baby today and had this on my computer waiting all day for me to respond!!!

    The thing that gets me and makes me sad, is that now that we have this society of IVF kids that are turning into adults, how will they come to terms that it's wrong, the way they were conceived? Sin made to seem like it's not a sin.

    Grace, that's how, I guess...

    Pray pray pray, we must pray.

    Children are a gift, not a right, that's what our priest says. He's right. We don't go and make our own gift, we wait and receive.

    I have been infertile (the first almost 3 years of our marriage) and it is a desperate feeling, but, it brought me to my knees many many times.

    If the pride is there of making your own baby (without God) then, is there room for grace?

  10. I'm reading backwards, but enjoyed this post even more than today's. So heart breaking and true...

  11. After my 2nd baby died I was very desperate and reasoned that for someone like me married and having gone thro loss that it would be ok in this case. But my husband refused. I thought he was being mean to me. I sought priests and all said any method of ivf is EVIL. I needed to be told the truth not lies. I was still mad but agreed to just accept the teachings of the church. Years later I can see how stupid I was but when you are in the moment things do become grey. I exPerienced a full year of infertility that was unexplained. I met many women through loss groups that did go through ivf tho. They were my friends then and yes some of them got ivf and some selectively reduced based On number or sex if they were carrying a gene that affected only boys per say and could lead to another loss. I did think it wrong but I did not tell them it was wrong. In all respects they were having abortions despite wanting babies. Anyway thankfully I did wait it out and in the end did not choose ivf. Here I am years later with 6 subsequent babies when I was told I wasn't going tO have any more. Btw in terms of the ivf children I have read articles where even they dislike how they were created and how it creates a multitude of problems in their life.

  12. Agreed! My heart aches for those couples unable to conceive. Having easily conceived and birthed five children, I cannot judge the lengths that others will go to, to bear children. However, the evils that go along with it are too much for us to remain silent. :(


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