The Ethics of In Vitro Fertilization, Part 6, by Stephanie Gray


The beginning of this series can be viewed here.

If you’ve made it this far, there is a glaring topic yet to be addressed: What about those who have already chosen IVF and what about those conceived by IVF?

As for the latter group, people conceived by IVF are image bearers just as those conceived naturally are too. Although the circumstances of an IVF-conceived person’s beginnings go against how God designed new life to be brought forth (as do the circumstances of a hook-up-conceived person’s beginnings do the same), that an unrepeatable, irreplaceable willed-by-God individual now exists is proof of God making “all things new” (Revelation 21:5).  God redeems all things and can take even our sins and draw good out of them.  Children conceived by IVF are the great good that come from it.  That doesn’t mean the original action was good; rather, it means that God is all powerful and can show His glory in any situation, writing straight with our crooked lines.

For those who have chosen IVF, the past cannot be undone.  And so, one’s IVF-related sins (e.g., creating children outside of sexual intimacy, endangering the lives of one’s children, eugenic selection of one’s children, freezing of one’s children, experimentation on one’s children, killing one’s children) need to be repented of/confessed.  These sins, like all sins, need to be laid at the foot of the cross.  One must call on Jesus for mercy.  Find out exactly how many embryos were created and pray over what names you should give them.  Besides memorializing the children through names, think about ways to remember them, acknowledging that they did exist.  If others are aware of your past choice to do IVF, reach out to them and tell them of your new conviction that that was wrong, so as not to lead anyone down the wrong path by example.  Let repentance, Christ’s mercy, and healing be your new story.  Pray over Psalm 51 which begins, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”

Take also these words to prayer: “For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land.  I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.  A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances.  You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

The next question people have is this: Going forward, what should be done?  Most obviously there should be an immediate stop to all IVF and reproductive technologies that manufacture human persons, carelessly treating the resulting individuals as though they are objects to be used and disposed of.  No more human embryos should be created outside of marital sexual intimacy.

As for what to do with those already here, with the embryos who have been created and who are suspended in a frozen state, ethicists and theologians are examining and debating the most ethical solution.  That alone is a topic for a whole other series, which goes beyond the scope of this one which was to make the case that IVF shouldn’t happen to begin with.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Rembrandt