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Why Michelle Obama is wrong about IVF

The blunt truth is that the strong desires for bearing and raising children cannot come before the morality of the process which gets someone there.

Michelle Obama interviewed by ABC News about her memoir, titled "Becoming". (Screenshot: ABC News)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama told ABC in an interview that will air tonight that Sasha and Malia were created through IVF. According to Obama, she and former President Barack Obama chose IVF after a miscarriage.

As I wrote at CatholicVote, the Obamas made what is becoming a popular choice for many couples facing fertility challenges. Infertility is often a real physical, emotional, and spiritual struggle, just as it was for the Obamas. Helping couples and individuals through this time of difficulty requires an open ear, a compassionate heart — and opposition to IVF on the basis that the end good of a loved child can never overcome the inherent wrongs in the IVF process.

First: morality and compassion for people considering IVF

As with any delicate balance of helping someone through a serious challenge that has objective moral components, outsiders must have a compassionate and loving approach that is guided by a strong moral foundation.

This is difficult when trying to help family or friends with strong desires for children who cannot have them. Many people find opposition to IVF personally offensive – both because of their fertility struggles and the presence of child(ren) they may have through IVF.

Respecting and understanding this reaction without patronizing or lecturing is important. But just as love for same-sex couples doesn’t include supporting their immoral relationship choices, and the joy of a new child doesn’t justify sexual intercourse outside of marriage, nor can proper support for struggling couples ever include support for IVF.

Despite its popularity, IVF is morally wrong. It’s important that Americans – especially those who claim the pro-life mantle – understand why.

Objective moral reasons to oppose IVF

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that IVF  is “morally unacceptable” as it “dissociate[s] the sexual act from the procreative act.” Drawing upon the 1987 document Donum Vitae, it further explains:

The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.” (CCC, 2377)

An important fact about IVF is that it denies unborn children their humanity – despite the love with which many IVF-created children receive. Babies which are not used for impregnation are not provided a loving home, but are rather frozen, donated for research, or killed. This is the vast majority of embryos.

For pro-life advocates, IVF’s causal link to abortion should lead to opposition. IVF has resulted in the deaths of millions of unborn children. Between 1991 and 2012, 1.4 million IVF-created babies were killed in Britain alone.

Just as with any embryo, a child created through IVF is a unique human beings deserving of as much legal protection as every other person – born or unborn. Yet those who aren’t killed are still treated like commodities through being frozen or donated to charity.

IVF is also the beginning of the slippery slope to eugenics, where babies with “undesirable” characteristics are not given the same love as “acceptable” children. We’ve seen this with Down Syndrome babies, 90 percent of whom are aborted because of their disability. How much is it for embryos when one out of 10 or more is desired, and the rest are not?

Surviving children face separate challenges.

Even children who survive the IVF process – which is no guarantee, as miscarriages are about as common with IVF-created children as for pregnancies created naturally – may be scarred from the experience. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains, the separation of the child from the union of sexual intercourse can create health challenges.

For example, while studies are mixed, some research shows significant physical and mental health issues for IVF-created children. And just as sometimes happens with adopted children or kids raised by single parents, confusion may result from the uncertainty inherent in not being raised by both biological parents.

Additionally, even if there are no IVF-related health issues, an IVF-created child may be left in the proverbial lurch if he or she runs into health challenges without knowing their full genetic history.

Supporters of IVF might point to adoption and say that some of these same challenges exist for those children. That’s true. But adoption is an effort to make the best of tough situations for the sake of the child and – in many cases – the birth parents of said child. Conversely, IVF creates the tough circumstances for the child, using immoral means to achieve a worthwhile end.

Growing the size of government

A number of U.S. states require IVF insurance coverage, and Australia and Britain subsidize it. As IVF continues to grow in popularity and use, it is obvious that governments will continue to use public dollars to support it – or require private companies to cover it. (In 2001, the World Health Organization endorsed public programs incorporating infertility treatments.)

This is especially true when it comes to the LGBT agenda of creating new rights out of thin air. Professor Robert Oscar Lopez, a self-described “ex-gay” who is now married with four children, was the first person to make me aware of the chattel nature of IVF. Lopez condemned IVF on its own (lack of) merits, but especially because he believes it creates a market environment for helpless children…for the sakes of those who are in inherently sterile relationships.

But in today’s politically correct world, IVF must be supported to create “equal” rights for same-sex couples, right? That’s what Maryland lawmakers decided in 2015 when they expanded a previous mandate for IVF coverage for straight couples to same-sex couples.

Acceptance is really the key

The blunt truth is that the strong desires for bearing and raising children cannot come before the morality of the process which gets someone there. Immoral means can never be used for a good end. This means acceptance may be the only answer for many people – and a tough answer it is.

The good thing is that there are great examples of couples and individuals who have overcome infertility. The Bible is full of people who accepted this challenge in life. Evangelical author Chelsea Patterson Sobolik discusses acceptance in her 2018 book Longing for Motherhood. And many couples have chosen adoption as a way to bring to fruition their love in a different way than they had originally anticipated.


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About Dustin Siggins 3 Articles
Dustin Siggins is founder of Proven Media Solutions, a communications and business strategy firm. He is a former political journalist who is widely published on issues of public policy, culture, and politics in outlets such as USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Roll Call, and National Review Online. He has appeared on television and radio across the country.

27 Comments

  1. I need answers to the following clips from this article.
    ” Catholic Church states that IVF is “morally unacceptable” as it “dissociate[s] the sexual act from the procreative act.” How “grave” is IVF? The term morally or gravely evil is not used.
    “Despite its popularity, IVF is morally wrong”. The issue here isn’t morality it is timing. A couple who suffer the malady and pain of infertility are in no position to discuss their situation. God certainty works in strange ways… my wife couldn’t stop getting pregnant even though she had serious health issues.

    I continue to express that if God allowed us the science to improve the fertility of a couple, let their conscience be their guide.

    • “The issue here isn’t morality it is timing.”

      No. Something objectively sinful on Tuesday is still objectively sinful come Friday.

      “A couple who suffer the malady and pain of infertility are in no position to discuss their situation.”

      Huh? Speaking from personal experience, this is nonsense.

    • I’m no expert on this, but I don’t think it is true to say that the fertility of the couple is “improved” by IVF – rather, they remain infertile but have used unnatural means to bring a child into the world.

      I have long been amazed at the lack of “acceptance” – as a young person, I knew of close relatives who were heartbroken at not being able to have children, but having explored all means of becoming fertile, they accepted that this was God’s will for them. That is the only Catholic attitude. The “I want, so I must get” is not remotely Catholic.

      Prior to the current crisis in the Church, Catholics understood the twin relationship between Scripture and Tradition, and when the Church pronounced on a matter of faith or morals which had always been believed by all Christians, everywhere, at all times, that was the end of the debate. It is, thus, very sad to see Catholics going along with this “new morality” which is based on a false understanding of conscience. If our conscience dictates (and it much “dictate” before we are obliged to follow it) that we must act in a manner that contradicts the moral law, as defended and promoted by Christ’s Church, then we have to at least admit that we are following our personal opinion. We cannot claim to be acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

      For the record, I now have small IVF children in my own extended family, and I love them as I do all the others, and treat them no differently. They all cost me a fortune at Christmas!

    • wrong
      indeed many think abortion is ok, their
      conscience can not recognize the evil
      as they themselves have refused to seek
      truth, even Day, who may become a saint,
      had one during her confused early life-
      but sin is sin.
      ivf leaves the human out of procreation,
      as well as hundreds of embroys

  2. Just one question – how do you sleep at night?
    There is nothing in the Holy Scripture that dictates that assisted pro-creation, like that of either IUI or IVF procedures, is sinful.
    I’m sorry that this is the conclusion you have reached, and am incredibly offended that you would compare the “love” between a same-sex couple and the marital love that a couple struggling with infertility and find them one and the same in their desire to produce children. Shame on you!
    I pray that our heavenly Father changes your heart on this matter because this will only push people further away from the true love that He has for all of us.
    In the Psalms, David wrote that God knit him in his mother’s womb, and I can’t see my God punishing those who conceive through IVF or any other means of non-conventional conception as those who practice homosexuality, or any number of other sins that He abhors.
    I dare say that you are one of the few practicing Catholics that take this stance, because though I claim a more “protestant” view on the Scriptures, I have found brothers and sisters in the faith that follow a more “catholic” methodology, and not once have I heard this idea from one of them.
    Again, I pray that our heavenly Father leads you to a different understanding on this subject. I have found little grounds for agreement with Mrs. Obama’s outlook on life, and her political philosophies, so please don’t misunderstand me as simply taking this stance in her defense. But her girls are no less loved by God or created in His image because they just so happened to be conceived through IVF.

    • “I dare say that you are one of the few practicing Catholics that take this stance…”

      You did note that the article quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which outlines the Church’s teaching against IVF?

      “because though I claim a more “protestant” view on the Scriptures…”

      Granted.

      “I have found brothers and sisters in the faith that follow a more “catholic” methodology, and not once have I heard this idea from one of them.”

      Noted.

      “Again, I pray that our heavenly Father leads you to a different understanding on this subject.”

      So you wish the author to reject clear Church teaching? Huh.

      “But her girls are no less loved by God or created in His image because they just so happened to be conceived through IVF.”

      The author certainly doesn’t say that’s the case.

      I’d suggest you refresh your understanding of the what and why of Church teaching.

    • “There is nothing in the Holy Scripture that dictates that assisted pro-creation”

      If you are a Catholic, as you claim, you certainly ought to know that “sola scriptura” is a fallacy.

      “I claim a more “protestant” view on the Scriptures”

      In other words, you think you know better than the Church does. So, at this point you’ve claimed that everything is in Scripture, and that your personal interpretation of Scripture is the only authoritative one.

      Boil your argument down to “Non serviam.” It’ll save wear and tear on your keyboard.

    • wrong
      indeed many think abortion is ok, their
      conscience can not recognize the evil
      as they themselves have refused to seek
      truth, even Day, who may become a saint,
      had one during her confused early life-
      but sin is sin.
      ivf leaves the human out of procreation,
      as well as hundreds of embroys

  3. You should thank your God that you have never suffered from infertility or miscarriages and the utter heartbreak and desolation it brings. Thank your God that you have never had to hear the words that there is a high possibility you cannot have children.

    Actually the conclusion of the ‘scientific research’ you linked to states ‘CONCLUSIONS In general, the longer-term mental and emotional health outcome for children born from IVF treatment is reassuring, and is very similar to that of naturally conceived children’ so your claim of ‘significant physical and mental health issues for IVF-created children’ is unfounded. In fact, there is some research that shows in the early years IVF babies are actually developmentally ahead of unplanned babies.

    There is no biblical basis for your spurious claims, none at all. You say this should be dealt with without patronising or lecturing, yet you did both. You say you should deal with this with love. There is no love in this article.

    “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    • Bob, you are expressing your personal opinion, and strangely I don’t find that more authoritative than the teachings of the Church.

      “You should thank your God that you have never suffered from infertility or miscarriages and the utter heartbreak and desolation it brings. Thank your God that you have never had to hear the words that there is a high possibility you cannot have children. ”

      There are children in this country, and in the rest of the world, who are desperate to have parents who will take care of them and love them. There is nothing to stop you having children.

  4. Ivf is the Trojan horse for brave new world and infertile couples should realize they are eugenics handmade mp3 less than are homosexual couples.

    In an age of abortion it is a shame the infertile can’t reach out to crisis pregnancies to adopt.

  5. The failure to point infertile couples to NaPro Technology or some other “Church approved” means of medical assistance with infertility is this article’s biggest failure. IVF is not the only medical means to overcome infertility.

  6. “you’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too from the bottom of a long glass tube whoa….whoa….”
    —Zager and Evans, In the Year 2525 (68)

  7. From memory IVF isn’t mentioned in the bible. So where do you draw your authority from? Is catholic catechism the word of god?
    As for adoption: are you aware that most birth mothers did not want to give their children up and there is a long, long history of various churches forcing the separation of mothers and babies?
    Most importantly of all: a church that turned a blind eye to the criminal abuse of children, for decades, is now devoid of moral authority. Your church as been shown as untrustworthy to care for children. Plain fact!
    Doesn’t the bible say something about looking at the plank in your own eye before pointing out the splinter in someone else’s?

    • oh but get behind me Satan

      it is only the Apostleitic Authority – the Magisterium- that
      can define truth
      Scripture is none part of Gods activity with man,
      Protestant belief, from Luther on, has put mans
      thought, individual conscience, above truth.
      also one can discern the logic of the church
      but reason can not reveal truth- only once Revelelation
      occurs can we then say, oh that is why etc
      the faith is a living body if Christ:
      the Bible, the Church history, the Magisterium
      all are part, the actuality of the Sacremental
      give Catholicism its foundation because
      it is the church Christ established
      all the sin in the wirld wont lessen the truth
      all those who fall away wont change that
      which was, is , and will always BE

    • Suzie, lots of things aren’t mentioned in the Bible. So what? God established the Church, and the books of the Bible were written by members of the Church and canonized by the Church.

      “As for adoption: are you aware that most birth mothers did not want to give their children up and there is a long, long history of various churches forcing the separation of mothers and babies?”

      So? What does that have to do with the fact that there are many children today who need adopting.

      “Most importantly of all: a church that turned a blind eye to the criminal abuse of children, for decades, is now devoid of moral authority. Your church as been shown as untrustworthy to care for children. Plain fact!”

      No, plain opinion. Judging by your name, you’re a woman. There are numerous women who have criminally abused children. Therefore you are devoid of moral authority. You have been shown as untrustworthy to care for children. Plain fact!

      • My point is Leslie that if the Bible is God’s word anything after that is Human word. So where do you draw the line?

        You can believe what you like but it has been amply proved over and over again in many countries that church members, and clergy DID sexually abuse children. Yes women can do it also – which does not strip me of moral authority by the way because I have not been convicted of abusing children. I have NOT been SHOWN to be untrustworthy but many priests have been PROVEN to be untrustworthy. Your logic is plain silly. A priest can do it and so can a woman: what’s the point we can’t trust anyone? Sure, don’t trust anyone I guess we can’t trust you either!

        Let’s not forget the current pope has acknowledged sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests – can we trust him Leslie?

        • “My point is Leslie that if the Bible is God’s word anything after that is Human word.”

          You do not seem to understand that God’s Word (the Son; Jesus) established the Church, and the Bible does not have more authority than Tradition and the Magisterium. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a2.htm

          “which does not strip me of moral authority by the way because I have not been convicted of abusing children. I have NOT been SHOWN to be untrustworthy but many priests have been PROVEN to be untrustworthy.”

          I was pointing out your ridiculous lack of logic; because some priests have been proven to be untrustworthy doesn’t mean that all of them and the Church are. That’s as silly as assuming that all women are untrustworthy because some are. You are pleased to assume that the former is true but get all miffed when your own reasoning is turned against you.

          I don’t deny that there has been sexual abuse of children by some priests, but that has nothing at all to do with in vitro fertilization and how wrong it is.

        • Hmm, I just noticed that it was Suzie who made the original post but Sylvia who replied to my reply, saying “My point is…” I judge that the person who wrote the orginal post was the one replying; not sure why she decided to change her name…

          • The reason for the name change was purely a mistake but read what you will into it.

            Leslie, once again when you have an organisation that it has now been established across the world as having hosted thousands of sexual perpetrators, including homosexual perpetrators, (not to mention other forms of abuse), covered it up, allowed these priests and brothers to continue having access to children by simply moving them to other parishes, then when individuals are charged with these crimes it proceeds to put enormous funds into defending them in the courts: you have an organisation that has lost the moral authority to tell people what is right and wrong. Why? Because the church did not follow it’s own rules and this was wide spread and continues to this day.

            As for this:
            You do not seem to understand that God’s Word (the Son; Jesus) established the Church, and the Bible does not have more authority than Tradition and the Magisterium. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c2a2.htm

            This is your belief and a belief hotly contested among various other christian churches. You believe what you want, however, the assertions of your replies reflects the forceful ways of your church which allows no dialogue and simply insists that it is correct.

            It is this faith that has led to thousands of crimes being committed against children, unwed mothers, the children of unwed mothers who were stolen from these mothers, and against the native peoples of the Americas, the Caribbean, the Pacific, Australia and Africa who had their lands stolen, families separated and many millions were killed one way or the other, all in the name of converting them to a faith that sanctioned these crimes. And all this in the last couple of hundred years.

            If you can still believe such a church is the first and final word of morality, and support that church in judging the morality of others, I cannot.

          • “This is your belief and a belief hotly contested among various other christian churches. You believe what you want, however, the assertions of your replies reflects the forceful ways of your church which allows no dialogue and simply insists that it is correct. ”

            “If you can still believe such a church is the first and final word of morality, and support that church in judging the morality of others, I cannot.”

            So, essentially you didn’t think the Church has any moral authority in the first place, and this is just a convenient stick with which to beat Her. Your spite is showing quite clearly.

    • You might want to follow your advice in your last sentence.

      The most ignorant comment you make in regard to something not being in the Bible. Desire at any cost before truth, eh ‘Suzie’? Bearing one’s cross doesn’t come to your mind and neither does those discarded embryos that is a natural product of IVF.

  8. I think it is pretty easy to see what is wrong with IVF from a consequentialist position (eg. you have to become a mass murderer, but harder to see why it is intrinsically wrong. Unfortunately, so many who want a child don’t care about a natural law precept or a teaching of the Catholic Church.

    • If by “this thinking” you mean pointing out why in vitro fertilization is wrong: apparently your argument is that people are leaving the Church because the Church refuses to say, “Oh, hey, do whatever you want, nothing is wrong.”

  9. Speaking from personal experience also, I can witness to adoption as “the 8th sacrament” (unofficially, of course). The Paschal Mystery is written all over it. But early on in our sojourn of bewilderment, fertility drugs, tests, etc., a now-deceased tribunal officialis told me over coffee one morning something I’ve not seen in the above article or in any comments, though I may have missed it. I don’t know that the CCC addresses it. And it is this: Do we have an absolute right to a child? We certainly have a right to desire to conceive. But children are not objects of parental happiness. They have their own subjectivity and dignity, and are not to be manufactured. Of course, to carry the conjugal cross of infertility requires a shared docile faith, and certainly compassionate, pastoral care. The latter sometimes is outside the competence of many priests and deacons. And adoption avenues have been scarce ever since 1973, scarcer with Catholic Charities now out of that ministry to pregnant women discerning, and to longing couples. A delicate pastoral and moral issue flattened out by secularism. I wish parishes would include these couples in the General Intercessions on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They sit in church while roses and blessings are given, invisible in their longing.

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