The Frozen Embryo Problem

Cryopreservation of test tube on liquid nitrogen, a liquid nitrogen bank containing sperm and eggs cryosamples

While in-vitro fertilization (IVF) seems to be a viable solution to infertility for many, the consequences of IVF are often hidden. The clearest consequence is that many more embryos than are “needed” are actually formed. The “extra” embryos are frozen in what is known as cryopreservation.1 These embryos can be conserved for long periods up to…

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In Vitro Fertilization: Unnatural Selection

ivf

Definitions The Centers for Disease Control (CDCs) define the general class of “assisted reproductive technologies” as those procedures where eggs or embryos are handled. This involves surgically removing eggs from a woman’s body, combining them with sperm in the laboratory, and then returning them to the woman (or another woman). The CDCs do not keep…

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Assisted Reproductive Technologies: A Catholic Perspective

couple at a consultation for infertility treatment

The Catholic Church teaches that in vitro fertilization is immoral because it not only commodifies a person but also eliminates the marital act from that person’s creation. In addition, it can lead to the deaths of tiny preborn children when unwanted embryos are discarded or used for testing. This is a bitter pill to swallow…

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The Catechism of the Catholic Church on IVF

IVF, in vitro fertilization

Nowhere else on earth except on a skinny white plastic stick can two vertical lines create such immense joy. What’s represented by those two lines—the culmination of marital love and unity—is the fulfillment of long-held hopes and dreams. Indeed, they often evoke tears of happiness and maybe even a little victory dance. These two lines…

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The Ethics of Artificial Reproductive Technologies

test tubes lab

The very probability that we may be faced with a human person in the full sense constitutes, in my opinion, an absolute veto against any type of [in‑vitro] experimentation. ― Father Bernard Häring.1   Introduction Assisted reproductive technology is one of the most complex moral fields debated today.  It is actually an aggregation of several…

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Teaching about Reproductive Technologies

Couple with baby shoes

If an obscure, small-town Jewish rabbi tells his congregation what Judaism teaches, is that national news? What about if a Buddhist monk preaches the teachings of Buddhism? Or if a Hindu guru explains Hinduism to his followers? It seems quite obvious that there is nothing noteworthy about any of these scenarios. And yet, for some…

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The Vaccines Debate Landscape

free photo from Unsplash

Vaccines are in the news these days, but many Americans are up in arms: Some say vaccines injured or killed their children, Many are horrified that some vaccines are made with cell lines from aborted babies, and Some want to abolish government mandates that deny parents the right to protect their children from dangerous drugs. Human…

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Catholic Bioethics and the Moral Treatment of Human Beings

young nurse caring for an elderly man

Respect, compassion, care, kindness, empathy, and love. These actions come about when people recognize the inherent dignity in every person. And nowhere is it more important to understand people’s inherent dignity than in a capacity where someone has to take care of another or provide for his well-being. This occurs most often in the medical…

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The Early History of Assisted Reproduction

science lab equipment; history of assisted reproductive technology

Senator Brian Harradine: “How often has in‑vitro fertilization been undertaken on non‑human higher primates?” Professor William Short: “It has not been undertaken on gorillas because gorillas are an endangered species.” Senator Brian Harradine: “So you are able to do it on humans?” Professor William Short: “We are not an endangered species.”1   The history of…

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Can We Support Stem Cell Research?

embryonic stem cells

Much of the confusion over stem cell research involves misunderstanding of terms, so let’s begin with some definitions. Stem Cells in General Stem cells are immature cells that are undifferentiated (i.e., they have not yet “decided” what kind of cell to be). A stem cell divides into two cells: (1) a duplicate of itself and…

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