Kelly,
I am curious what you think of IVF. We have considered adoption, and will probably still adopt, but we feel very strongly that we want to go this route first. We have discussed and agreed on some things that were important in regards to our faith. First, we agreed that we will transfer *all* embryos. In other words, if three eggs, fertilize; three embryos are transferred; and three embryos remain, I will be having triplets. =) This is a very non-traditional way of doing things as the clinic likes to try to fertilize all of the eggs they harvest, but I felt very strongly that if life begins, that life should be in God’s hands. We are only going to try this once (perhaps twice), and then we will move on to adoption. What are your thoughts on IVF?

IVF is a recent (historically speaking) medical advancement in reproductive health. In this procedure, a fertilizable ovum is removed from a woman’s ovary, fertilized with sperm, and then inserted into the woman’s womb. [This picture shows a fetus holding a surgeon’s hand]

IVF in itself does not violate scripture. No more so than countless other medical advancements do (including c-sections, induced labors, and epidurals).

Where IVF gets messy is when embryos are fertilized that are either 1) frozen, 2) terminated (“selectively reduced”), or 3) used for research (utilitarian termination). In each of these cases, IVF was used as a way to create life, but also as a means to destroy it. The life that God created is not revered as such.

All reproductive acts – whether its conceiving naturally, using fertility treatments, or abstaining – carry with them a significant burden of responsibility. The way IVF is currently performed often encourages people to be cavalier about their incumbent responsibilities. If you think of sin as anything that displeases God, then I’m pretty sure that being cavalier about people’s lives is on the list.

That said, it sounds to me like the way you are approaching this is right on – you are using IVF responsibly by only fertilizing a limited number of eggs, transferring all of them, and avoiding the possibility of frozen or terminated embryos. I’m praying for triplets!!!

Here are some other thoughts related to this topic:

  • God gives us children and He keeps us from being able to have them. (Gen. 30:2). Children conceived through IVF are as much given from God as those who are conceived naturally. We cannot create life without God; and He can keep people from having kids by not allowing IVF to work. IVF doesn’t tie God’s hands.
  • I wish more people considered adoption, like you are doing. Whether or not they have difficulties conceiving, adoption is as rewarding – if not more so – than having biological children. After all, adoption is the visible gospel.
  • The IVF decision has profound spiritual nexuses – this must be a decision made after significant prayer, as you have done. God has different relationships with and purposes for each of us, and we have different levels of faith – for example, IVF may be okay for one person, but a violation of conscience for another. In that case, I would advise the person not pursue IVF (Rom. 14).

And my thoughts on counter-arguments:

  • Infertility can be caused by a number of ungodly decisions for which a woman might be responsible.

    I praise the Almighty God who can not only wash away sin, but also the consequence of that sin. Remember, women cannot conceive through IVF unless the Lord allows them.
  • A doctor treats disease; he should not do what is over and above the goal of health. He is allowed to treat a woman for a condition causing infertility, but not to “manufacture” her child.

    I don’t see anything in the Bible about doctors being limited to treating disease. And, again, I don’t think the doctors are “manufacturing” anything. They’re facilitating – like a c-section, an epidural, and episiotomy, etc. The life cannot be created unless God allows it. But once created, it must be handled with grave responsibility.

  • In IVF, imperfect sperm are not screened out as they are in natural conception.

    Yes, that’s a risk. You may have a child with health problems or a failure-to-thrive embryo. And those embryos are as valuable in God’s eyes as a perfectly healthy one. But, imperfect sperm are not always screened out in natural conception either.
  • Imperfect or supernumerary foetuses are often killed.

    This is the aspect of IVF that grieves the Lord. But again, you can go through IVF without engaging in this practice. The two acts are separate and distinct.
  • More children are born prematurely through IVF, with problems resulting from this and medical problems for a woman can occur in IVF more than in natural pregnancy.

    Which might be a good reason for people not to choose IVF, but it is not a scriptural or theological reason.
  • IVF degrades the two-in-one-flesh unity of parents by deflating the importance of the flesh as a vehicle of love in the formation of new life.

    Perhaps, if looked at in its aggregate effect on society. But this is not true for each couple. I suspect many couples who are assisted by IVF still value the unity of their bodies and their love while undergoing IVF, pregnancy, and parenthood. It seems this is more a policy argument than a personal-decision argument. If someone believed strongly in this argument, though, then I would encourage that person from refraining from IVF so as to avoid violating his/her conscience.

Let me know if you want to discuss further — I’d be more than happy to! I am so happy for you, and I pray that this process goes really well!