Contributors Life matters

Infertile couples deserve hope, but IVF is not the answer

Debra Niesen is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office.

by Debra Niesen

I recently read a reflection about how to make the most of the last days of Lent. One suggestion was to learn something new that will help us follow Christ’s will more faithfully.

Educating ourselves on what the church teaches about challenging life issues is an important discipline. We don’t know when a loved one may call on us for life-changing advice, so being educated and prepared allows us to be used for good. True compassion begins with sharing truth with love.

The current national dialogue and debate about laws related to assisted reproductive procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) provide a good opportunity for us all to learn why the church opposes these technologies, what their moral implications are, what other ethical and more effective fertility treatments exist and how to share this information with those who are seeking to grow their families via these procedures.

First and foremost, the church’s concern and criticism of technologies such as IVF does not mean that children who have been conceived through IVF have any less value or are any less loved by their parents. All human life is precious and has infinite value from the moment of conception, regardless of how a child was conceived.

Second, a couple’s desire to have children is good and natural. The church wants to accompany those struggling with infertility with authentic love and support.

Couples deserve hope in ethical and effective medical care that both protects the dignity of the human person and respects God’s plan for married love. NaproTechnology does this by addressing the root causes of infertility. It also reports higher rates of success in helping couples achieve pregnancy. Visit the Pope Paul VI Institute for more information (

Finally, seek to understand with an open heart why the church teaches that IVF cannot be accepted or practiced. Though there are too many issues to be thoroughly discussed here, Bishop Burbidge, chair of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, summarized, “All told, there are millions of human beings who have been killed or potentially permanently frozen by the IVF industry. This cannot be the answer to the very real cross of fertility challenges. In efforts to bring about new life, we cannot turn our face from the many more lives that are cut short and extinguished in the process.”

Join us April 3 to learn more about this challenging topic and a compassionate response from Father Luke Doyle, archdiocesan priest and bioethicist. See details online at:, and visit the National Catholic Bioethics Center ( to learn more.

As Easter people, we are called to bring light and life into our own lives and to those whose lives touch ours. Have a blessed Holy Week.

About the author

Debra Niesen

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