IVF and Embryo Adoption

Not many people really understand what IVF is, and now it’s in the news a lot because of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision. Hardly anybody knows what embryo adoption is, so I want to make a few comments today to help clarify what in vitro fertilization or IVF is, and what the ethical issues are that we particularly need to think through, no matter how we end up, sorting out the politics or the law or the policy issues that are related to these two things.

So let me begin with IVF. IVF is a process in which an infertile couple can have a child. They go through a rather invasive and expensive process to remove an egg from the mother and sperm from the father, and they bring them together in a petri dish. Now, because this is such an invasive and expensive process, they don’t just go in and take out one egg and try to fertilize it and then implant that new embryo into the mother. They go in and they may remove 10-30 eggs at one time and add the sperm and create, in effect, dozens of human beings in the earliest stages of life.

They are fertilized in a petri dish and then put into a freezer and held there for weeks, months and even decades in some cases. We have frozen embryos that are over 20 years old in some fertility clinics. That raises some of the ethical issues that we need to sort out. And that is, is it right for us to create human beings like this and to treat them as products or as property of this couple rather than as human beings with human rights and protections? That’s the ethical issue that we have to sort out.

My view is that it’s morally wrong to create human beings like this and stick them in a freezer where they can neither live nor die. I don’t think that is a Biblical vision for human life, and I don’t think it prospers any country to create millions and millions of human beings in these early stages of development and treat them as property rather than with the dignity that we all deserve being made in the image of God. Therefore, I discourage people from using IVF to solve their infertility challenges. I do encourage people, however, to address the pain of infertility using embryo adoption, which I’ll comment on further in a minute.

Let’s bring up the issue with the Supreme Court in Alabama and what they recently decided. Here’s the background to the case. Number one, the Alabama State Constitution says the following: “This state acknowledges, declares, and affirms that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, including the right to life.” In Alabama, the citizens there put it in their constitution that unborn human beings would have the same rights and protections as a 2-year-old or a 20-year-old or a 68-year-old such as myself. That’s pro-life. That is the idea of the sanctity of human life that God alone gives us these rights and they cannot be rightfully or justly taken away from us by any government.

So what happened? A while back, somebody walked into one of these IVF clinics and accidentally destroyed a number of frozen embryos. The parents of these frozen embryo children then wanted to ask the question, can they sue the clinic for failing to protect the lives of these embryos who were their children? And that’s the question that the court has answered.

I’m going to re-quote from the author Josh Hammer out of a Newsweek magazine just to get it right. He writes, “The Alabama Supreme Court had held in an uninterrupted line of cases that an unborn child constitutes a minor child under the state’s wrongful death statute, regardless of the stage of embryonic or fetal development. This line of reasoning was not disputed. What now became a dispute is whether that line of reasoning applied to the embryo, whether it was inside the womb or inside the freezer.” That was what they had to decide.

The Court decided that since the law and the Constitution make no such distinction or make no exceptions to these rules that they would apply the intent of the law, which is that unborn children, no matter where they are, are endowed by their creator with the natural right to life, and they deserve the legal protections that we all deserve. I think they made the right decision. Now, politics being what it is, various people are trying to look and reposition and reinterpret what’s being said in order to gain or lose votes. I don’t want to really get into that battle. I just want to help us to think biblically and morally about the unborn human being.

I think the way we address the pain of infertility is not to promote IVF, but rather to promote embryo adoption. Embryo adoption is now part of my family history. My daughter, Megan, and her husband, Ben, went through embryo adoption to face their own issues with infertility a while ago, and it’s proven to be very successful and is very ethical. In other words, what they’re doing is they are legally adopting these frozen embryos and then giving each of them a chance to be implanted and to grow naturally. We were blessed with two grandchildren, one boy and one girl, Maudie and Turin.

Embryos that were implanted into my daughter. We have plenty of pictures of us holding them when they just got out of the hospital. The most recent picture I have was taken right after their first birthday, just enjoying being little kids at one year old, and hopefully I’ll add to this collection a picture of our babies when they are two years old and five years old and when they graduate from high school and college and when they get married. They’ll have all the normal pictures that every family wants to have of their children.

The point is, human life, according to both science and the Bible, begins at fertilization or at conception. This means that embryos are simply what we call human life at the early stages. For that reason, I think IVF creates all kinds of moral problems where we are creating dozens and dozens (and now we have millions) of frozen human beings waiting to be adopted. At the same time, we have people struggling with the pain of infertility, and the solution is to bring these two problems together. Let people who are struggling with infertility adopt embryos and go through the blessing of pregnancy and birth. This is adopting children at an earlier stage rather than as newborns.

I encourage you to promote this video, to explain it to other people, use it and promote it on social media. I invite you to really follow us at Passion Life where we continue to bring these issues like embryo adoption to many new countries and introduce it for the first time. Many countries are struggling with infertility issues, but this is the answer to the problem. Let’s go out there and promote embryo adoption