Author tackles in vitro fertilization, the other pro-life issue

By Nicholas Elbers, The B.C. Catholic

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholic News] – Although in vitro fertilization can be something of a fringe concern among pro-life groups, there is growing understanding that IVF poses a serious threat to society’s understanding of pre-born human dignity.

Each year, millions of lab-created embryos are put in freezers, to either be forgotten or used for scientific and medical research in experiments, both of which pose serious ethical problems.

Enter Stephanie Gray Connors. The prolific moral apologist and author is the latest to tackle the subject in her new book Conceived by Science: Thinking Carefully and Compassionately about Infertility and IVF.

Gray Connors hopes the book will prompt readers to consider IVF with a more critical eye as she presents arguments against IVF rooted in a Catholic appreciation for human dignity.

She also echoes points made in a March 2021 First Things article by Matthew Lee Anderson, “The Biblical Case Against IVF,” in which he outlined the problematic realities while offering a biblically centred rebuttal for Christians who might be on board with IVF as a practice.”

IVF procedures “suggest a profound crisis in how we understand the significance of human life,” Anderson wrote. Noting that many people consider embryos only “ambiguously human,” they still remain “members of our own species … deserving our love and compassion.”

Responses to the piece were mixed, with some praising the decision to open the debate while one reader accused the magazine of trying to invalidate their grandchildren who had been conceived through IVF.

Gray Connors acknowledged the topic is challenging. “Some people agree that IVF is problematic, but some think my work is a charge that a child shouldn’t exist,” she said.

Gray Connors thinks the latter response skirts the issue: “If I have money that I stole, I could do the best things with it, but the end doesn’t justify the means,” she said.

Gray Connors emphasizes that IVF separates the creation of life from the natural reality of sex and marriage where children are meant to manifest the marital love of a husband and a wife, not to be designed and produced in a lab.

IVF also leads to all sorts of abuses, including the “commodification of human beings” through the buying and selling of not just embryos but human sperm and eggs, says Gray Connors. It also cultivates eugenic attitudes through the process of embryonic selection, she says.

In addition, IVF can be viewed as an abortion-adjacent issue because it often leads to the implantation of more than one embryo, creating a situation in which abortion is used to “reduce” the pregnancy down to a more desirable size.

Stephanie Gray Connors, author of Conceived by Science: Thinking Carefully and Compassionately about Infertility and IVF. The photo was taken when she was seven months’ pregnant with her daughter, who is now six months old. (Photo courtesy of “Love Unleashes Life”)

While the book takes a systematic approach to the issues surrounding IVF and deals with each of its moral complications in turn, Gray Connors also spends significant time discussing alternative treatments for couples experiencing infertility. She believes fostering a message of hope will be one of the keys to helping people who struggle with infertility.

Restorative reproductive medicine, which works to identify and correct the underlying causes of infertility, is given significant examination in the book, and Gray Connors offers numerous stories of couples with fertility problems who had positive results.

She offers her own story of dealing with the miscarriage of her first child as an example. When it appeared a hormone deficiency might have been a factor, she was prescribed supplemental progesterone to help maintain her next pregnancy. She had a healthy delivery and her daughter is now six months old.