IVF: A Time to Mourn

Each January we are reminded of the millions of lives that have been lost through abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973. Our churches have been sent materials to help us recognize and discuss the importance of life during this time of year when we remember the monumental court ruling that removed the right to life from the most helpless of our society. I was encouraged this past November to see that the state of Mississippi was allowing its people to vote on whether they believed that life began at conception. There seemed to be so much support for the amendment and pro-lifers were optimistic about the outcome. But it failed. It’s not surprising that Planned Parenthood was working overtime in an attempt to “educate” the public and I’m sure had much influence with some of the voters. But what really got me was that the other group leading the fight against the measure were what some might consider “my own people.” Infertile couples and fertility clinics were frightened by the possibility that, as a result of this measure passing, IVF might also become illegal in their state.

The attitude that helped prevent this amendment from passing came across loudly and clearly in the blogosphere during the time prior to the vote. While most of the barren bloggers that I came across who were against the amendment demonstrated a common obsession with self-interest regardless of what the truth might be, at least they appeared to understand the significance of the statement that life begins at conception. For some reason they fully understood what takes place during an IVF procedure. Many well-meaning Christians do not.

Or maybe they do after all. A CNN article that came out in early November focused on one Christian family who seemed to know exactly what they were doing with IVF, and the possibility of having personhood assigned to embryos didn’t give them reason to pause and reflect about what they had already participated in. Rather, it prompted them to move up the date of their next procedure.

I wish I could have a conversation with this family. I’m curious about how they would justify what they were about to do. Would they point to some Scripture passages that guided them to this decision? Would they say that their pastor counseled them to go ahead with this plan? Or did they simply feel that this was the right thing to do? How do their consciences handle the risk they were taking, when statistically 65% or more of their fertilized embryos will die?

If life begins at conception, and if all life is valuable, why don’t we as a Church likewise mourn for those tiny lives who have been conceived through IVF and either discarded to die, frozen to death, or who simply “didn’t take,” meaning they lost their lives in the struggle for the survival of the fittest? Abortion sacrifices the life of an innocent child for the perceived rights of the mother to control her own body. IVF sacrifices the lives of many children for the hope of one healthy, viable child for a desperate couple. Is one situation any less tragic than the other?

Sisters, please help me with this issue. If you take offense somehow or feel that I don’t have all the facts, please contact me (Rebecca) through the “Submit a Question” section. I want to dialogue about this. I want to know more than I do. Do you have a pastor who supported your own decision to do IVF? If so, I would love to talk to him. I want to find out if I’m missing something. But if I’m not–if I’m right on the money here–then we all need to be engaging our churches more in this topic and helping to educate both pastors and lay people about the significance of our actions when we seek to step in as the creator of earthly life and eternal souls. We need to love and cherish those children in our churches who were conceived through IVF while helping their parents and other couples look for alternative ways to fill the voids in their hearts. We need to repent, confess, forgive, and participate in a unified life together in our congregations, where we all have a common understanding of and appreciation for the sanctity of all human life.

We mourn for the deaths in abortions. We mourn for the deaths in miscarriages and stillbirths. Let us also mourn for the deaths that occur in IVF–deaths that are completely preventable.