Here’s What Trump, Biden, and the Catholic Church Are Saying About IVF

Peter Pinedo.

February 26, 2024.

National Catholic Register.

Original Article.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 20 that frozen human embryos constitute children under state statute, a decision that could have wide-reaching effects on in vitro fertilization treatments in the state.

Both former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden are voicing staunch support for the type of fertility treatment known as in vitro fertilization (IVF), slamming an Alabama Supreme Court decision that established the personhood of frozen embryos.

In the wake of the ruling, some Alabama fertility clinics have put IVF treatments on hold.

As the U.S. bishops have pointed out, many Catholics may not be aware that the Catholic Church forbids the use of assisted reproductive technology — such as IVF — that replaces the marriage act to achieve pregnancy. In addition, Church teaching deems the destruction of unwanted human embryos common in the procedure “morally unacceptable.”

Trump said in a Truth Social post on Friday that he strongly supports the availability of IVF “in every state” because he wants to “make it easier for mothers and fathers to have babies, not harder.”

“The Republican Party should always be on the side of the miracle of life — and the side of mothers, fathers, and their beautiful babies. IVF is an important part of that,” Trump said, going on to call on the state’s Legislature to “act quickly to find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF in Alabama.”

Biden, meanwhile, called the Alabama ruling “outrageous” and linked it to what he considers a usurpation of women’s rights across the country.

“Make no mistake: This is a direct result of the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Biden said in a Thursday statement.

Vice President Kamala Harris went after Trump directly, saying on X that “no matter what Donald Trump says about IVF,” he is “the architect of this health care crisis.”

What Was the Alabama Ruling?

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Feb. 20 that frozen human embryos constitute children under state statute, a decision that could have wide-reaching effects on in vitro fertilization treatments in the state.

The 8-1 ruling came following a lawsuit brought by several parents whose frozen embryos had been accidentally destroyed at a fertility clinic. The court said that the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act provisions extend to children “regardless of their location.”

“It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation,” the ruling said, adding this is “especially true where, as here, the people of [Alabama] have adopted a constitutional amendment directly aimed at stopping courts from excluding ‘unborn life’ from legal protection.”

What is IVF and What Does the Catholic Church Say About It?

IVF is a procedure that artificially fuses sperm and egg in a lab environment to conceive a child outside the natural sexual act. According to the Mayo Clinic, IVF is typically used as a “treatment for infertility” that “also can be used to prevent passing on genetic problems to a child.”

The Catholic Church has long opposed IVF as “morally unacceptable” because of the rejection of the natural procreative act of husband and wife, the commodification of the human child, and the destruction of embryonic human life, which is very common in the procedure.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that though “research aimed at reducing human sterility is to be encouraged,” practices such as IVF “disassociate the sexual act from the procreative act” and “entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person.”

“Such a relationship of domination,” the Catechism explains, is “contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children.”

John Grabowski, a professor of moral theology and ethics at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., told CNA that the issue is “interconnected” with abortion because “IVF typically results in the creation of ‘spare embryos,’ many of which are frozen, discarded, or destroyed through embryonic stem cell research.”

Speaking on EWTN News In Depth on Feb. 23, Bishop Steven Raica of Birmingham celebrated the Alabama ruling, calling it a crucial step in protecting the dignity of life from the moment of conception.

“Our prayers that we often say in church that life should be respected from the moment of conception till natural death comes into play here as we examine this question that the court had ruled on very much in concord with our hopes and prayers,” he said.