Christians and fertility treatments
Although I have a son, the pain of infertility still resonates with me. I still want to assist others who struggle with having children. I want to encourage others going through fertility treatments. I don’t want to look down upon the different options of fertility treatments. Each couple has their own path to parenthood. My husband and I chose the path that we were most comfortable with.
Stigma surrounds infertility. If you read through the Bible, it’s something women have struggled with since ancient times. Children are often seen as a blessing. What appears to be the “withholding” of children seems to be a curse. I struggled long and hard with feeling like I was cursed. That God was holding out on me. Each month of “no” that went by stung deeply. I simply wanted to be a mother. And that’s the desire of so many women. Some couples who get pregnant easily can be quick to deny alternate avenues of pregnancy for others.
The struggle with infertility is hard. I experienced it for nearly 5 years. Here are some of the things that I faced:
- Friends getting pregnant with their first, second, or FOURTH(!) child while my husband and I waited to conceive
- Invitations to baby showers that I either had to refuse or attend but leave early
- Failed intrauterine insemination (IUI), once known as artificial insemination
- Ridicule from a doctor who is supposed to be a top regional doctor in reproductive endocrinology
- The decision to pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF)
The decision to pursue IVF was somewhat difficult. From a Christian perspective, my husband and I at first weren’t sure if we were “playing God” by taking matters into our own hands this way. But we came to the conclusion that God provided a miraculous way for infertile couples to conceive. We aren’t Christian scientists. We believe that God provided Tylenol and technology to help people recover from illness. Why can’t God be involved in the process of creating a child scientifically?
When I spoke to Christian friends and family about our decision to pursue IVF, everyone was supportive. My husband and I agreed beforehand that any viable embryos would not go to waste. Five eggs were extracted from me . While all five eggs fertilized successfully, only two were viable. We chose to freeze (cryopreserve) one and transfer the other. “The other” is now our 11-week-old son. We have a picture of him before he was transferred into my uterus.
I praise God for the existence of modern medicine, technology, and science that gave my husband and I the ability to conceive when we would otherwise likely be childless. Some Christians, however, have issues with infertility treatments, such as egg freezing, donor eggs, donor sperm, and surrogacy. I think each couple has to come to a decision that they’re comfortable with. My husband and I were not comfortable with donor options and surrogacy. There was no need for egg freezing in our case. But for those who struggle with infertility, egg freezing, donor options, and surrogacy might be legitimate fertility routes although there may be legal complications with surrogacy.
A Christianity Today article, The Overlooked Ethics of Reproduction, questions the moral ramifications of assisted reproductive technologies (ART). I couldn’t help but feel a little indignant in reading the article. It was as if the author was passing judgment on Christians who chose to pursue various fertility options, namely surrogacy.
The fact that so many people fail to consider the moral implications of IVF suggests that in the age of fertility treatments, surrogates, and modern family-building via parenting partnerships, a woman’s womb has come to be seen as a somewhat arbitrary location.
As Christians, I think we need to consider the moral implications of ART but not be quick to dismiss them as evil or ungodly. Every couple (or perhaps woman) has a certain comfort level with ART. And if a Christian couple decides to do something that doesn’t seem to line up with biblical principles, such as abortion or discarding viable embryos, I think that is something they will have to eventually explain to God. That couple’s final authority is God, not man.