Ethics Statements

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Assisted Reproductive Technology Position Statement

As Christians, reflection on assisted reproductive technologies (ART) must begin with recognition that each individual, beginning at fertilization, is a unique creation with special worth to God.

Additionally, marriage and the family are the basic social units designed by God. Marriage is a man and a woman making an exclusive commitment for love, companionship, intimacy, spiritual union, and, in most cases, procreation.[1] Children are a gift and responsibility from God to the family. Parents are entrusted with providing and modeling love, nurture, protection and spiritual training.

In addition to natural conception and birth, married couples may choose adoption or seek assisted reproductive technology, especially when they are unable to have children naturally. Adoption emulates God's adoption of us as spiritual children. Many assisted reproductive technologies may be an appropriate expression of mankind's God-given creativity and stewardship. A husband and wife who suffer from infertility should pray together for God's wisdom (James 1:5). They should be encouraged to seek godly counsel and guidance when considering these technologies.

However, while we are sensitive to the heartbreak of infertility, certain assisted reproductive technologies present direct and indirect dangers to sanctity of human life and the family. As technology permits further divergence from normal physiologic reproduction, it can lead to perplexing moral dilemmas. Not every technological procedure is morally justified and some technologies may be justified only in certain circumstances. The moral and medical complexities of assisted reproductive technologies require full disclosure both of the medical options available and their ethical implications.

These principles should guide the development and use of assisted reproductive technologies:

  • Fertilization resulting from the union of a wife's egg and her husband's sperm is the biblical design.
  • Individual human life begins at fertilization.
  • God holds us morally responsible for our reproductive choices.
  • ART should not result in embryo loss greater than natural occurrence. This can be achieved with current knowledge and technology.

CMDA finds the following consistent with God's design for reproduction:

  • Medical and surgical intervention to assist reproduction (e.g., ovulation-inducing drugs or correcting anatomic abnormalities hindering fertility)
  • Artificial insemination by husband (AIH)
  • Adoption (including embryo adoption)
  • In-vitro fertilization (IVF) with wife's egg and husband's sperm, with subsequent:
    • Embryo Transfer to wife’s uterus
    • Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) to wife’s fallopian tube
    • Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) to wife’s fallopian tube
  • Cryopreservation of sperm or eggs

CMDA considers that the following may be morally problematic:

  • Introduction of a third party, for example:
    • Artificial insemination by donor (AID)
    • The use of donor egg or donor sperm for:
      • In-vitro fertilization
      • Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer
      • Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer
    • Gestational Surrogacy (third party carries child produced by wife’s egg and husband’s sperm) [2]
  • Cryopreservation of Embryos[3]

CMDA opposes the following procedures as inconsistent with God's design for the family: 

  • Discarding or destroying embryos
  • Uterine transfer of excessive numbers of embryos
  • Selective abortion (i.e., embryo reduction)
  • Destructive experimentation with embryos
  • True surrogacy (third party provides the egg and gestation)
  • Routine use of Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis
  • Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis done with the intent of discarding or destroying embryos.

Conclusion

CMDA affirms the need for continued moral scrutiny of developing reproductive technology. We recognize that as physicians we must use our technological capacity within the limits of God's design.

[1] See CMDA Statement : The Non-Traditional Family and Use of Adoption of Reproductive Technologies
[2] Example of appropriate gestational surrogacy: The wife of a couple that has frozen embryos has a change in health status (e.g., loss of her uterus or a major medical problem) that prohibits her from providing gestation. Rather than have their embryos adopted (another acceptable alternative), the couple may choose a gestational surrogate to provide birth to their child.
[3] GUIDELINES FOR CRYOPRESERVATION OF EMBRYOS:

  1. Cryopreservation of embryos should be done with the sole intent of future transfer to the genetic mother.
  2. The number of embryos produced should be limited to eliminate cryopreservation of excessive numbers of embryos.
  3. There should be agreement that all frozen embryos will be eventually transferred back to the genetic mother. Should it become impossible to transfer the frozen embryos to the genetic mother, embryo adoption or gestational surrogacy should be pursued.

Approved by the House of Representatives
Passed with 37 approvals, 2 opposed, 2 abstentions
April 29, 2010. Ridgecrest, North Carolina

Download file Assisted Reproductive Technology Position Statement