What Christian Traditions Say About I.V.F. Treatments

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos should be considered children has forced Americans to grapple with a mess of complicated realities about law, infertility, medicine and politics.

At the heart of the decision, there is also Christian theology. “Human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God,” the court’s chief justice, Tom Parker, wrote in his decision.

Among conservative Christians, the belief that life begins at conception has been a driving force behind anti-abortion policies for years. Among the most ardent abortion opponents, that thinking has also led to uncompromising opposition to in vitro fertilization.

“That is the fundamental premise of our entire movement,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, which opposes abortion. I.V.F., she said, “is literally a business model built on disposable children and treating children as commodities.”

But on the morality of I.V.F., there is a more noticeable divide between Catholics and Protestants. Catholic teaching expressly forbids it. Protestants tend to be more open, in part because there is no similar top-down authority structure requiring a shared doctrine.

Evangelical tradition has built a public identity around being pro-family and pro-children, and many adherents are inclined to see I.V.F. positively because it creates more children. Pastors rarely preach on fertility, though they may on abortion.

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