PRO-LIFE BASICS: What should we do with our frozen embryos?

For over two years, my husband and I struggled with infertility. We were desperate to have a child, and my faith was getting weaker and weaker. I stopped going to church—even stopped praying. We eventually decided to pursue in vitro fertilization. It did not work either, but as a result, more than 10 embryos were produced. I then decided to give up on medical treatments and leave my future in God’s hands. Surprisingly, a few months later I got pregnant. It became clear to us that our son was sent from God. After a while, I got pregnant again naturally and delivered a healthy baby girl. However, we are now left with the question of what we should do with the embryos [who] have been frozen. Are they life already? Shall we keep them frozen forever? Shall we discard them? Please give us some light so we can be in peace.  —Anonymous

The embryonic children who were created in the laboratory are indeed your flesh and blood, and because they have been cryopre­served (frozen), they are suspended in time but are still alive.

Catholic moral theologians are divided about whether or not it is morally permissible to place such embryonic children in the homes of adoptive parents but, as a matter of princi­ple, I recommend that you do attempt to find couples who would adopt these children.

There is one caveat, however. The adopting couple would have to understand the perils and possi­ble disappointments this process entails, because a large number of cryopreserved embryonic chil­dren do not survive the process of thawing and placement in a hopeful mother’s womb. Be that as it may, these are your children, and they deserve a chance to be born and raised in the midst of a loving family.

Your experience and the existence of those babies are ample proof that the Catholic Church is right in her teaching that in vitro fertilization is immoral. If it were banned, as it should be, you would not be feeling so anguished. You are in my prayers.

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About the author

Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president of American Life League and served 15 years as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.