IVF: Not Necessarily Soul

I received a communication from the Newsy.com site, and a suggestion I link to their 160-second piece summing up major reaction to the 2010 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

One thing that caught my ear was the assumption that a fertilized egg has a soul and this is the reason for Catholic moral opposition to IVF. That’s not quite true.

On one hand, a fertilized egg is not yet a unique human being. It still has the potential to split into twins, triplets, or such. And even twins at a very early stage in embryonic development have a chance to merge into one individual.

However, the Catholic moral position against IVF is based on respect for human life. Embryos may not yet be individual persons, but they are human life. Newsy does underscore the main public objection: the storage or discarding of, or experimentation with human enbryos.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to IVF: Not Necessarily Soul

  1. Jeff says:

    I understand that the Catholic moral position against IVF is based on respect for human life; is not the reason for this a result of our creation in the image and likeness of God? Does this not include the existence of a soul? What is the deeper understanding of that respect for human life? I’m struggling with the sides of the argument in the post. Embryos being human life does not seem, at least to me, have anything to do with the uniqueness of any particular embryo and why uniqueness might even matter at all. I don’t follow the argument or logic. HELP!

  2. Todd says:

    “Does this not include the existence of a soul?”

    Catholics have long debated when the unborn human being receives a soul? Is our humanity defined exclusively by ensoulment? I mention uniqueness because conception usually produces a unique individual, but not always. And if a zygote splits into two, that implies ensoulment takes place after conception.

  3. Liam says:

    The Church has not made a definitive pronouncement on the precise moment when ensoulment of the human person occurs; it has not deemed such a pronouncement necessary for its teachings on the safeguarding of human life from conception.

  4. Jeff says:

    Thanks to you both for the responses and I appreciate the feedback. I think this issue and the Church’s position on IVF is easy to misunderstand and misinterpret. Thanks again.

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