Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

IVF’s moral implications: Justice for preborn life outside the womb

A process of artificial insemination of an egg in an IVF clinic stock photo.
A process of artificial insemination of an egg in an IVF clinic stock photo. | iStock/Kalinovskiy

The Alabama Supreme Court recently affirmed the personhood of a preborn child and the sanctity of life at all stages in a case that involved the wrongful death of embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF).

In LePage v. Mobile Infirmary Clinic, Inc., the Court ruled that the parents of embryos killed at an IVF clinic in 2020 after someone tampered with the cryogenic nursery, destroying the frozen embryos inside, may proceed with a wrongful death lawsuit because the embryos conceived through IVF are children under Alabama law.

This ruling was a wake-up call for many who had never considered the ethical implications of practices like IVF on the most vulnerable people group, the preborn.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

As Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote in his concurring opinion, “each human being, from the moment of conception, is made in the image of God, created by Him to reflect His likeness ... ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I sanctified you’ (Jeremiah 1:5 NKJV 1982). All three branches of government are subject to a constitutional mandate to treat each unborn human life with reverence.”

Moral considerations of IVF

Science has long ago affirmed, and continues to affirm, that human life begins at fertilization. The third edition of Langman’s Medical Embryology, published in 1975, states: “The development of a human being begins with fertilization.”

Maureen Condic, Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, wrote, “The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence ... Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos.”

Steven Andrew Jacobs, J.D., Ph.D., shared in his article, “The Scientific Consensus of When a Human Life Begins,” that 96% (5,337 out of 5,577) of biologists surveyed from 1,058 academic institutions affirmed that human life begins at fertilization. The American College of Pediatricians asserts that the difference between a human in its “zygotic stage” at conception and as an adult is simply “one of form, not nature.”

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jay Mitchell reflected the scientific fact that life begins at fertilization in the Alabama ruling when he wrote, “unborn children are ‘children’ ... without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics.”

An embryo, conceived naturally or through IVF, is a human being worthy of the right to life.

What most people don’t realize is that IVF in America is more destructive to preborn lives than abortion. When Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, the U.S. fertility industry panicked because so many of the practices employed in IVF and artificial fertilization rely on the destruction of embryos. Roe v. Wadepredated IVF, and its precedent helped pave the way for many of the practices the fertility industry employs when dealing with embryos.

It is estimated that more than 1.5 million children are stored as frozen embryos nationwide. And countless embryos have been (and are being) destroyed during each cycle of IVF.

The typical practice of IVF clinics fertilizes far more eggs than are necessary, and the resulting embryos are either: 1. destroyed if there is a suspected genetic abnormality; 2. implanted in the mother’s womb; 3. frozen in cryogenic freezers; and/or 4. otherwise discarded.

A grading process determines which embryos will be implanted, frozen, or destroyed. Among those created, only a fraction are implanted in the womb and born. In fact, Emma Waters, a senior associate who focuses on reproductive technology and bioethics at the Heritage Foundation, said on X that around 97% of embryos created in IVF are either “destroyed, frozen, or fail to implant.”

Embryos graded as “excellent” have a 50% live birth rate and embryos graded as “average” have a 42.3% live birth rate (that is, if they successfully implant in the first place), according to a 2018 study. 

As Katy Faust, founder of the children’s rights organization Them Before Us said, “The babies you do see who are born through IVF are built upon the bodies of dozens, hundreds of little IVF embryos that didn’t make the grade.” 

Since life begins at fertilization, and all human life is sacred, this should inform how we approach the fertility industry.

Approaching IVF from a pro-life perspective  

As it now stands, the fertility industry in the U.S. profits from unethical, eugenic, life-destroying practices that are inconsistent with the fact that life begins at fertilization. It is a multibillion-dollar industry referred to as the “The Wild Wild West” due to the inadequate regulation of “assisted reproductive technology.” In contrast, an Italian law from 2004 (that has since been amended) limited the number of embryos created per cycle and required all embryos to be immediately transferred to the womb. To protect preborn life, IVF policies in the U.S. should similarly model a more conservative, life-affirming approach.

A friend of mine who struggled with infertility approached IVF from a Christian, pro-life worldview and committed to carrying in her womb each embryo that was created, knowing each one was one of their children. Even when doctors encouraged her to abandon certain embryos deemed “abnormal,” she refused and determined to protect the life of each of her preborn babies. Though she lost several of her children implanted by IVF to miscarriages, she is now the mother of four children conceived through IVF.

Although it was harder on her body, my friend insisted that only one embryo be implanted at a time with none being discarded. This couple found an IVF clinic that respected their position that every embryo is a human life. 

Children created through IVF are human beings made in the image of God, just as any child conceived naturally. As far as the future of IVF is concerned, it must be approached in a way that affirms the sanctity of each embryo’s life, places the protection of children before the desires of adults, and treats embryos as children instead of objects for sale.

Ensuring justice for life inside (and outside) the womb

Following the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court, the state legislature rushed to pass a law protecting IVF facilities at the expense of the preborn by providing medical professionals and IVF participants with legal immunity for the death or damage of a frozen embryo. The legislature missed the mark with its knee-jerk reaction that was swayed by political winds instead of by science and morality.

This law fails to recognize the reality that human life begins at fertilization and contradicts both science and Alabama law. The location of the human embryo does not determine whether it is a human life entitled to protection.

Life is the right of all rights. That’s why the Alabama ruling is so monumental in setting a precedent for the right to life for all embryos. All human life is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) in the image of God. Human life, born and unborn, or in this case, in the womb or out, must be protected. It is inconsistent to say that embryos in the womb are worth protecting, but embryos outside the womb are not — they are all created imago Dei.

Though many had never considered the moral implications of IVF, the practice is now under the microscope. Christians must be bold and consistent in affirming the right to life for all preborn humans. Because personhood begins at fertilization, how we approach IVF and the protection of embryos is a matter of life and death.

Mat Staver is founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action, Faith and Liberty, Covenant Journey and Covenant Journey Academy. He has more than 350 legal opinions, authored eight scholarly law review publications, and many articles and books.

Mat has argued in many federal and state courts, including three landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, which includes a 9-0 precedent-setting victory in Shurtleff v. City of Boston. This case unanimously rejected the 1971 Supreme Court opinion of Lemon v. Kurtzman that did incredible damage to the First Amendment for 51-years.

Mat hosts two daily radio programs, "Freedom’s Call and Faith and Freedom," as well as a weekly television program, "Freedom Alive."

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion