Read: The Gospel of Life @ 25: Part 4: Pope St. John Paul & the truth about IVF

Just over a quarter of a century ago, Pope Saint John Paul II released his encyclical, Evangelium vitae, in response to the ever-increasing attacks against human life and dignity. Each Friday, we aim to explore a different aspect the prophetic papal document.
Today’s passage drawn from Section 14 of the encyclical where Pope John Paul tackles the issue of artificial reproduction methods such as In In vitro fertilization or IVF:
“The various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life...these techniques have a high rate of failure: not just failure in relation to fertilization but with regard to the subsequent development of the embryo, which is exposed to the risk of death, generally within a very short space of time. Furthermore, the number of embryos produced is often greater than that needed for implantation in the woman's womb, and these so-called ‘spare embryos’ are then destroyed or used for research which, under the pretext of scientific or medical progress, in fact reduces human life to the level of simple ‘biological material’ to be freely disposed of,” Pope Saint John Paul II, Section 14, Evangelium vitae.
Reflecting upon this passage today is Jenny Ingles, Director of Fertility and Life Ministries for the Diocese of Lansing, who has herself suffered with infertility. Jenny writes:
“John Paul II was very wise in his recognition that artificial reproductive technologies opened the door to new attacks against life. In addition to the aspects of In vitro Fertilization (IVF) he discusses in Evangelium vitae, others have emerged.”
“It is commonplace in the IVF industry to ‘produce’ and implant more embryos than can successfully be carried to term. When this happens, a specialized type of abortion (called reduction surgery) occurs in which the doctor selects one (or more) embryos for abortion while leaving the others to grow. Children ‘produced’ by IVF also have an increased risk of certain birth defects and other newly emerging problems. In 2019, the global IVF market was estimated at $18.3 billion.”
“It is a beautiful and good thing to desire a baby. Babies are incredible gifts that God bestows on parents and it is right for married couples do desire them. Sadly, the IVF industry exploits this desire. Babies are no longer regarded as gifts from God but objects which couples have a ‘right’ to.”
“This distorting of the gift of life is further evident when one reflects on the sad fact that babies are ‘purchased’ through IVF. Instead of being the fruit of the loving embrace of husband and wife, the baby becomes a product of a financial transaction.”

 “But despite this, God is there. All human beings, no matter how they are brought into this world, are made in the Image and Likeness of God and are his beloved children. While it is of the utmost importance that we recognize the evils of IVF and seek to put an end to this practice, it's vitally important to remember that over 1 million babies have been born from IVF and those people are God's gift that has come despite the circumstances surrounding their conception.”

Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!