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Catholics for Choice and IVF

March 21, 2024

On February 16, 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos were considered “children” under the state constitution. In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker cited the Bible and warned against “the wrath of a holy God.” This is a perilous example of Christian Nationalism overreaching into civil law. But as we know with IVF and all matters of reproductive rights, the biggest threat is not just posed by Evangelicals.

Activist judges like Justice Parker have been deeply influenced by the Catholic theological idea that “life begins at conception.” But the beliefs of one particular religious group should not determine what kind of medical care is available in the United States — a country where we are guaranteed the constitutional right to the separation of church and state.

At Catholics for Choice, we affirm all individuals’ abilities to make conscience-based decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures. Conscience is a core tenet of our faith, and if someone’s conscience leads them to pursue parenthood through IVF, we support them in that journey.

We were honored to speak with NPR and the Congressional Freethought Caucus about IVF. Read more about both opportunities below.

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Real Catholics are relying on IVF to grow their families every day. CFC’s President Jamie Manson, plus two Catholic couples — one who used IVF more than 20 years ago and one who is currently pregnant with their first child, conceived through IVF— were also able to share their views with NPR’s Jason DeRose.

Click here to read their moving stories and hear more about our opposition to the church’s stance on IVF.

NPR: Despite church prohibitions, Catholics still choose IVF to have children

It’s spiritual violence for the church to tell women that their main goal in life is to raise children and then shame and stigmatize them for seeking fertility treatments.

Catholics for Choice President Jamie Manson was honored to join Rep. Jared Huffman and Rep. Jamie Raskin for a briefing with members of Congress and staff about IVF and Christian Nationalism. Here is an excerpt from her remarks:

“I’m here today because on all matters of sexual and reproductive ethics – from IVF, to abortion and miscarriage care, to women’s and LGBTQIA+ equality — the Catholic church hierarchy is one of the main drivers of implementing theological ideas into our laws. They have invested millions of dollars into electoral campaigns, like Ohio’s recent Issue 1 to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution; they use their parishes and pulpits to organize and mobilize; they have wielded power and infiltrated the Supreme Court, evidenced by the fact that all of the Justices that overturned Roe v. Wade are or were raised Catholic; and they commit spiritual violence against those they are supposed to lead, for example by weaponizing the eucharist against Catholic politicians who disagree with them.

“It is spiritual violence for the church to tell women that their main goal in life is to raise children, and then shame and stigmatize them for seeking fertility treatments, or needing miscarriage or abortion care, or even realizing that parenthood is not the right path for them. It is a subtle and insidious way that religious leaders are trying to create a Christian nation that is anything but Christian, along with the narrow-minded and oppressive gender norms that come with their false interpretation of the tradition.

The truth is the majority of Catholics support and utilize IVF, contraception, and abortion.
CFC President Jamie Manson

“I have good news: while church teaching does – and has – changed on many matters of sexual and reproductive ethics throughout the years, there is one belief that Catholics hold dear that supersedes these lesser teachings: Conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “in all that we say and do, we are obliged to follow faithfully what we know to be just and right.” In all matters of sexual and reproductive health, most Catholics inherently recognize the value of individual conscience in their decision making, and that means they make the decision that is most right for them, regardless of church teaching on the matter, whether we are talking about IVF, abortion, divorce, marriage equality, or anything else. The truth is the majority of Catholics support and utilize IVF, contraception and abortion.”

Click here or below to watch Jamie’s full remarks, as well as the rest of the briefing.

Thank you to all the former and practicing Catholics who have shared their stories regarding IVF. Speaking your truth is powerful and encourages others to do the same.

If you are a Catholic (or former Catholic) who has used IVF, please consider sharing your story.

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