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Question from Mary Quinn O'Connor on 5/2/2019:

I know the church's teachings on IVF. What must one do if a devout catholic, who is a single woman, does IVF because she is desperate to have a family of her own? Is she excommunicated? Is it a matter of going to confession? And if its a matter of confession.... what if one is not truly contrite ... after-all, how could they be when they so DEEPLY love the child they have because of IVF? I understand being able to be contrite for going against God's natural plan for conception. Is that enough to be absolved?

Answer by Judie Brown on 5/7/2019:

Dear Mary

I asked Anthony Dardano, M.D to answer you as well and he wrote:

Mary, your first sentence answers your dilemma. If you know the church’s teaching which forbids IVF, then you should go no further. Your issues go even deeper, however. What you are asking for, a single mom, devout Catholic, wanting a family by IVF, goes against our basic beliefs. Furthermore, going to “confession”when not contrite, further compounds the matter. There can be no absolution without a contrite heart. Understanding being contrite, but not being able to be contrite, is not enough. I am not a moral theologian but in my opinion, what you describe would be gravely sinful, but would not incur excommunication.

My best advice is this. You need a good spiritual director with whom you can discuss in depth your dilemma. This would entail a series of sessions which hopefully will get you back on the right moral track.

One last thought. While it is more difficult these days for a single woman to adopt, it is not impossible. In fact, my niece, a teacher and never married, has adopted two international children. What a joy this has been for her and her family. This still remains an option. My prayers are with you that God and His Holy Mother, will guide you down the right path and bring you peace.

Anthony N Dardano, MD, FACOG, FACS


I asked Father William Kuchinsky, a holy priest and member of our board to respond to you and this is his answer:

"One may be forgiven by going to confession for using the grave evil of IVF. One should be contrite: that is one of the elements needed before the tribunal of God in the Sacrament of Confession. (doesn’t not have to be “perfect contrition”) m The firm purpose of amendment, not to practice IVF again is also to be present. As you may know, during most IVF procedures "extra" embryonic children not used for implant can or will be killed or used for scientific experimentation. Thus contributes to the grave nature of using IVF in the first place. Re: the love of the child. The Good Lord also loves the child! But the ends, as they say, don’t always justify the means. In the realm of feelings it may be hard to separate things but the love for the child doesn’t exclude being contrite for the sin of practicing IVF (which also includes an element of fornication/adultery in the sense of the donated sperm, and also purposely denying the child the benefit of a father in the very process of IVF should be considered) (Note: although any number of babies end up being aborted in this process I do not think that excommunication is a penalty attached to IVF although going through with the procedure knowing that it is almost a sure thing that fertilized ovum will be discarded – aborted in a manner of speaking – is a serious sin that could exclude one from Heaven . . . ) In short: no excommunication, a good confession with all the elements present (contrition/sorrow to some degree, firm purpose of amendment, etc) is all that is needed to be reconciled to God and His Church (no need to have excommunication lifted as there is no excommunication), and yes, despite the sin rejoicing in the baby created in the image and likeness of God (in a less than romantic manner) is only right. Father K

I hope this response helps.



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