Is it ok to use fertility drugs and artificial insemination to conceive a child?

Many couples experience the heartbreak and disappointment of being unable to conceive a child. While the Church encourages research that may help them to conceive, it also notes that some medical interventions available today are contrary to Catholic teaching. In the understanding of the Church, procreation and union are the twin purposes of sexual intimacy; conceiving a child is uniquely and necessarily linked to the loving sexual union between its mother and father. Any procedure that disassociates the procreative act from the sexual act is in violation of Church teaching. This rules out artificial insemination, even when the sperm and egg belong to the married couple, because of the involvement of third parties (doctors and technicians) in the procreative act. A child comes into the world as the fruit of its parents’ sexual love for each other; the intervention of other parties cannot have the same meaning as that act of love. On the other hand, fertility drugs may be used to stimulate ovulation and help a married couple conceive through intercourse. Other morally acceptable procedures include surgery to correct tubal blockages in the reproductive system and timing intercourse to coincide with the most fertile days of the wife’s menstrual cycle.

As devastating as infertility can be for a couple, it does not mean that they cannot have a loving and fruitful union. The Church encourages those who have exhausted morally legitimate procedures and still cannot bear children to be co-creators with God in other ways, through adopting children or through loving service to those in need.

from Neela Kale and the Busted Halo Question Box

Neela Kale

Neela Kale

Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.