I am wondering what the church’s position is on left over embryos that have been frozen from IVF. After years of infertility, I was finally able to conceive the most beautiful boy. However, we have several frozen embryos left. I am now 49 years of age and although I would love another child I don’t know if it would be wise to pursue another pregnancy with the frozen embryos or if I should discard them or donate them for embryo adoption. I have fasted and prayed earnestly but still feel lost.
Thank you for your very personal question. I commend you on seeking out an answer from our Father in Heaven through fasting and prayer.
I will focus my response on your initial question: “I am wondering what the church’s position is on left over embryos that have been frozen from (In Vitro Fertilization) IVF ?”
When it comes to deeply personal questions like this in life, there typically tends to be a wrestling and waiting period as we look for our answers. I believe the Lord wants us to be committed to earnestly seeking out his will for us individually. This process requires work on our behalf. In part, I feel this is necessary so that once we have reached our final conclusion, we can not look back upon it in regret from being hasty, ill informed or simply choosing the easiest option at the time. This process of pondering, seeking and waiting will hopefully allow you to feel confident in the knowledge that you have chosen the best course of action for you personally and that your choice lines up with the will of the Lord.
When it comes to the question of In Vitro Fertilization we will turn to Church Handbook 2 under 21.4 Policies on Moral Issues for some guidance. Here we read the following on this subject:
21.4.7 In Vitro Fertilization
The Church strongly discourages in vitro fertilization using semen from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.
In the same line of thought, we also read:
21.4.13 Sperm Donation
The Church strongly discourages the donation of sperm
21.4.3 Artificial Insemination
The Church strongly discourages artificial insemination using semen from anyone but the husband. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife. Responsibility for the decision rests solely upon them.
Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved. Single sisters who deliberately refuse to follow the counsel of Church leaders in this matter are subject to Church discipline.
Apart from these statements above, most readily available material on this subject appears to fall into the category of “personal opinion” versus the “Church’s position”.
Here are some observations that I gather from the quotes above:
1. The use of the wording “strongly discourages” versus a definitive “thou shalt not”. We only find Church discipline associated with artificial insemination of single sisters.
2. Once we see the Church’s position of “strongly discourages”, we then see that the choice is ultimately given to the individual/couple: “However, this is a personal matter”.
3. Lastly, we see that responsibility of that choice “rests solely upon them (the couple/individual).”
In simple terms: Here is the Church’s advice but the choice is yours. When it is said and done, like all choices the results of that choice rest upon you.
When it comes to your specific question about what to do with “leftover embryos”, my understanding from the quotes above is that the Church “strongly discourages” their donation thus pointing you in the direction of discarding them. This choice, ultimately being one you and your husband should make and take responsibility for.
Thank you again Amy for your question. I wish you the best moving forward in this process and have full faith that once the time is right, you will know which course of action is best for you and your husband.