The majority of couples who enter IVF programmes (some 80% according to
British figures) do not take home a baby. We are concerned that an
unethical and highly unsuccessful procedure has been promoted at the
expense of alternative treatments for infertility, for example,
microsurgery to repair blocked fallopian tubes (which even IVF
practitioners have admitted to be far more successful than IVF).
Long-term research is lacking into the physical and psychological
development of children conceived in IVF, and into the effects on
couples for whom the procedure proves unsuccessful.
Although the plight of infertile couples has been the principal device for generating sympathy for IVF, the practice and promotion of the technique has encouraged a tendency to regard children as commodities rather than as a gift. The human right to found a family means that couples have the freedom to reproduce, but not an entitlement to produce children by any possible means. It is unjust to claim rights which deny the true rights of the child, particularly the right to life and the respect due to human beings from conception.
Excluding the human embryo and foetus from this consideration cannot be justified either by scientific evidence (which, in fact, confirms the humanity of the embryo) or by appeal to technological advances which make embryo experiments possible. The use of technology must be made to conform to ethical principles, not vice versa.
Embryo freezing has also led to the problem of what is to be done with embryos whose parents cannot be traced or who cannot be transferred to their natural mother. There is no obvious right answer to this problem. Pro-life ethicists have discussed the alternatives of keeping the embryos frozen (perhaps indefinitely), allowing the transfer of embryos to "host mothers," or thawing the embryos and allowing them to die. SPUC submits that the problem must be dealt with at its root by banning embryo freezing.
Unlike adoption, which is a humane solution to the inability of the
natural parents to care for a child, surrogacy deliberately brings
about a separation between genetic parenthood and the gestation and
raising of the child. To complicate a child's identity in this way is
seriously objectionable. It also demeans the surrogate mother and
encourages a perception of children as a commodity. The same objection
applies to the use of ova or sperm from donors.
We have opposed moves to undermine the legal principle of consent to the use of gametes, since the removal of a person's sperm or ova without their consent is an abuse of their bodily integrity, and could facilitate the production of large numbers of embryos for experimentation.