In vitro fertilization is one of the most advanced and impressive human endeavors, yet it is also among the most controversial, as others reject it for religious or ethical reasons. It is indeed true that a country’s policy is often influenced by the predominant religion, and while they try to convince us there is indeed a separation of Church and State, facts seem to say otherwise. In this article we’ll have a short look at IVF concept in different religions, see how they are influenced by assisted reproduction and how they themselves influence it.
IVF concept in different religions differs from ideology to ideology; for example, Christianity has divided opinions, depending on its divisions. The opinions of the Catholic Church on IVF and its subjects’ reproductive functions are probably well-known by most people. They vehemently oppose abortion, any contraceptive measure and, of course, they oppose IVF or any kind of assisted reproduction. Embryo freeze and preservation, as well as mother surrogacy are also frowned-upon by the Catholics.
The Eastern Orthodox Church, while being a bit more permissive, allows for medical treatments and surgeries that prevent or cure infertility, but it does not agree to IVF, sperm donation, surrogate motherhood and so on. The Anglican Church seems to be a bit more relaxed, since they allow for in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproduction methods, but they do not agree with gamete donation.
We’ve seen IVF concept in different religions, these being Western predominant religions. Now we’re going to see what Eastern religions say about IVF. Perhaps because it believes in reincarnation and is mostly manifested as a polytheist religion, Hinduism agrees with most assisted reproduction methods, but they only allow them within a married couple, who need to use their own eggs and sperm, and not purchase some from donors. Sperm can be donated, but only by a close relative of the husband. Hinduism is also accepting of abortion, and adoption of children from large families is seen well.
We can’t help but notice that IVF concept in different religions other than our Western ones, seem to be more permissive and allow for more freedom to their followers. Perhaps because it too believes in reincarnation, Buddhism also accepts in vitro fertilization, sperm donation and other forms of assisted reproduction. They do not even restrict this option to married couples; any couple or single person can choose to go through with it. Perhaps Westerners can learn a thing or two about acceptance from older, wiser religions than our own.