Religion and Assisted Reproduction

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Assisted reproduction is one of the most controversial medical techniques, from both religious and ethical points of view. Mainly, religion and assisted reproduction don’t get along, especially in regard to Christianity and other Western religions. Most vehement against any types of assisted reproduction is the Catholic Church, which is also renowned for its harsh views on homosexuality, sex changes, and abortion and contraceptive measures.

The main problem with religion and assisted reproduction is that Christianity considers birth to be directly related to God’s wish. If He does not want a couple to have children, then He will make them barren, infertile. Medicine coming with these means of reversing infertility or with in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and others is something Christianity considers blasphemous, playing God. Catholicism, but Orthodoxy and Protestantism as well, are concerned with the status of the soul in a baby born through assisted reproduction, since it was not God that begot that child, but man.

While Catholicism forbids most, if not all of these methods like artificial insemination, sperm and egg donation, egg cryopreservation and so on, Orthodoxy and Protestantism agree with medical treatments and surgery that may help with fertility issues; however they too frown upon in vitro fertilization, blastocyst transfer and other methods.

In the Eastern world, religion and assisted reproduction seem to have a better relationship. Hinduism for example, while limiting in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproduction methods to married couples, allows for sperm donation from a close relative of the husband. Otherwise, the married couple must rely on their own eggs and sperm. Hinduism also agrees with adoption, especially when the children come from very large families with no means of supporting them all.

Among all religion and assisted reproduction, Buddhism has to be the most permissive so far. They believe that each individual has the right to opt for assisted reproduction if they so wish; they don’t need to be married or in a couple and they can accept egg or sperm donation. Judaism, for example, states that it is man’s duty to protect and preserve our reproductive health, so assisted reproduction is a good thing. Other Judaists though, consider that surrogacy should be forbidden because a woman shouldn’t be made to give up on her child. As we can see, the views religions have on assisted reproduction vary largely, mostly depending on each religion’s ideology. Add to that other ethical and moral questions, and you can see why these methods are so controversial.