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Frozen Embryos and Embryo Adoption


In order to carry out in vitro fertilization (IVF), doctors obtain ova from the mother and sperm cells from the father and cause their fusion in a petri dish outside the bodies of the spouses. One of the resulting embryos is transferred to the motherís uterus. If all goes well, the embryo will mature normally within the motherís womb. Typically, technicians cause the fertilization of several ova, choose the embryo they think has the best chance of survival, and freeze the rest (by cryopreservation). After successful implantation of an embryo occurs, the remaining embryos are discarded.

Frozen embryos are produced using immoral means (IVF). Yet by the fact of their existence, these tiny human beings have the right to life. They cannot be destroyed or experimented on, nor can they be left frozen. While moral theologians work on a solution, faithful Catholics are free to propose possible solutions within the moral framework provided by the Church.

Some moral theologians and ethicists have proposed embryo adoption, whereby the frozen embryo is implanted in an adoptive motherís womb. However, embryo adoption is not a simple solution, and requires answers to several significant moral questions.

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