Southern Baptist Convention Condemns IVF: Advocates for Alternatives and Adoption

The Southern Baptist Convention voted to condemn in vitro fertilization (IVF) and praised congregants using alternative fertility therapies or adopting frozen embryos. The resolution underscored the destruction of embryos as a key concern, reaffirming the church's stance on the sanctity of life. The decision reflects complex political dynamics post-Roe v. Wade.

Reuters | Updated: 13-06-2024 00:30 IST | Created: 13-06-2024 00:30 IST
Southern Baptist Convention Condemns IVF: Advocates for Alternatives and Adoption
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The Southern Baptist Convention on Wednesday voted at its annual meeting to condemn the use of in vitro fertilization and commend its congregants who use alternative fertility therapies or adopt frozen embryos. With the vote on the use of in vitro fertilization, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. weighed in on an issue that conservatives across the United States have seen can have political pitfalls in the volatile landscape created by the overturning of Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Earlier at the meeting at which issues affecting women have been prominent, a proposed amendment to the church's constitution that would have banned women as pastors fell just short of the two-thirds majority vote it needed to pass. The IVF resolution before the thousands of leaders gathered in Indianapolis noted the searing pain infertile couples encounter, but made plain that "not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God-honoring or morally justified."

IVF involves combining eggs and sperm in a laboratory dish to create an embryo for couples having difficulty conceiving. The resolution states that the IVF process routinely creates more embryos than can reasonably be implanted and that naturally leads to the ultimate destruction of hundreds of thousands of frozen embryos, which the church considers sacred life.

The resolution called on "Southern Baptists to reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation ..." In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos should be considered children. The ruling arose from lawsuits by three families against Alabama fertility procedure providers accused of failing to properly safeguard frozen embryos, resulting in their destruction when a patient improperly accessed them.

The court ruling was based on an amendment to the Alabama state constitution approved by voters in 2018 that made it official policy to uphold "the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children." The court ruling left unclear how to legally store, transport and use embryos. Democrats portrayed Alabama's all-Republican high court as bent on further restricting women's ability to make choices about reproduction following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that toppled Roe, abolishing women's constitutional right to abortion.

Republicans faced backlash nationwide, even as some particularly conservative members of the party continued to question IVF procedures. In Alabama, the Republican-led state legislature passed measures aimed at protecting IVF providers from both criminal charges and civil lawsuits, and the Republican governor quickly signed them into law, prompting Alabama providers who had halted the IVF procedure following the court ruling to resume offering the treatment.

In Washington, Republican senators blocked Democrats' attempt to guarantee access to IVF treatments, saying the proposal went too far. In May, Brent Leatherwood, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's public policy Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, wrote U.S. senators to urge more robust oversight of the IVF process.

"A human embryo is a life. This life is as deserving of protection and all the standards of care we would give to a child or an adult," Leatherwood wrote. "In the post-Roe moment we find ourselves in, we must make the most of this opportunity to stand for life in all its forms."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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