2021-03-30 10:00:00

Polarized opinions on acceptability of in vitro fertilization observed in Russian Orthodox Church

Moscow, March 30, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church has failed to reach an agreement on the issue of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

The period the Church was given to discuss with the public a document on softening the position of the Russian Orthodox Church on in vitro fertilization has ended on Monday. The document, posted on the official website of the Church in early February, suggests updating its stance on this reproductive technology with regard for the development of medicine in the past twenty years.

In particular, it proposes regarding as acceptable in vitro fertilization in which the production of excess embryos, their freezing, fetal reduction, donation of germ cells, and pre-implantation diagnostics are ruled out.

In the meantime, participants in the meeting of the Church-Public Council on Biomedical Ethics held at the end of last week disagreed with their opponents' attempt to legalize IVF technology in believers' consciousness.

"A group of clergymen and laymen who want to change the position of the church [...] on IVF and agree to a compromise with the wishes of women and men to have children using achievements of technological progress has been organized in our church," the Church-Public Council said in a statement.

The authors of the document believe that all "acceptable" methods chosen by the group of activists, instead of direct destruction of unneeded embryos, include direct and clear consent to their possible death for many reasons, including the number of IVF attempts, selective approach, loss of fetus at any pregnancy stage, etc.

"Informing patients, their consent and their liability waiver in tragic cases are stated in an official legal document called 'informed consent.' Thus, all supporters of this manipulation knowingly agree to the possibility of deaths of embryos and human fetuses [...] The Church should not become another 'informed participant' in knowing consent to the death of human embryos," the Church-Public Council said.

The authors of the statement also expressed concern that formal support for IVF will promote legalization in the eyes of the Orthodox community of other extracorporeal fertilization methods, which they said is "a direct path to eugenics, which was practiced in Nazi Germany and was condemned in the Nuremberg trials."