In vitro fertilization. IVF. According to Wikipedia, is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a liquid in a laboratory. The fertilized egg (zygote) is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy. But that’s not why it’s a controversial subject, especially here in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
In order to increase the chances of the success of the IVF procedure, the stimulation that causes the woman to ovulate usually results in several eggs, sometimes as much as 15 or so, being harvested from the body. All of the eggs are then fertilized and the majority are frozen for future procedures while three or four are implanted in the womb in the hopes that at least one will develop into a baby.
Kato itself practiced minimally stimulated IVF, where only a few eggs are harvested then fertilized. In any case, the fertilized eggs are sorted into good, better, and best when it comes to quality. And when implanted, eggs of varying quality can be placed into the womb or if desired, all of the best ones only.
What is controversial is this: one of the beliefs of the Catholic faith is that the moment an egg is fertilized, it is already considered a person and already has a soul. Because of this, if an IVF procedure is performed, the remaining fertilized ova are required to be set aside through freezing and should be used later on. Otherwise, if they are discarded, it is considered to be an abortion and is sinful.
This is aside from the fact that IVF eliminates the part where the child is conceived through an act of love between the married couple, but instead done through a laboratory procedure. This alone is considered immoral by the Church.
When we were told to proceed to Kato that morning, we didn’t even know the details about the Church’s stance on IVF. We just wanted to have the procedure done within the narrow window of fertility that we had that day. And with the apprehension and fear in our hearts, we still pushed through with that appointment.
To be continued.