Those who practice the Greek Orthodox Church are a special group, and the way that they look at In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Cryopreserved Embryos is a fascinating topic. It is important to consider that an embryo has a human beginning, and human perspective. It is also important to consider the fact that many Protestant churches are more liberal about the traditional treatment of infertility.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
Assisted reproduction (ART) is a medical method of creating life by combining the sperm of a man and the egg of a woman in a lab. In the Orthodox Church, IVF is not accepted. However, many Orthodox countries are in favor of ART. The Greek fertility sector is an international hub for ova, and serves the demands of Europe.
Some countries have been reluctant to enter into such matters. In Greece, the law is not very effective and there is no real register of ova donors. Instead, appointments are arranged by scouts who receive payments from clinics.
The Orthodox Church has made an effort to impose a clear ethical framework for ART, arguing that the main moral problem associated with IVF is its destruction of part of the embryo.
Embryo has human beginning and human perspective
Embryos have a human beginning, albeit one that is not always clearly defined. Scientists are not exactly on the same page when it comes to when new human life begins, but most agree on the cell membrane fusion of sperm and egg that forms the foetus.
The first cell division occurs in the first 24 hours of a person’s life, but many die before this milestone is reached. After this, the embryo starts self-replication within minutes. The genome of the embryo determines most of its future bodily functions.
It is also possible for an embryo to survive in vitro, after it has been implanted into a woman’s uterus. During this period, the embryo is safe from harm. Several studies have shown that a single cell human zygote is a living organism, with the potential to become an adult human.
Thousands of frozen embryos have been stored for more than three decades. The number of embryos stored has been estimated to be between 400,000 and 500,000. Some of these are being used for research, while others are being kept for future cycles.
Assisted reproduction is an ethically controversial practice. The Orthodox Church, for example, teaches that human life begins at conception. Despite this, some Catholics would permit the donation or adoption of an embryo.
In Greece, the fertility sector is growing and adapting to the demand for ova and genetic material from an increasingly international client base. In response to this demand, the state has passed laws allowing for wider access to assisted reproduction.
The problem facing the fertility clinics is what to do with “spare” embryos. These are embryos that have been left over after a transfer has been made. Whether they should be destroyed, donated or thawed is a complex legal issue.
Traditional infertility workup and treatments are encouraged
Among the many religions, the Orthodox Church has a different position on assisted reproduction. The Orthodox Church does not forbid medical treatment of infertility but does not support assisted reproduction.
ART is not for the faint of heart. It is a grueling and emotional cycle that leaves couples wondering whether their future child will be healthy. Despite these challenges, ART can be an effective way to conceive a child, especially if a surrogate mother is used. However, genetic risks are not always considered when using donated gametes.
In the Orthodox church, the best medicine is prayer. The best infertility treatment is also prayer. This is because it dispels illusions. In addition, a reputable faith leader can help assure the preservation of assets.
Protestant churches have more liberal attitudes towards traditional treatment of infertility
Despite the fact that most Christian denominations accept the traditional treatment of infertility, their attitudes about assisted reproductive technologies vary. Some denominations advocate for embryonic stem cell research and some are outspoken opponents. The Catholic Church is the only one that has publicly stated a negative opinion on IVF.
The relationship between religion and attitudes toward IVF is weaker than that of abortion. While the Roman Catholic Church has been outspoken in its opposition to human embryo procedures, other denominations have been more lenient. Some Jewish groups advocate for ESC research.
The Anglican Church allows physicians to collect sperm after masturbation and may also practice assisted reproductive technology. The Eastern Orthodox Church, on the other hand, does not accept assisted reproductive techniques. It does not permit embryo donation or surrogate motherhood. In addition, it does not accept fertilization techniques that result in surplus embryos.