Although the rate of conception is very high with in-vitro fertilization (IVF), successful embryo transfer (ET) and implantation is much more difficult and is usually the stage at which the procedure fails.

A fertility clinic often speaks of its high pregnancy rate, which usually refers to the chemical pregnancy in the fist few days, but the implantation rate is much lower, miscarriages occur and the actual “take home baby rate is lower still. This is the rate the couple needs to know but often isn’t told. It is now thought that the current worldwide “take home baby” rate is only 12 per cent to 15 per cent. Thus at least 85 per cent of IVF and ET attempts are unsuccessful.

Many couples do not understand these figures, which makes “informed consent” difficult. IVF seems the magical solution. They feel, “This is our last change, our only hope.”
It is of vital importance that couples think though al the ethical dilemmas of spare embryos, multiple pregnancies and selective fetal reduction before they actively use Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Rate of loss

In fact over 95 per cent of the embryos created through IVF do not survive to become infants. For those who equate the value of an embryo with that of a human person, this rate of loss is clearly overwhelming.

It has been found that if multiple embryos are transferred into the uterus, the patient is more likely to become pregnant. Inserting more than one embryo, however, does increase the chances of having a multiple pregnancy.

I cannot cheer the woman who has eight fetuses growing. They will all die. How many embryos have been placed in her? Ten? Too often many are transferred and then quietly “reduced.”
Susan Martinuk. Vancouver freelance writer and speaker: The death of large numbers of embryos is a common occurrance in fertility clinics…The only thing that is really “newsworthy” about the current situation in Britain is the somewhat surprising response from the public. People actually seem chocked that a medical procedure creates thousands of spare human embryos to, in effect, “sit on the shelf” in a laboratory freezer.
Good. The ethical issues which surround the topic of what to do with the “spare embryos” have been around for a long time [18 years] and embryos are destroyed every day. Yet it has taken the large-scale destruction of embryos to make those things real to us.

For the most part, society has chosen to support medical technology while turning a blind eye to the uncomfortable issues that stem from its use. But now we have seen that bizarre scenarios such as the mass destruction of human embryos are not just science fiction. If we don’t think that is acceptable, then we need to say so. Maybe some good can come from this.

The Cathechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

2376: Techniques that entail the dissocation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral.

2377: Techniques involving only the married couple…are perhaps less reprehensible yet remain morally unacceptable. They disassociate the sexual act from the procreative act.

2378: A child is not something owed to one, but a gift.

The official statement on Reproductive Technology by the Ethics Committee of the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada (CMDS), reads in part:
”Only technology that uses the genetic contribution of a man and woman within the marriage bond is acceptable. The genetic material must derive from husband and wife, with transfer to the genetic mother…The ethical ideal stated by this conclusion is jeopardized significantly by technical difficulties…Surrogate motherhood violates the marriage bond.”

Dr. Suzanne Scorsone, Director of the Office of Family Life for the Archdiocese of Toronto and a member of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies:

The Catholic community recognizes that, “Sex is too important to be bypassed or replaced. We are pro-sex.

“The Donum Vitae (Gift of Life) recognizes that infertility treatments that assist the normal marital relationship are acceptable. Ones that alter or frustrate (physically or relationally) are not (such as third party).”