Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
Singer Céline Dion reportedly is pregnant for a second time with a child conceived through in vitro fertilization.
According to a report in People magazine, Dion learned yesterday that “she and her husband, [René] Angélil, 67, conceived with the help of a team of fertility doctors in New York.”
Dion is one of 14 children born to a large Catholic family in Quebec, and her first child, René-Charles, was baptized at Montreal’s Notre Dame Cathedral in July 2001, six months after his birth. The Catholic Church teaches that in vitro fertilization is intrinsically immoral, even when utilized within a marriage to fertilize eggs harvested from the wife with the husband’s sperm as in the case of Angélil and Dion.
States the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that ‘entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children’” (No. 2377).
Along with the moral unacceptability of disassociating the act of conception from the marital sexual act, IVF treatments routinely involve the creation of multiple human embryos and either the freezing or killing of these so-called “surplus” embryos. The Church condemns both options as grave offenses against the dignity of the human person.
When Dion conceived her first child through in vitro fertilization in 2000, she subsequently disclosed that a second embryo conceived at the same time had been frozen at the Manhattan clinic where the IVF procedure was carried out. Today’s People article about her second pregnancy did not indicate whether it involved this embryo or whether additional embryos were conceived through more recent IVF procedures.