An Overview of the Embryo Adoption Debate

Document Type


Publication Date



In vitro fertilization (IVF) is opposed by the Catholic Church because it replaces the conjugal act. However, IVF has resulted in an ethical issue that the Catholic Church does not have a clear position on. What to do with the undesired cryopreserved embryos resulting from the IVF process? The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in its 2008 instruction on certain bioethical questions Dignitas Personae, commented on three proposals on what to do with them and stated that the situation for abandoned embryos “cannot be resolved.” But what about those not abandoned but undesired? Even before the issuance of Dignitas Personae, a debate developed regarding the third proposal of embryo adoption, which continues unresolved. We will explore the embryo adoption debate from 2007-2018 through the arguments of fifteen authors, with eight of them arguing not in favor of it and seven arguing in favor.