Infertility pp 73-92 | Cite as

Donum Vitae: Catholic Teaching Concerning Homologous In Vitro Fertilization

  • William E. May
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 53)


July 25, 1978 is a memorable date. First of all, it marked the tenth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on marriage, Humanae Vitae, in which he affirmed that “there is an unbreakable connection [nexu indissolubili] between the unitive meaning and the procreative meaning [of the conjugal act], and both are inherent in the conjugal act. This connection was established by God, and Man is not permitted to break it through his own initiative” (Paul VI, 1968, n. 12). The significance of Pope Paul’s claim for assessing the morality of homologous in vitro fertilization will be a matter of central concern in this paper. This date is further notable in that it is the birthday of Louise Brown, the “test tube” baby, the miracle child of modem reproductive technology. Louise was the first baby to be born after having been conceived outside her mother’s body. Her birth, and indeed her conception, would not have been possible had the technology separating “baby making” from “love making” — the procreative and unitive meanings of the conjugal act — not been developed.


Human Life Embryo Transfer Married Couple Human Person Laboratory Generation 
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

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  • William E. May

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