The high cost of assisted reproductive technologies

The desire to be a parent is natural to our being and runs so deep that bearing the cross of infertility can leave couples with a devastating longing. This devastation is a reality for about nine percent of men and 11 percent of women. Amid this painful longing, too often couples seeking answers and options are placed on the assisted reproduction track—a dangerous and expensive endeavor that generates many ethical dilemmas—with the promise that the couple can create (or even design) a child.

More than financial cost

During the 2023 legislative session, a bill, S.F. 1704, nearly passed that would mandate insurance coverage by large group health plans for infertility and fertility preservation services, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), for married couples who have tried to conceive naturally for six to twelve months depending on the woman’s age, for single individuals, or for same-sex couples. No exemptions exist for companies or organizations who do not agree with these controversial practices. Fortunately, this bill did not make it to the finish line. It is bound to re-emerge in 2024.

Were this bill to pass, a single person or gay or lesbian couple would be granted insurance coverage to create a family by way of technology, contrary to how God intended the family unit to grow. Obvious ethical concerns are present in these instances, such as selling sperm and egg cells, the renting of women’s wombs as surrogates, and intentionally creating circumstances in which a child is separated from the parents who share the child’s DNA.

Mandating insurance coverage will impact insurance premiums across the board. It often takes three to four IVF cycles on average before a viable pregnancy is achieved. One cycle can cost between $15,000 and $30,000 depending on the clinic and the individual health needs of the patient. Multiplying that by three cycles, insurance companies are looking at a $45,000 to $120,000 price tag. But the great financial cost is just one negative facet of this bill. 

Begotten Not Made

The root issue is the human cost – the lives created and intentionally killed or abandoned and the disruption of the natural marital act. The Church raises ethical concerns about assisted reproduction such as IVF, which creates an excess of embryos, as written in Dignitas Personae: “The process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos . . . [and] subsequent experience has shown, however, that all techniques of in vitro fertilization proceed as if the human embryo were simply a mass of cells to be used, selected, and discarded.” Concerns are also raised about genetic screening and testing so that the “best” embryo is implanted into the mother’s womb, tantamount to eugenics.

For married couples, it is good to try to overcome obstacles that may be preventing the conception of a child, and there are many incredible medical advances that are morally licit for married couples. In the document Donum Vitae the Church teaches that if a given medical intervention helps or assists the marital act in achieving pregnancy, then it is moral. If the intervention replaces the marital act, it is not moral.

July 23-29 is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week – a great time to learn about the morally licit means available to couples trying to overcome infertility. To learn more, visit:

To stay up to date on the Minnesota Legislature’s attempts to mandate insurance coverage for unethical fertility treatments and more, join the Catholic Advocacy Network at

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