A court ruled embryos are children. These Christian couples agree yet wrestle with IVF choices.


When faced with infertility, Amanda and Jeff Walker had a baby through in vitro fertilization but were left with extra embryos — and questions. Tori and Sam Earle “adopted” an embryo frozen 20 years earlier by another couple. Matthew Eppinette and his wife chose to forgo IVF out of ethical concerns and have no children of their own.

All are guided by a strong Christian faith and believe life begins at or around conception. And all have wrestled with the same weighty questions: How do you build a family in a way that conforms with your beliefs? Is IVF an ethical option, especially if it creates more embryos than a couple can use?

“We live in a world that tries to be black and white on the subject,” Tori Earle said. “It’s not a black-and-white issue.”

The dilemma reflects the age-old friction between faith and science at the heart of the recent IVF controversy in Alabama, where the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos have the legal status of children.

The ruling — which decided a lawsuit about embryos that were accidentally destroyed — caused large clinics to pause IVF services, sparking a backlash. State leaders devised a temporary solution that shielded clinics from liability but didn’t address the legal status of embryos created in IVF labs. Concerns about IVF’s future prompted U.S. senators from both parties to propose bills aiming to protect IVF nationwide.

Laurie Zoloth, a professor of religion and ethics at the University of Chicago, said arguments about this modern medical procedure touch on two ideas fundamental to the founding of American democracy: freedom of religion and who counts as a full person.

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