Largest Protestant US group condemns IVF in win for anti-abortion movement | US news

The largest Protestant group in the US has condemned the use of in vitro fertilization, a move that is sure to inflame the already white-hot battle over IVF and reproductive rights in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v Wade.

On Wednesday, during the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting, delegates voted in favor of a resolution that urges Southern Baptists “to reaffirm the unconditional value and right to life of every human being, including those in an embryonic stage, and to only utilize reproductive technologies consistent with that affirmation”.

The resolution in effect calls on the Southern Baptist Convention – a group that includes nearly 50,000 churches and almost 13 million members – to avoid IVF.

The success of the resolution is a major victory for the anti-abortion movement, swathes of which have long opposed IVF on the grounds that providers create embryos that are not implanted in a woman’s uterus or are set aside after being screened for genetic anomalies. It also advances the tenets of “fetal personhood”, a movement to enshrine embryos and fetuses with full legal rights and protections that, if fully enacted, would rewrite vast swaths of US law.

The Catholic church already officially opposes IVF, but the issue has not historically loomed as large among Protestants. Majorities of both white non-evangelical Protestants, white evangelical Protestants, and Black Protestants all support access to IVF.

The Wednesday resolution suggests that this support may be in flux, since the Southern Baptist Convention has long been seen as a barometer of US evangelicalism and its future.

IVF has been in the national spotlight since the Alabama state supreme court ruled earlier this year frozen embryos qualify as “extrauterine children”, a decision that led many IVF providers in the state to temporarily cease work. Although the 2022 overturning of Roe v Wade cleared the way for attacks on IVF, many in the state and across the country were shocked by the ruling and its implications.

This week, the US Senate is expected to vote on a bill that would codify a federal right to IVF. Although the bill is not expected to pass, Democrats in the Senate are hoping to get Republicans on the record opposing an infertility treatment that is widely popular.

As part of the anti-IVF resolution, the Southern Baptist Convention called on its members to “promote” adoption.

“Couples who experience the searing pain of infertility can turn to God, look to Scripture for numerous examples of infertility, and know that their lament is heard by the Lord, who offers compassion and grace to those deeply afflicted by such realities,” the resolution added.

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