Southern Baptist Convention Votes To Oppose IVF As Not ‘God-Honoring’

Southern Baptists skew white and conservative. Here, messengers are seen raising their ballots in support of a motion put up for vote at the Indianapolis conference this week.

The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution Wednesday opposing the use of in vitro fertilization to conceive children, suggesting it is not a “God-honoring” process and that the U.S. government should thus work to “restrain” it.

The move is notable amid the ongoing right-wing war against reproductive health care. Since the rightward-leaning Supreme Court abolished nationwide abortion rights two years ago, conservatives have sought to limit access to medication that helps prevent pregnancies and medication that helps end them, even though the drugs have long been shown to be safe and effective.

Southern Baptists are the largest protestant denomination in the country. As a demographic, they skew white and Republican.

The vote was held at an annual pastors’ conference, which took place this year in Indianapolis.

One attendee, Daniel Taylor of Charity Baptist Church in Paris, Michigan, stood to recount how difficult — but ultimately fulfilling — it was for a Christian couple he knew to conceive their child through IVF.

“The child who was born was a gift from God,” Taylor said. “His life has so enriched us all … because of him, I thank God for IVF.”

But attendees rejected Taylor’s proposed amendment to the resolution that would allow the procedure under certain circumstances in which embryos were not destroyed.

The process of IVF involves fertilizing an egg in a laboratory setting; the resulting embryo can then be frozen for transfer into a patient’s uterus if it is deemed viable. Some religious conservatives, particularly those who believe life begins from the moment an egg is fertilized, have voiced opposition to the IVF process because it results in some embryos being either destroyed or used for medical research.

As a nation, though, Americans overwhelmingly support the widespread availability of IVF treatments.

Southern Baptists skew white and conservative. Here, messengers are seen raising their ballots in support of a motion put up for vote at the Indianapolis conference this week.

Doug McSchooler via Associated Press

Earlier this year, Alabama’s Supreme Court sparked a crisis in the Republican Party when it ruled that fertilized embryos are living children under state law — forcing Alabama lawmakers to clarify in a bill that providers of IVF treatments have civil and criminal “immunity.”

The Southern Baptists’ vote indicates that religious opposition to IVF is not dissipating.

“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 measure states.

“Though all children are to be fully respected and protected, not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God-honoring or morally justified,” it says.

The Southern Baptists resolved 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.”

They also called on congregants “to advocate for the government to restrain actions inconsistent with the dignity and value of every human being, which necessarily includes frozen embryonic human beings.”

The resolution offered adoption as an alternative to IVF.

Southern Baptists also narrowly rejected a proposal that would have cemented in their constitution a ban on churches led by women pastors.

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