What is the Position of the Catholic Church on Organ Donation?


Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II both agree that it is the responsibility of doctors and scientists to determine the exact moment of death. In addition, the United States Catholic Bishops Conference asserted that the determination of death should be made by the physician or competent medical authority in accordance with responsible and commonly accepted scientific criteria (Ethical and Religious Directive, no. 62). To this end, a working group of doctors and scientists assembled by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gave this clinical definition of death: “a person is dead when there has been total and irreversible loss of all capacity for integrating and coordinating physical and mental functions of the body as a unit” (1989, p. 81). The Church teaches that when an indisputable pronouncement of death has been made, donation of organs can commence. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent (no. 2296). Pope John Paul II vigorously affirmed that a beautiful act expressing the culture of life “is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope” (“Evangelium Vitae,” No. 86).

The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) based on the principle of totality (body parts are ordered for the good of the whole, and may be disposed of, if necessary, for the good of the whole) affirm that organ donations from the living is a noble and charitable act, while specifying at the same time that the donation will not sacrifice or seriously impair and essential functioning of the donor. It added that to avoid conflicts of interest the physician determining death ought not be a member of the transplant team (Directives, 64). May (2011) observed that the morality of the self-giving of vital organs depends on how the acting person relates himself in his freely chosen act to the great goods of healthy functioning and life itself. If the harm (including the mutilation) suffered by the donor — but in no way intended either by him or those involved in the transplant — does not impair his functional integrity, the evil suffered is an unintended side-effect of an act of self-giving, a morally good act. However, were the donor’s own functional integrity and hence his own health and life to be impaired, it would be wrong for him to choose to give it because the means he would choose, endangering his own health and life, is bad although intended for a good end, but one can never intend or choose evil for the sake of good to come. In all, the Catholic Church applauds and encourages organ donation as a morally good act of self-giving.

How does the Magisterium of the Catholic Church view research on embryos obtained through In Vitro Fertilization?

According to Donum Vitae: Human embryos obtained in vitro are human beings and subjects with rights: their dignity and right to life must be respected from the first moment of their existence. It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable “biological material”. In the usual practice of in vitro fertilization, not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman’s body; some are destroyed. Just as the Church condemns induced abortion, so she also forbids acts against the life of these human beings.

It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained ‘in vitro’ for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial insemination of by means of “twin fission”.

By acting in this way the researcher usurps the place of God; and, even though he may be unaware of this, he sets himself up as the master of the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills defenseless human beings.

Methods of observation or experimentation which damage or impose grave and disproportionate risks upon embryos obtained in vitro are morally illicit for the same reasons. Every human being is to be respected for himself, and cannot be reduced in worth to a pure and simple instrument for the advantage of others. It is therefore not in conformity with the moral law deliberately to expose to death human embryos obtained ‘in vitro’. In consequence of the fact that they have been produced in vitro, those embryos which art not transferred into the body of the mother and are called “spare” are exposed to an absurd fate, with no possibility of their being offered safe means of survival which can be licitly pursued.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect For Human Life In Its Origin And On The Dignity Pf Procreation Replies To Certain Questions Of The Day, #5.


Is prenatal testing allowable by the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church?

According to Donum Vitae: For prenatal diagnosis makes it possible to know the condition of the embryo and of the fetus when still in the mother’s womb. It permits, or makes it possible to anticipate earlier and more effectively, certain therapeutic, medical or surgical procedures. Such diagnosis is permissible, with the consent of the parents after they have been adequately informed, if the methods employed safeguard the life and integrity of the embryo and the mother, without subjecting them to disproportionate risks.

But this diagnosis is gravely opposed to the moral law when it is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion depending upon the results: a diagnosis which shows the existence of a malformation or a hereditary illness must not be the equivalent of a death-sentence. Thus a woman would be committing a gravely illicit act if she were to request such a diagnosis with the deliberate intention of having an abortion should the results confirm the existence of a malformation or abnormality. The spouse or relatives or anyone else would similarly be acting in a manner contrary to the moral law if they were to counsel or impose such a diagnostic procedure on the expectant mother with the same intention of possibly proceeding to an abortion. So too the specialist would be guilty of illicit collaboration if, in conducting the diagnosis and in communicating its results, he were deliberately to contribute to establishing or favoring a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion. In conclusion, any directive or program of the civil and health authorities or of scientific organizations which in any way were to favor a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion, or which were to go as far as directly to induce expectant mothers to submit to prenatal diagnosis planned for the purpose of eliminating fetuses which are affected by malformations or which are carriers of hereditary illness, is to be condemned as a violation of the unborn child’s right to life and as an abuse of the prior rights and duties of the spouses.


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Respect For Human Life In Its Origin And On The Dignity Pf Procreation Replies To Certain Questions Of The Day, #2.


Is Condom Use Morally Justified for Serodiscordant HIV Couples?

HIV/AIDS has continued to ravage developing countries of the world especially Sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa generates no more than 1 percent of the total wealth produced in the world. Yet it is the home of 10% of the world’s population, lives on 1% of the global economy, and carries 68% of the world’s HIV/AIDS burden. WHO estimates that in 2014 only about 41% of people living with HIV were able to access life-saving medications. Given the epidemic nature of this disease and the lack of cure, is condom use morally justified to prevent the spread of the disease in serodiscordant couples? The Church teaches that condoms and all other related methods of birth control sever the unitive and procreative significance inherent in the marital act. Humanae Vitae prohibits “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation” (no. 14). In addition, the U.S Catholic Bishops assert that “The use of prophylactics to prevent the spread of HIV is technically unreliable. Moreover, advocating this approach means in effect, promoting behavior which is morally unacceptable. Campaigns advocating ‘safe/safer’ sex rest on false assumptions about sexuality and intercourse.”

However, Pope Benedict XVI, in his 2010 book-length interview, “Light of the World,” hypothesized that use of a condom to prevent infection could be a first step toward moral responsibility. He used the example of a male prostitute. The Pope’s remarks have been criticized by some as a deviation from the Church’s position on contraception and supported by numerous moral theologians and ethicists. On Dec 21, 2010 Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) expounded on the Pope’s remarks and stated that “those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behavior which has repercussions on public health.” The Note concludes that “those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity.” Similarly, the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (who carry the greatest burden of HIV/AIDS) asserted in the 2001 pastoral letter that in a case of a married serodiscordant couple, the use of condom to prevent the spread of the disease to the spouse was acceptable. This position was based on the principle that everyone has the right to defend one’s life against mortal danger. Furthermore, moral theologians and ethicists argue that “a married man who is HIV-infected and uses the condom to protect his wife from infection is not acting to render procreation impossible, but to prevent infection. If conception is prevented, this will be an –unintentional – side-effect and will not therefore shape the moral meaning of the act as a contraceptive act” (Rhonheimer, 2004). These views are anchored on two moral principles: Lesser of Two Evils and Double Effect. Finally, the Church has always taught that individuals can follow their well-formed consciences in difficult situation:  “Catholics with a well-formed conscience can decide to use contraceptives ‘in cases of particular emergency.'” This decision must follow only after a “serious discernment of conscience” (National Catholic Reporter, Feb, 2016).

“Can a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus abort the fetus?”

Answer: The question can be answered from legal and ethical standpoints. To begin with the legal, in the United States, since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion at the federal level, each state has responded with its own legislation regulating abortion. In general, most current U.S. states allow abortion before the fetus gets 20 to 24 weeks old (around the end of the second trimester). Thus, the pregnant woman diagnosed with the Zika infection can get an abortion within the state’s jurisprudence. On the other hand, abortion is legally permitted in the period later than the legal period, typically when the mother is in a dire medical condition. Thus, it is unlikely that this legal exception applies to the pregnant woman with the Zika infection because it is not the woman’s health that is in peril. Some states allow the late-term abortion in the case of an extreme fetal deformity; it is up to the state’s decision whether or not the Zika-infected, microcephalic fetus belongs to that category though we do not believe it is the case.

To discuss the case from the ethical perspective, we need to frame the question within the reasoning of a particular ethical tradition. As our society is getting more religiously and culturally diversified, many different ethical traditions co-exist in the U.S. However, let us confine our response to the ethical framework of one particular tradition, which is the Roman Catholic tradition. The Church understands a “human person” to begin at conception and thus even a zygote is called a “mono-celled person” who holds the same dignity and sanctity as adult human beings. Accordingly, abortion in any embryonic or fetal developmental stage is morally prohibited. However, as in the case of law, this general moral principle is overridden when the mother’s life is in danger. The Church sees it as morally justifiable to save the mother with the death of the fetus/embryo as the unintended consequence. However, the Church nuances the verdict that, while a direct killing of the fetus is never permitted, the death of the fetus occurs in the way of saving the mother’s life as an act “not intended but merely foreseen.” Also, the Church emphasizes that the justifiable act of killing should be evidenced by a proper technical medical procedure that fits in with the category. However, one seeming controversy is that a further rule or principle is not shown why the justifiable act of killing is made in favor of saving the mother, not the fetus. It is neither that the fetus is less human person than the mother, nor that the fetus’s personhood is “potential” while the mother is “actual.” Both persons are actual human beings with the same degrees of dignity and sanctity. Then, why save the mother, not the fetus? The Church calls for “conscience” as the moral judge that determines in this type of case.

Critics argue that, since one’s conscience can voice a different opinion from that of another’s conscience, the Church has practically opened the possibility that two opposing moral solutions are possible for the same case. Thus, one can decide to save the mother or the fetus based on one’s own conscience. To say further, the Church condones the faithful to do whatever they want based on their arbitrary feelings. Then, in our case, the Zika-infected pregnant woman’s abortion in any stage is ethically permissible.

However, this is a misleading understanding of the nature of conscience. While it is admitted that a theological discussion on conscience must be furthered, the Church’s use of conscience is not to endorse or secretly allow the arbitrariness, but to explain the nature of its theological moral reasoning. In all ethical cases, relevant general moral principles should be upheld. However, there are moral dilemmas, that is, the cases where two or more moral principles or rules are in conflict. And in the cases of moral dilemmas, conscience decides which principle should be prioritized over the other. Since conscience is largely of human reason, it has a direction. Thus, it does not provide arbitrary verdicts. On the other hand, conscience as a pathway to God’s will implies the element of divinity, so it demands one’s obedience. In sum, conscience is “rational-divine moral intuition” bound to generate similar solutions for similar cases. For example, when the pregnant mother’s life is in danger, the moral intuition dictates that “Save the life of a dying adult person” should be balanced over against “Do not kill the life of an unborn person.” And all similar cases like this should be treated in this manner.

In the case of the pregnant woman with the Zika infection, at least three moral rules are relevant: “Do not kill the life of an unborn person,” “Do not put a financial burden on a society to care for mentally retarded babies,” and “Do not put a financial as well as emotional burden on an adult person to care for mentally retarded babies.” According to the Church, it seems unlikely that conscience, our moral intuition, decides in the way that the first rule trumps the other two in cases like this; nor is found a theological precedent that endorses moral prioritization in favor of the first rule against the two. Therefore, Pope Francis emphasizes that abortion is absolutely not permitted when fight the Zika virus.

What is the Catholic Church’s position on extraordinary/ordinary means of treatment and care?

Declaration on Euthanasia:


Today it is very important to protect, at the moment of death, both the dignity of the human person and the Christian concept of life, against a technological attitude that threatens to become an abuse. Thus some people speak of a “right to die,” which is an expression that does not mean the right to procure death either by one’s own hand or by means of someone else, as one pleases, but rather the right to die peacefully with human and Christian dignity. From this point of view, the use of therapeutic means can sometimes pose problems. In numerous cases, the complexity of the situation can be such as to cause doubts about the way ethical principles should be applied. In the final analysis, it pertains to the conscience either of the sick person, or of those qualified to speak in the sick person’s name, or of the doctors, to decide, in the light of moral obligations and of the various aspects of the case. Everyone has the duty to care for his or he own health or to seek such care from others. Those whose task it is to care for the sick must do so conscientiously and administer the remedies that seem necessary or useful. However, is it necessary in all circumstances to have recourse to all possible remedies? In the past, moralists replied that one is never obliged to use “extraordinary” means. This reply, which as a principle still holds good, is perhaps less clear today, by reason of the imprecision of the term and the rapid progress made in the treatment of sickness. Thus some people prefer to speak of “proportionate” and “disproportionate” means. In any case, it will be possible to make a correct judgment as to the means by studying the type of treatment to be used, its degree of complexity or risk, its cost and the possibilities of using it, and comparing these elements with the result that can be expected, taking into account the state of the sick person and his or her physical and moral resources. In order to facilitate the application of these general principles, the following clarifications can be added: – If there are no other sufficient remedies, it is permitted, with the patient’s consent, to have recourse to the means provided by the most advanced medical techniques, even if these means are still at the experimental stage and are not without a certain risk. By accepting them, the patient can even show generosity in the service of humanity. – It is also permitted, with the patient’s consent, to interrupt these means, where the results fall short of expectations. But for such a decision to be made, account will have to be taken of the reasonable wishes of the patient and the patient’s family, as also of the advice of the doctors who are specially competent in the matter. The latter may in particular judge that the investment in instruments and personnel is disproportionate to the results foreseen; they may also judge that the techniques applied impose on the patient strain or suffering out of proportion with the benefits which he or she may gain from such techniques. – It is also permissible to make do with the normal means that medicine can offer. Therefore one cannot impose on anyone the obligation to have recourse to a technique which is already in use but which carries a risk or is burdensome. Such a refusal is not the equivalent of suicide; on the contrary, it should be considered as an acceptance of the human condition, or a wish to avoid the application of a medical procedure disproportionate to the results that can be expected, or a desire not to impose excessive expense on the family or the community. – When inevitable death is imminent in spite of the means used, it is permitted in conscience to take the decision to refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted. In such circumstances the doctor has no reason to reproach himself with failing to help the person in danger.

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia, May 5, 1980

What is the Catholic Church’s position on suicide and Physician-Assisted Suicide?



Human life is the basis of all goods, and is the necessary source and condition of every human activity and of all society. Most people regard life as something sacred and hold that no one may dispose of it at will, but believers see in life something greater, namely, a gift of God’s love, which they are called upon to preserve and make fruitful. And it is this latter consideration that gives rise to the following consequences:

  1. No one can make an attempt on the life of an innocent person without opposing God’s love for that person, without violating a fundamental right, and therefore without committing a crime of the utmost gravity.[4]
  2. Everyone has the duty to lead his or her life in accordance with God’s plan. That life is entrusted to the individual as a good that must bear fruit already here on earth, but that finds its full perfection only in eternal life.
  3. Intentionally causing one’s own death, or suicide, is therefore equally as wrong as murder; such an action on the part of a person is to be considered as a rejection of God’s sovereignty and loving plan. Furthermore, suicide is also often a refusal of love for self, the denial of a natural instinct to live, a flight from the duties of justice and charity owed to one’s neighbor, to various communities or to the whole of society – although, as is generally recognized, at times there are psychological factors present that can diminish responsibility or even completely remove it. However, one must clearly distinguish suicide from that sacrifice of one’s life whereby for a higher cause, such as God’s glory, the salvation of souls or the service of one’s brethren, a person offers his or her own life or puts it in danger (cf. Jn. 15:14).

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Euthanasia,
May 5, 1980

 II.  Catechism of the Catholic Church:


2276 Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible.

2277 Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded.

2278 Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of “over-zealous” treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one’s inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected.

2279 Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged.


2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.


Is the Catholic Church against all forms of stem cell research?

The answer is No. The Catholic Church is only against some forms of Embryonic Stem Cell Research (ESCR) that entail the destruction of human embryos. Stem cells are cells that develop very early in the human embryo after fertilization. Stem cells “have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. In addition, in many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells as long as the person or animal is still alive. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential either to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell, or a brain cell” (National Institute of Health, Stem Cell Basics, 2015). Proponents of ESCR believe it has the potential of being a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues that could treat plethora of diseases such as Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, burns, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and many more. They argue that since ESCR hold these “great” potentials, it is justified to experiment on embryonic stem cells retrieved by any means available (induce abortion of early embryos to retrieve their stem cells, produce/create embryos in vitro for the sole purpose of research, use “leftover” embryos from in vitro fertilization (IVF) and so on. The end in this context justifies the means. On the contrary, the moral objection to some forms of ESCR stems from the fact that stem cells harvested from living 3-5 days old embryos (blastocysts) will ultimately result in the destruction of a young human being. This objection against ESCR does not imply opposition to stem cell research generally. Most types of stem cell research (especially adult stem cell research) and morally acceptable forms of ESCR are encouraged. Stem cells can be derived from these morally acceptable sources: Embryonic Germ Cells (from miscarriages or spontaneous abortions and not elective abortions), Umbilical Cord Stem Cells, Placenta-derived Stem Cells, Post-Natally Derived (Adult) Stem cells, De-Differentiation Strategies (provided it doesn’t go so far as to make a human embryo), and Reprogramming Strategies (as long it generates a distinctly non-embryonic entity).

The Church’s objection to some forms of stem cell research is expressed in Donum Vitae no. 4: “Medical research must refrain from operations on live embryos, unless there is a moral certainty of not causing harm to the life or integrity of the unborn child and the mother, and on condition that the parents have givers their free and informed consent to the procedure. It follows that all research, even when limited to the simple observation of the embryo, would become illicit were it to involve risk to the embryo’s physical integrity or life by reason of the methods used or the effects induced. As regards experimentation, and presupposing the general distinction between experimentation for purposes which are not directly therapeutic and experimentation which is clearly therapeutic for the subject himself, in the case in point one must also distinguish between experimentation carried out on embryos which are still alive and experimentation carried out on embryos which are dead. If the embryos are living, whether viable or not, they must be respected just like any other human person; experimentation on embryos which is not directly therapeutic is illicit. (29) No objective, even though noble in itself, such as a foreseeable advantage to science, to other human beings or to society, can in any way justify experimentation on living human embryos or fetuses, whether viable or not, either inside or outside the mother’s womb” (Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, 1987).

What is the position of the Catholic Church on Natural Family Planning?

Natural family planning (NPF) or “periodic abstinence” according the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods rely on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples seeking to avoid pregnancy through NPF abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. NPF does not require the use of drugs, devices or surgical procedures to be effective in avoiding pregnancy. NPF “reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NPF can enrich the bond between husband and wife” (USCCB, Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p.23).

The Catholic Church supports and approves of NPF because it respects the ends of marriage (unitive and procreative). From the beginning of creation, God designed marriage as an intimate partnership of life and love between a man and a woman for the whole of life (Gaudium et spes, 48; Code of Canon Law, n. 1055). Therefore, the fecundity of marriage and responsible parenthood demand that husband and wife embrace the sacred responsibility of deciding when and how many children to have in marriage. Pope Paul VI wrote “if there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile…” (Humanae Vitae, 16). NPF or “recourse to the rhythm of the cycle” as John Paul II calls it, is open to love and life. It conforms to the culture of life and the civilization of love that characterize the sacrament of marriage. The Second Vatican Council advocates that “parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love” (Gaudium et spes, 50). The Catholic Church therefore condemns unnatural forms of birth control and approves the use of NPF where there is a sufficient reason to avoid or postpone pregnancy. The Church warns against selfishness in family planning and recommends that “it must be done with respect for the order established by God” (Humanae Vitae, 16)

Is Surrogate Motherhood Ethical for the Roman Catholic Church?

No, for the same reasons which lead one to reject heterologous artificial fertilization: for it is contrary to the unity of marriage and to the dignity of the procreation of the human person. Surrogate motherhood represents an objective failure to meet the obligations of maternal love, of conjugal fidelity and of responsible motherhood; it offends the dignity and the right of the child to be conceived, carried in the womb, brought into the world and brought up by his own parents; it sets up, to the detriment of families, a division between the physical, psychological and moral elements which constitute those families.

* By “surrogate mother” the Instruction means:

  1. a) the woman who carries in pregnancy an embryo implanted in her uterus and who is genetically a stranger to the embryo because it has been obtained through the union of the gametes of “donors”. She carries the pregnancy with a pledge to surrender the baby once it is born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy.
  2. b) the woman who carries in pregnancy an embryo to whose procreation she has contributed the donation of her own ovum, fertilized through insemination with the sperm of a man other than her husband. She carries the pregnancy with a pledge to surrender the child once it is born to the party who commissioned or made the agreement for the pregnancy.


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction On Respect for Human Life In Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation Replies to Certain Questions of the Day.