Michigan court denies benefits to children conceived through in vitro fertilization

In a 6-1 ruling, the Michigan Supreme Court sided with the Social Security Administration Friday by denying survivor benefits to twins conceived through in vitro fertilization weeks after their biological father passed away in 2001. The court argued that the twins were not their father’s legal heirs because they were conceived after his death, which legally terminated his marriage to their mother.

At its core, this is a gut-wrenching story. It’s bound to stir up emotions on both sides of the political spectrum, as it highlights some tough realities we as a society must face.

Inasmuch as we must pray for this family, what is truly unpalatable about this entire situation is that a woman, ostensibly under the watchful eye of a medical practitioner, was implanted with the sperm of a man who was already dead.

The Catholic Church teaches this to be morally wrong. And for good reason. According to Fr. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, the Director of Education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center, in vitro fertilization “undermines the meaning of sex” and “violates the exclusivity of the couple’s marriage covenant.” What in vitro fertilization basically says is that it is “okay to manufacture life in a laboratory as if it were a commodity.”

Now, it may well be the case that this couple – like thousands of other couples – was infertile and that they never intended to undermine the meaning of sex, but as Pope Paul VI wrote in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae,we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions.” There’s no question that those limits were breached in this instance.

Pope Benedict has re-iterated the Church’s condemnation of artificial means of conception. In February, he urged couples to shun the arrogance associated with in vitro fertilization when he told a conference at the Vatican that “the human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a ‘product,’ but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual.” The lifelong “union of a man and a woman” is “the only worthy place for a new human being to be called into existence.”

Regrettably, I anticipate that legal cases such as this will begin to occur more frequently. We are eschewing the dignity of human life in favor of a false concept of progress and sooner or later we are going to pay for it. As Robert Bork would say, we are slouching towards Gomorrah.



  • abadilla

    I don’t think the sins of the parents should be imputed on the children because the children are always innocent of the circumstances in which they were conceived. I uphold the teaching of the Church 100% but once a child is conceived and comes into this world, he or she should not have to pay for the mistakes or moral flaws of his or her parents. I have taught two students with two moms. I deplore such unions and believe they are morally wrong according to Church teaching, but I would never discriminate against those children because they are not in anyway guilty of the circumstances in which they were born. To discriminate against those children is absolutely wrong to me, and I say so with an informed conscience.
    Ideally, we are all supposed to be the product of love. Well, I’m not, but I don’t believe that makes me any less lovable in God’s eyes and the same goes for children conceived in ways that are not moral at all!

  • Grisha357

    Regardless of how they were conceived, Mallory and Michael are God’s children. God forbid the Church would side with the heartless burearucrats at Social Security. Care for widows and orphans is a major theme throughout the Bible. Hopefully a higher court will overturn this decision. If we ask “what would Jesus do, I don’t think there is any question He’d decide in favor of the children~ Greg Smith



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