In 1987 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a document known as Donum Vitae ("The Gift of Life"), which addressed the morality of many modern fertility procedures. Donum Vitae teaches that if a given medical intervention helps or assists the marriage act to achieve pregnancy, it may be considered moral; if the intervention replaces the marriage act in order to engender life, it is not moral.
One reproductive technology which the Church has clearly and unequivocally judged to be immoral is in vitro fertilization or IVF. In vitro fertilization brings about new life in a petri dish. Children engendered through IVF are sometimes known as "test tube babies." Several eggs are aspirated from the woman's ovary after she has taken a fertility drug which causes a number of eggs to mature at the same time. Semen is collected from the man, usually through masturbation. The egg and sperm are ultimately joined in a glass dish, where conception takes place and the new life is allowed to develop for several days. In the simplest case, embryos are then transferred to the mother's womb in the hope that one will survive to term.
In IVF, children are engendered through a technical process, subjected to "quality control," and eliminated if found "defective." In their very coming into being, these children are thoroughly subjected to the arbitrary choices of those bringing them into being. In the words of Donum Vitae: "The connection between in vitro fertilization and the voluntary destruction of human embryos occurs too often. This is significant: through these procedures, with apparently contrary purposes, life and death are subjected to the decision of man, who thus sets himself up as the giver of life and death by decree." The document speaks of "the right of every person to be conceived and to be born within marriage and from marriage." To be within and from marriage, conception should occur from the marriage act which by its nature is ordered toward loving openness to life, not from the manipulations of technicians.
The dehumanizing aspects of some of these procedures are evident in the very language associated with them. There is the "reproductive technology industry." Children are called the "products" of conception. Inherent in IVF is the treatment of children, in their very coming into being, as less than human beings.
Taken from USCCB Document: “Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology” by John M. Haas, Ph.D., S.T.L.