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Southern Baptists Plan to Vote on Whether to Oppose I.V.F.

U.S.Southern Baptists Plan to Vote on Whether to Oppose I.V.F.

Southern Baptists will vote on whether to oppose in vitro fertilization when they meet in Indianapolis for their annual meeting in June, as anti-abortion activists seek to gain new ground after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

It will be the first time that the largest Protestant denomination in America will ask representatives of its tens of thousands of member churches to consider such a proposal, according to Southern Baptist Convention officials. The outcome of the vote could lead to a declaration that I.V.F. is morally unacceptable, advancing the “fetal personhood” movement and causing turmoil for evangelical families who rely on fertility treatments.

Until now, when it comes to pregnancy, a primary focus of the denomination has been working to end abortion. When Southern Baptist leaders released on Friday the slate of pending resolutions that delegates will consider next month, one on the list would lay groundwork reminiscent of an Alabama Supreme Court justice’s ruling earlier this year, saying that under the state’s laws, frozen embryos are to be considered children.

The resolution, titled “On the Ethical Realities of Reproductive Technologies and the Dignity of the Human Embryo,” calls on 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.” That language would essentially ask church members to reject in vitro fertilization, because the standard medical protocol for I.V.F. typically includes the creation of more embryos than may ultimately be implanted in a woman’s uterus, and the embryos are screened for serious genetic defects.

“Not all technological means of assisting human reproduction are equally God-honoring or morally justified,” the proposed resolution states. “In vitro fertilization most often engages in the destruction of embryonic human life, and increasingly engages in dehumanizing methods for determining suitability for life and genetic sorting, based on notions of genetic fitness and parental preferences.”

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