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August 04, 2006




I would like to thank you, Jimmy, for always providing such wonderfully thought-out replies to people's inquiries into the moral and social dilemmas they face. We should count ourselves lucky that there are people like you out there who take the time to crank these replies out when folks really seem to need them. (And for letting the rest of us read your replies.)

My prayers for you and for that family.

Ken Crawford

Another avenue for this couple to consider if they continue to be uncomfortable with the contraceptive side-effects of the drugs is abstinence. If they were to abstain from sex while she was taking the drugs it would completely clear up any gray areas regarding contraception.

Cajun Nick


I want to echo Jason's comments. I continue to check your blog, not for the Sci-Fi and sundry elements(though I enjoy those, too), but for your always insightful, sincere answers to questions such as the current topic.

I don't know how I came across your website, but I am certainly glad to have found it. (I think that it was through Fr. Bryce Sibley's now-defunct A Saintly Salmagundi.)

God has always seemed to find a way to steer me appropriately in the Faith; and I have no doubt that you are part of his plan for me and many, many others.

I pray for you, for your correspondents, and for everyone at Catholic Answers.


By the way, do we know that the contraceptive effect of the drugs is not a means to this therapeutic end?

Maybe they should ask the doctor if the fact that the drugs prevent pregnancy is one of the reasons for taking the drugs, or if it is completely irrelevant. It sounds from the post like it may be irrelevant, but that was not explicitly stated.

But Ken is right: abstinence would clear any moral dilemma. Though that can be a big decision too. And Jimmy did say that "the fact that you are infertile renders the question moot."


I know of a couple who have thirty frozen embryos (conceived "in vitro" from their own ova and sperm). The woman is unable a pregnancy to carry to term. They are contracting with a surrogate mother.





Trust in God. Listen to your wife.Prayers and sacrifices. Have you ever thought about adoption(real one)?
God bless,


What is meant by "a set" of embryos?


My mostly uneducated response:

I think a "set" of embryos means that they implant more than one just to increase the odds that at least one will make it. But I think that pro-life people don't ever implant more than they are willing to carry (2 or 3) in hopes that they all live.


Hoping this isn't a Rule 20 violation....

Would another option for this couple be to track the woman's cycle by using the Sympto-Thermal method of NFP? It's possibly something their doctor has not heard of, and therefore not considered. Then all questions would be covered.

Kevin Cary

I second momof6's comment. There are three independent methods of tracking a woman's fertility and determining her peak fertile time. Most doctors are horribly ignorant of NFP and a woman's cycle. This doctor may not have heard about it nor understand how it works. It would completely clear up any confusion regarding the morality of the hormones and would probably allow the couple in question to know even more accurately when the wife's fertility is at the peak (the doctor would be making an educated guess based on when her period comes if the hormones are used, he wouldn't know for sure).


CaeliDS -

Regarding what is meant by a set - This may or may not be the technical term, but when the embryos are frozen, they are typically frozen in "batches" of 3 - 5. When transfered, the entire group is thawed, and those that survive are transfered into the womb of the adopting mom.



Thank you, Tim, but that seems to underscore the concern I related on another posting about the morality of such an implantation. Thawing the embryos seems to deliberately bring about the death of at least some of the embryos. Although the goal (implanting the surviving embryos) is good in itself, the means seem problematic to me.


Thawing the embryos seems to deliberately bring about the death of at least some of the embryos. Although the goal (implanting the surviving embryos) is good in itself, the means seem problematic to me.

1. It is possible that all of them will survive. There was another combo boxes where a couple told how the clinic had thawed four, expecting one or two, but they all had, how many did they want?

2. It is an alternative to a certainly lethal situation. It might, for instance, be morally obligatory to throw babies from a burning building, if there was a chance they would survive the fall and no other chance of a rescue.

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