Seminary/School of Divinity



Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work



Paul Wojda

Second Advisor

Paul Gavrilyuk

Third Advisor

Peter Laird


According to the University of Michigan's department of Stem Cell Research, in the United States alone, there are as many as 400,000 embryos which have been created in laboratories and are now abandoned to a suspended frozen existence. According to the same source, thousands of unused human embryos are disposed of every year. The majority of these embryos, which will be the focus of this paper have been created by doctors for couples who wish to conceive by in vitro fertilization. When a couple opts for in vitro fertilization, multiple embryos are created and implanted to ensure a higher success rate of pregnancy. When the couple decides that their family is complete, they are left with the heart-wrenching decision of what to do with the extra embryos: keep them frozen at a high financial price, discard them, donate them to research, or donate them to other couples who wish to have children. In this paper, we will examine the morality of embryo adoption in light of the Catholic tradition. This is a new and controversial issue, and one which has moral theologians both perplexed and divided. We shall present both sides of the issue, examine magisterial documents regarding biomedical morality, and use the evidence to demonstrate that embryo adoption through heterologous embryo transfer is a morally permissible act.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.