Bishop Michael F. Burbidge:
‘Each life has immeasurable value from moment of conception’

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge speaks at Virginia Pro-Life Day Feb. 21, 2024. (Photo/Michael Mickle)

As chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington, released a statement March 8 in response to the growing spotlight on assisted reproductive technologies. Here is the full statement:

The national conversation in the news about laws related to in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other technologies creates an opportunity and a necessity to speak about protecting the gift of life itself. Each of our lives has immeasurable value from the moment of conception.

In this way, we know that the deeply-rooted desire to bring about new life by having children is good. As priests and bishops, we grieve with and accompany in hope and love the increasing number of families suffering with an experience of infertility. We also encourage restorative, often-overlooked, treatments that can help to address the root causes of infertility.

It is precisely because each person’s life is a unique gift that we cannot condone procedures that violate the right to life or the integrity of the family. Certain practices like IVF do both, and they are often not effective even for their own purposes.

Children have a right to be born to their married mother and father, through a personal act of self-giving love. IVF, however well-intended, breaches this bond and these rights and, instead, treats human beings like products or property. This is all the more true in situations involving anonymous donors or surrogacy.

This of course does not mean that our brothers and sisters who were conceived by IVF are somehow “less than” anyone else. Every person has immeasurable value regardless of how he or she was conceived – and that applies, absolutely, to all children created through IVF, the majority of whom have not been and may never be born.

The fact is that, in the IVF industry, many embryos are never transferred to a mother’s womb, but are destroyed or indefinitely frozen, and, of those who are transferred, only a fraction survive to be eventually born. All told, there are millions of human beings who have been killed or potentially permanently frozen by this industry.

This cannot be the answer to the very real cross of fertility challenges. In efforts to bring about new life, we cannot turn our face from the many more lives that are cut short and extinguished in the process.


Read about the Alabama Supreme Court ruling on Feb. 21, 2024, that frozen embryos are children.

Read about the bill passed in Alabama to protect IVF after the ruling.


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