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Today, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) — one of the largest and most vocal Evangelical groups in the United States — voted to approve a resolution condemning In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). This resolution echoed language found within the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year: that embryos created through IVF are to be protected under the Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, effectively classifying fertilized eggs as children.

SBC members shared their personal experiences with IVF, and there were attempts made to soften the language surrounding this resolution. As a group that witnesses the joys and sorrows of fertility each day, we understand that IVF is a heavily emotional experience for all involved.

What is still lacking in this decision remains the understanding of the IVF process and embryo viability. Freezing embryos, a common practice in fertility treatments, does not guarantee a successful pregnancy. Many embryos are not viable; implanting such embryos could likely result in miscarriage. The requirement, implied, for individuals to use all their embryos regardless of viability, is not only scientifically misguided but also ethically questionable, adding layers of emotional and physical distress to what is often already a taxing journey.

We understand that the SBC does not speak for all Evangelical voices in this country. Pew Research studies from last May showed that 63% of white Evangelicals think IVF is a good thing. We also see that the SBC continues to shrink, dropping again for the 17th year in a row.

Headlines from the last decade reflect that as the SBC continues to double down in its “Conservative Resurgence,” more and more churches are leaving the convention and breaking ties. We also know that the SBC and voting members don’t speak for an entire faith, let alone speak for the individual members within their churches.

However, this vote and how it was handled is alarming. Amendments to be more inclusive and understanding for women who have undergone IVF were rejected. This action resembles what we’re seeing in conservative politics across the nation.

We’re increasingly concerned for those within the SBC and within areas where the SBC holds weight — specifically the Bible Belt of America. Rejecting the scholarship around IVF leads to complications for the fertility industry and countless individuals struggling with infertility. It blurs the lines of personhood at its most nascent stage, setting a precedent that threatens to severely restrict access to vital fertility treatments and challenges individuals’ autonomy over their bodies and futures. It also adds to the risk of criminalizing the dedicated medical professionals who are their allies in the quest for family.

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