Hard Questions: Rape? Ectopic? What about IVF? – Stephanie Gray Connors

This weeks episode is a rebroadcast of Mark’s interview with Stephanie Gray Connors, Co-founder of the Canadian Center for Bio Ethical Reform.

Stephanie is an international speaker, debater, and author of several books including Love Unleashes Life and Conceived by Science.

You can purchase her books here:


On this episode, you’ll be inspired by one of the world’s foremost pro-life apologists as she discusses abortion, infertility and invitro fertilization.


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Mark Harrington (00:10):

Activist Radio, The Mark Harrington Show is brought to you by Created Equal and you can support our work and the ministry by going to Mark Harrington show.com. You can just click on the donate link and I’ll ask you to also share the program, comment on the program and like the program. And we are on all the popular podcasting platform. So today my guest is Stephanie Gray, and Stephanie is an international speaker, debater and author. She’s also a good friend of mine. I met her in 1999 going way back when I was with the Center for Bioethical Reform. And we visited the University of British Columbia with our genocide awareness project, and Stephanie was a student there leading a student for Life organization. And as they say, the rest is history because we spent several years traveling together on college campuses in North America with the Genocide Awareness Project. And so I’ve known Stephanie for over 20 years now and she’s become a mother. So thanks for joining us, Stephanie. I appreciate you being on the show.

Stephanie Gray Connors (01:21):

Thank you, Mark. Yeah, shout out to Students for Life of America. Those who are viewing this can see I’m wearing my strong as a pro-life mother. So yes, my little one’s having a nap right now.

Mark Harrington (01:33):

Well, I’ve always known you as Ms. Gray. Now I have to refer to you as Mrs. Gray Connor, Stephanie Gray, Connors. That’s right. I’m so thankful that you’ve become a mother and I’m your little daughter is very beautiful. Violet Grace. Let’s tell us the story of Violet Grace because I think that fits well with the conversation we’re going to have today.

Stephanie Gray Connors (01:56):

It does, yes. I mean, we’ll be talking about my latest book on infertility and IVF conceived by Science. And my own story is that I got married later in life at 40 and my husband and I weren’t sure if we’d conceive as much as we wanted to and we were blessed to conceive right away. And then very sadly, we miscarried our first child when we got pregnant again, a friend recommended, several friends actually recommended I get my progesterone levels checked because if your levels are too low, you could miscarry. When I had my levels checked, we saw that my progesterone was dropping, which meant we could have miscarried our second baby. And so I immediately contacted a dear friend of mine who’s responsible for setting up my husband and I as she’s a pro-life speaker. Many know Lila Grace Rose, and I contacted Lila and I’m like, Lila, do you know any doctor in restorative reproductive medicine who can help connect me with progesterone and to supplement my levels? And so immediately within the hour, she connected me to an amazing pro-life physician, Dr. George Delgado. And so I credit Dr. Delgado and Lila and then a physician, Dr. Lamu in Florida for saving my baby’s life because then I was immediately put on a progesterone prescription, which I needed until the 23rd week of pregnancy in order to keep Violet alive. So when we named her, we named her Violet Grace in order to provide some honor to Lila by sharing the same middle name.

Mark Harrington (03:20):

It’s such a cool story, Stephanie. We’re so happy for you and your lovely daughter. So let’s jump in here. I want to cover a couple of topics. The first of course is abortion. You’ve written your book Love Unleashes Life. That’s actually the name of your ministry as well. But I want to talk a little bit about abortion, give some of our listeners and viewers a little bit of a primer on some of the hard cases because we don’t have a lot of time to go into real depth here. And then I want to talk about your new book, which is Conceived by Science. I’ve picked it up, I’ve read it. I took notes and I have questions for you. So we’re going to spend a lot of time on this one as well. But let’s start out with your book, love Unleashes Life, and let’s see here, the Abortion and the Art of Communicating Truth.


That’s the subtitle. So let’s just start in with some of the tougher questions or comments that people have. The one that comes up most often by pro-abortion advocates is this, what about in the case of rape? Wouldn’t you justify abortion if someone was raped? I’ve often had people come up and say, if you have a daughter, which I do, and she’s 23 now, but if your daughter was raped and she got pregnant, would you decide to have an abortion or have her have an abortion? Of course, I say no. I mean, I don’t know what they expect me to tell them. I mean, I’m a pro-life activist. I’m not going to murder my daughter or my granddaughter. But anyway, they do ask that a lot. And that is one that people have trouble answering. How do you answer that?

Stephanie Gray Connors (05:03):

Sure. I think the first place I typically begin is to acknowledge that that is an injustice. The violent active rape isn’t evil, it’s terrible, and we need to offer support and compassion to victims of sexual assault. I then propose a question, which is this, is it fair to give the death penalty to the innocent child? So indeed, the rape is an injustice, but abortion is as well the rape victim. The woman is innocent, and the preborn child is innocent as well. The guilty party is the rapist, and giving an abortion to the innocent child is giving a consequence to an innocent party that we don’t even give to the guilty party in terms of termination of the rapist’s life, then I think it’s powerful to tell stories, and I often will tell the story of Leanna Reto. You can look her story up online for more depth, but she was essentially kidnapped and raped at the age of 12 and got pregnant and kept her baby, and then raised her daughter, and her daughter became her best friend and is so grateful that she chose life for her child even amidst brutal circumstances that her child was conceived under.

Mark Harrington (06:14):

So let’s also ask the question, what about the abortion in the case of the life of the mother when they’re threatened typically through atopic pregnancy? How would you answer that one?

Stephanie Gray Connors (06:24):

Sure. Again, acknowledging that is a difficult situation, that we want to have compassion for all parties involved. And then I would make the point that the act of abortion, because it involves direct and intentional killing that is always wrong, saying that we may not pursue abortion. It doesn’t follow, there is nothing to be done. If a woman’s life is in danger, we may intervene, but we have to choose an ethical path rather than an unethical one. So if you have, for example, a tubal ectopic pregnancy where the baby is stuck in the fallopian tube rather than transported naturally into the uterus, in that case, as the baby grows in the tube, the tube will expand and the expanding tube will eventually burst. That can kill the mom and can certainly kill the baby. So in that case, instead of directly targeting the baby’s body for destruction and death, what is an ethical response is a procedure called a salpingectomy, which is a surgery in which the section of fallopian tube is removed.


And that’s where philosophers and theologians would say this is employing the principle of double effect, where you’re not doing evil by removing the tube, you’re committing a good action removing a tube which is threatening the mom and the baby, and that good action has a good and a bad effect, a double effect. So the good effect is the mom doesn’t die because the expanding tube is no longer in her body. The bad effect is the baby dies because we lack the technology to transplant the baby somewhere else, but the baby doesn’t die because we directly targeted the baby’s body for destruction, but rather because we have yet to advance enough technologically to have an alternative environment to sustain the child’s life in. And not being able to save a child is very different from directly killing a child. And abortion is the latter. It’s directly killing. So that’s always wrong.

Mark Harrington (08:13):

And I think this is really important for our listeners and viewers to understand. We often hear pro-life advocates saying that abortion is justified in the case of threatening the life of the mother, they’ll just say it’s okay. In fact, legislation is written even to permit that procedure to take place. This is different. Real quickly, again, go back over it because I don’t think a lot of people understand this. The procedure, what is it called and why is it different than abortion?

Stephanie Gray Connors (08:42):

Yes, it’s really important to emphasize this. You’re right. So in the case of a tubal ectopic pregnancy, an ethical response is a salpingectomy, which is a removal of the section of fallopian tube that is expanding and threatening the two people’s lives, the pre-born

Mark Harrington (08:58):

Life, and that’s different from abortion. Why?

Stephanie Gray Connors (09:01):

So abortion directly targets the baby’s body. The targeting of the fallopian tube is the mother’s body. So there’s a difference right there. Abortion not only targets the baby’s body, but the very intention of all parties involved is to destroy and kill. There’s no abortionist who’s like, let me do an abortion to remove the child, but keep the baby alive. I mean, sometimes the baby survives of a late abortion, but that’s never the intention of the abortionist. Whereas when a woman’s life is in danger and we intervene, our intention is to save both lives. We may not succeed in fulfilling our intention because we lack technology, but we’re still aiming to try to preserve and respect two lives, and that’s just wholly different from abortion, which has no respect whatsoever for the pre-born life because it doesn’t even consider it a life. And that’s the fundamental difference.

Mark Harrington (09:51):

My guest is Stephanie Gray. She’s an author, international speaker and debater. She’s debated pro-abortion advocates for decades, including late term abortionists. She’s written a book called Love Unleashes Life, and we’re talking about that today. If you want to learn more about how to properly debate abortion and have some good communication skills, that’s the book to get love unleashes life. And you can go to love unleashes life.com. Right. Love unleashes life.com for that book. That’s right. So let’s switch gears here. You have a new book? Yeah, this is your third book. You wrote one, this will be the third. So the second was called Start With What, 10 Principles of Thinking about Assisted Suicide. This one’s about in vitro fertilization and infertility. I found the book fascinating. I know a lot of people that have struggled with this infertility for sure, and also in vitro fertilization. Let me just ask you this. Why did you write the book? Why did you feel it was necessary?

Stephanie Gray Connors (11:00):

Sure. I started being asked by audiences what I thought about IBF, and it occurred to me as I was giving my answer that there was a lot of misinformation and the lack of education on this particular topic. And because the nature of IVF on the surface is oriented towards creating life, people kind of intuitively think, oh, well, that must be right even if abortion is wrong. But if we dig a little deeper, what people don’t realize is that often children are killed in order to create other children. So we’re talking about an action which actually threatens harms and even destroys some pre-born lives. And so I thought there was a need to speak up for pre-born children who were victimized this way, but to do so in a sensitive manner, realizing that someone’s desire for children is very ordered and good, and so struggling to conceive is a very heavy cross that we need to talk about in a sensitive way. So I wanted to bring a book into the scene that reaches the mind as well as the heart and is compassionate, but intellectual at the same time.

Mark Harrington (12:08):

I think most of us know someone who has struggled with infertility, and it’s a very difficult situation. Of course, many parents go through a lot of pain if they’re unable to conceive. So we want to be sensitive to that. I think you do a great job in doing that. But I think the point that you make is very strong, and that is that pain, the pain of infertility, the inability to conceive and have a child should not justify any action to relieve the pain. In other words, no. I mean, there has to be limits to how we go about relieving that pain. I think you deal with that really well here. You talk about the idea that should we have the right to demand a child, if you would tell us a little more about that, go in depth a little more on that.

Stephanie Gray Connors (12:59):

Sure. Yeah. One of the points I wanted to get across is that as much as the desire for children is good, I make an analogy in my book with the desire for a spouse, which is also very good. And as most people will have children, most people will get married, but some people struggle to find a spouse. And I cite the case in China where decades of a one child policy and a culture that pursues prefers male children has resulted in 34 million more men than women in China. And so there are lots of documentaries you can find of men who long to have a spouse and cannot find a wife. And I use that to make the point that as much as we can have compassion on these men who desire a life partner, their desire for a good such as a spouse does not give them license to do just anything to achieve that end.


And the example I give is sadly, some men in China are pursuing human trafficking, and women are literally being kidnapped and stolen and forced into forced marriages against their will because some people want wives. And our whole point would be, whoa, a wife is a human and humans are gifts. We don’t have a right to another human. If we have a right to something, it’s because it’s an object, but we don’t have a right to a subject. A subject is a gift, and the gift giver of a subject is God, not another human being. Because if I can give you a human being, then that means I in some way possess or own that human being. That’s why slavery is wrong, because the slave owner is claiming to possess or own his slave, which means he’s superior and the slave is inferior. But we reject that notion and we say, hold on, humans are equal.


There isn’t a relationship of superiority and an inferiority. There’s one of equality. And so just as it’s not ethical for someone who desires a spouse to kidnap a woman, it would also not be ethical for someone who desires a child to kidnap a child. We all agree with that. But in the same way, I then use that as a springboard analogy to the topic of IVF in order to make the point, the desire for a child doesn’t justify the means of IVF if IVF itself is unethical. And then the whole book is unpacking the point that we do not have a right to a child. Children are a gift given from God to be received through sexual intimacy. I mean, the way God designed things was so that sex was necessary to be fruitful and multiply with in vitro fertilization. Sex is entirely unnecessary. No longer do you have a husband and wife receiving new life as a fruit of their sexual act. They essentially contract out the receipt of new life to the hands of a stranger who’s not part of their covenantal relationship, and it’s at the stranger’s hand. That new life far from being received is actually manufactured and forced into existence like an object. The key though is that life isn’t an object, that life is a subject and is our equal.

Mark Harrington (15:50):

My guest is Stephanie Gray Connors, and she’s written a new book called Conceived by Science Thinking Carefully and compassionately about infertility. And IVF. Stephanie, what’s wrong with IVF? I mean, what are the moral pitfalls regarding IVF? Because I think a lot of people don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Stephanie Gray Connors (16:09):

So there’s two ways we can come from it. And I cover both of my book. The first way is to make an appeal that would resonate with someone even if they’re not religious, and that’s to focus on the fact that IVF involves killing a lot of lives to create other lives. Typically, five, 10 or 15 embryos are created for one or two that are initially implanted. So that means you could have 3, 7, 13 embryos that are destroyed. Beyond that, not all embryos created are actually placed in the freezer because they are graded. So then one of the other problems with IVF is that it treats the human person as though they are to be graded like an essay. Embryos get letter grades. Are you an A minus? Are you AB plus? Are you AC embryo based on quality and fitness? And that sounds a lot like the type of genetic eugenics mentality we supposedly reject as a society, yet it’s alive and well when it comes to IVF.


So the other problem that even if someone’s not religious that we can appeal to is not only the killing of preborn lives, but the eugenic selection of preborn lives. The other problem is it is kind of a, you could say a betrayal of the nature of the parent-child relationship. Parents ought to nurture and protect their children, not abandon them in unsafe environments. And then there’s the whole commodification aspect of IVF, the buying and selling of humans, the use of the human person as though it is an object. And I unpack that more in the book with talk about surrogacy and the selling. People talk about sperm donors and egg donors, but in a lot of places, especially here in the United States, a more accurate term would be a sperm cellar or an egg seller. It can be very profitable. Women can get $10,000 for one session of egg harvestings.


Men can earn a thousand extra dollars a month by being sperm sellers. So there’s this commodification nature to IVF. Then there’s a more foundational religious perspective that I propose in part three of my book, which is to look at the fact very briefly that God has designed us as man and woman to come together in a communion of persons that in a sense reflect the Trinity, the Father, son, and Holy Spirit, to create life. The male and female need to come together. And when that new life first comes into existence, you have a communion of persons again, because the preborn child is beneath the mother’s heart. The problem with IVF is instead of having the communion of persons, you have total separation and disunity. The man typically masturbates and gives his seed not to his wife, but to an IVF clinic. The woman has her eggs taken out of her body instead of in her body where the sperm will seek them out, and then the child begins his life at the hands of a stranger in a glass dish. So in all situations of IVF, you have separation of each party. None have to be together with sexual intimacy, all have to be together first the man and woman, then the child within the mother. And so one is a communion of persons and one is a division of persons.

Mark Harrington (19:09):

I noticed in chapter seven you talk about, or maybe it’s chapter four, about surro sea and in vitro fertilization being a gift that people consider it a gift to the parents, but it’s really based on usefulness, and that is that the child is useful to the parent. I like the way that you contrasted adoption compared to IVF and you said adoption is ordering to the needs of the child, whereas in vitro fertilization is ordered to the ones of the parents. I think this is a key point that people that are struggling with infertility are thinking about themselves, not the child when they attempt to have a child through in vitro fertilization. So I think that’s a very strong point. Again, my guest is Stephanie, great Connors. She’s written the book Conceived by Science, and you can pick it up on Amazon. Also, we’re going to have a special offer here at the end of the program that you can get the book and also contribute to create it equal.


Stephanie, we’ve got about a minute left. I’d like you to just wrap it up. You’ve authored three books, one on abortion, one on in vitro, fertilization, infertility, and the other on assisted suicide, if you would, I mean, we’re entering into a different period here in the United States, and now that you’re an American, you can understand and being in the state of Florida, things are about to change dramatically, possibly with the overturning of Roe versus Wade, how would you see things going forward? I mean, you’ve spent a lot of time, like I have, changing hearts and minds on college campuses, speaking in front of pro-life and pro-choice audiences. Give us some marching orders, if you would.

Stephanie Gray Connors (21:04):

Well, you know what? I think what comes to mind is the importance of raising our voices for those who cannot raise their voice themselves, and the youngest of our kind are incapable of speaking out, so we need to speak for them. At the same time, we want to speak sensitively because we know whether we’re talking about abortion or infertility or IVF in any of these situations, we’re talking to an audience that very often is hurting because of living in this imperfect world. And so we want to encourage people to protect the vulnerable while acknowledging they themselves may have been in a vulnerable position. They themselves may have been heard. And what comes to mind is a quote I once heard, hurting people, hurt people. And so very sadly, because some people have been hurt, like we talked earlier about victims of rape, they might think, well, then I need to have an abortion, but that just ends up hurting someone else. Or if someone’s hurting from infertility, they think, well, I’m just going to create a baby by IVF. But as we’ve talked about, that can also hurt pre-born children. So we want to aim for truth, justice, goodness, and beauty. And that means protecting, respecting all human life, pre-born children, and then moving sensitively and compassionately in our interactions with born humans as well.

Mark Harrington (22:22):

My guest has been Stephanie Gray Connors, and you can check out more about her work by going to love unleashes life.com. Thanks for being on the show, Stephanie.

Stephanie Gray Connors (22:33):

Thanks for having me on.

Mark Harrington (22:34):

We’ll see you next time. God bless you. God bless America, and remember America to bless God.

Narrator (22:42):

You’ve been listening to Mark Harrington, your radio activist. For more information on how to make a difference for the cause of life, liberty and justice, go to created equal.org.org. To follow mark, go to Mark Harrington show.com. Be sure to tune in next time for your marching orders in the Culture War.