What does Buddhism teach about fertility treatments and cloning?

Fertility treatments are a new technology and so there is no direct guidance from scripture. Many Buddhists recognise that being unable to have children can cause great suffering. They try to show compassion to people in this situation. They may see fertility treatments as an act of kindness to end suffering in the world.

One of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is that suffering is caused by craving; always wanting more from life than we have. Many Buddhists might therefore accept that they are infertile and find a way to live with the situation. Buddhists might also see refusing to accept infertility as a form of gross desire which would hinder spiritual development.

Key teachings that Buddhists consider include:

  • The importance of human life - human life is considered to be very important and should be protected. The first of the Five Precepts is to avoid taking life. Any fertility treatments that involve the ending of life would go against this belief. For example the killing of spare embryos.
  • Metta - the concept of loving-kindness can be interpreted in many ways. Many Buddhists would not have an issue with fertility treatments and would, rather, see them as a means to be compassionate to those who are desperate to have a child.

As on many other issues, how each teaching is interpreted and applied may differ within and between different types of Buddhists.