Rabbi Manis Friedman seems to think so.
In his essay, Rabbi Friedman writes about how important the circumstances of a child's conception are. He writes that ideally, conception should occur naturally with two parents who love each other. When it occurs in circumstances other than this, he writes, there could be serious consequences. If, during conception, parents are in other than ideal circumstances (disinterested in each other, or in the hopes that there would be no child are two example that he brings) then it can harm the child psychologically and spiritually. He states that children who result from these unions feel unloved or unwanted by their parents.
And then he asks:
If it is true that a compromised intimacy hurts the child, what happens when there is no intimacy at all?
While he does not come out and say it, the implication here is that when there is no intimacy involved, it is even worse than when there is "bad intimacy." To back up his implied assertion, he brings the following example:
According to Chasidic sources, both Isaac, the patriarch of the Jews, and Habakuk, the son of the Shunamit, were born with souls from alma d'nukva or "the feminine realm." It is interesting that both were born through extraordinary, holy circumstances, and even so were lacking an essential spiritual component. It would likewise take the extraordinary, transformative experiences of the akedah (the 'binding" of Isaac), and the death-and-revival of the Shunamit's son, for their souls to be made whole. The unnatural conditions by which these individuals were conceived would require "correction" later in life. All the more so our cause for concern when this takes place in situations that are decidedly less than holy.
There is one line in his article that seems to indicate that the target of his essay is the single woman who uses IVF (or some other assisted reproductive method)* to have a child. But the reality is that the women who do so are few and far between... and in the frum world (which is the target of his essay) those people are practically non-existent. In reality, his target seems to be the Orthodox infertile couples who use (or are considering using) IVF to have children. He is, in essence, telling couples who use IVF that their children are spiritually (and possibly psychologically) defective because they weren't conceived in a spirit of love and nurture. Well, as someone I know who happens to have one of those miracle babies pointed out:
As someone who now has a miracle baby rocking in his swing right next to me, I can honestly say that he is no less loved, wanted or lacking than my two daughters who were conceived naturally.
Not to take away from my love of my daughters, but my son was prayed for. I spilled tears that I would conceive him.
In the end, Rabbi Friedman asserts, all is not lost. If you already have an IVF baby, you can easily "fix" his problems. How?
Chassidism offered an antidote in the practice of Chitas -- an acronym for Chumash (Torah), Tehillim (Psalms) and Tanya. Just by reading the words, by absorbing the images of those letters and those words and those paragraphs in daily segments, the negative repercussions of assisted reproduction may be corrected.
Now, then, I'm kind of stunned. This seems to be the upshot of the essay - say Chitas and all will be well with your child. Does your child lack the proper soul because he came from a test tube? Say Chitas. Does your child have in utero memories from being rudely shoved into a uterus instead of arriving there the natural way? Say Chitas. Is your kid rude? Well, it must be because you didn't have the holiest of intentions during conception. It couldn't possibly be bad parenting or just simply that he's a kid and it happens sometimes. Say Chitas.
But I also seem to be left with this question: just what was his purpose in writing this essay? To stop single women from becoming parents via IVF? I highly doubt it. Firstly, most single parents end up as such the old fashioned way. Even those who deliberately want a child will usually try to find a good friend and someone whom they trust (and possibly love, even if not marriage material) to help with the conception of their child . The number of those who actually use IVF to become single parents is probably very small. And, as I mentioned, in the frum world, practically nil.
It seems to me that the article was written for, and aimed at, the frum couple who has (or is considering having) a child via IVF. But then, why write the article? I can only come up with three possible reasons:
1. He feels that couples shouldn't use IVF at all, and that it's probably better to remain childless than bring a "defective" child into the world. However, I would discount this as a motive as he makes the point that people can use IVF as an absolute last resort and in the context of marriage and Torah law.
2. He seems to think that there are frum couples who don't use IVF as an absolute last resort and that they run to the IVF center if they aren't pregnant within half a year. Otherwise, why scare people away from IVF by telling them that their children will be "defective?" However, this is patently absurd. As anyone who has gone through these treatments can tell you, they are dreadfully expensive, a lot of trouble, and painful - both physically and emotionally. And each time it doesn't work, it really hurts. I don't think that *anyone* would put themselves through IVF unless they really, really, really, really wanted a baby more than anything in the world and that there was just about no other way to have one.
3. He feels the need to tell people who have had children via IVF that their children are "defective" and that they need to recite Chitas in order to rectify this "defect." Personally, I find the idea that a child conceived in marriage to parents who love each other and who want and pray and shed tears for said child is spiritually and psychologically defective to be repugnant. But that's just my belief. If he wants to believe that they are defective, it's his right. However, there are certainly better ways to get parents to recite Chitas than by telling them that their children are "spiritual rejects" (my term, not his). I find his approach insensitive, boorish and outright offensive.
Hat tip: OnionSoupMix
* In this post, whenever I use IVF, consider it shorthand for "IVF (or other assistive reproductive method)." I don't mean IVF to the exclusion of all other methods.