The IVF Question

The decision to award Robert Edwards, the developer of in vitro fertilization, the Nobel Prize received front page coverage from the New York Times today. The story notes the church's objections to the procedure, but does little to flesh them out. For more on that front see today's story from Catholic News Service.

Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said he recognized that Edwards "ushered in a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction in which the best results are visible to everyone, beginning with Louise Brown."


However, "without Edwards there wouldn't be a market for oocytes (immature egg cells), without Edwards there wouldn't be freezers full of embryos waiting to be transferred in utero or, more likely, to be used for research or to die abandoned and forgotten by everyone," the monsignor said in a written statement released by the Vatican press office Oct. 4.


A few hours after the ANSA interview appeared, the Vatican issued a statement saying his comments, which were made in response to journalists' questions, represented Msgr. Carrasco's personal opinion and did not represent the pontifical academy.

In the statement released later by the Vatican, Msgr. Carrasco said while Edwards presented a whole new approach to the problem of infertility, "he opened the wrong door from the moment in which he focused everything on in vitro fertilization," which also meant he implicitly permitted people to turn to donations and a buyers-and-sellers market "that involves human beings."

Also worthwhile: this moving multi-media feature on the challenges of infertility. 


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Beth Cioffoletti
8 years 5 months ago
Thank you for these links, Tim.

Even though I am 60 years old now and have adopted and raised a child, I still recognize well the pain of infertility, and the IVF issue bewilders me.
Mani Chandy
8 years 5 months ago
One rather interesting to note is the following from one of the NYT articles.  The author writes: ''The objections [to IVF] gradually died away — except on the part of the Roman Catholic Church — as it became clear that the babies born by in vitro fertilization were healthy and that their parents were overjoyed to be able to start a family. Long-term follow-ups have confirmed the essential safety of the technique.''

But the NYT also published this: ''What are genetic risks for IVF children?''

There was another study done that reported children conceived via IVF had a statistically greater increase in cancer risk than those conceived traditionally. 

On the other hand, children conceived via IVF did a little better in standardized test scores, possibly because the parents who conceive via IVF might have higher levels of education than average.

Not that this proves one thing or another, or that any of this has anything to do with the Church's stance on IVF.  Just food for thought.


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