In case you missed this story today, the BBC reports that a Vatican official is unhappy with the fact that British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
Full story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-11472753
In the last 32 years since that pioneering work, over four million babies have been born using IVF fertility to people who would otherwise not have been able to have children.
Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and the Vatican’s spokesman on bioethics highlights the ethical questions raised by the fertility treatment.
While admittedly there may be some countries where ethical standards are not as strictly enforced as in the UK, his claim that “most probably [embryos] will end up abandoned or dead” is ludicrous. Anyone who’s been through the process will tell you that the number of viable embryos created through each round of IVF is very small, and the failure rate of each of those embryos once implanted is still high.
I would say that any couple going through IVF who end up with more embryos than they can use will be a tiny proportion of the number going through the process, and for many, two or three rounds of IVF can still result in no pregnancies being carried to full term for couples.
As usual, the Vatican, instead of embracing the modern world, and looking to welcome people into the Church, chooses to alienate many who would not be here but for IVF and the pioneering work of Robert Edwards.
I wonder how any of the IVF children born into Catholic families (or Catholic by choice) now in their twenties or thirties feel about their Church raising such concerns.
And how can a supposedly pro-life Church which condemns the use of contraceptives criticise a life-creating technology?
Rather than acting like the Catholic Church of the 16th Century, decrying Galileo as a heretic, perhaps the Catholic Church should take its head out of the sand and join the rest of the world in the 21st Century. I wish this had come out before the Papal visit to the UK, I’d have joined the protests…