FaithWorld

Vatican keeps up attack on Nobel prize for IVF pioneer

embryoThe Vatican kept up its attack on the Nobel committee on Tuesday for giving the medicine prize to in-vitro fertilization pioneer Robert Edwards, saying he had led to a culture where embryos are seen as commodities.

For the second straight day, it gave the thumbs down to the choice of Edwards, whose success in fertilizing a human egg outside of the womb led to “test tube babies” and later innovations such as embryonic stem cell research and surrogate motherhood. Several leading Italian newspapers criticized it for its attack on Edwards. (Photo: Cloned human embryo created at Centre for Life in Newcastle upon Tyne in handout photo published May 19, 2005)

A statement by the Vatican-based International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), said the group was “dismayed” at the choice. “Although IVF has brought happiness to the many couples who have conceived through this process, it has done so at enormous cost,” the federation said in a statement issued on Vatican letter head.

“Many millions of embryos have been created and discarded during the IVF process,” it said, adding that embryos were being used as “animals destined for destruction.”

“This use has led to a culture where they are regarded as commodities, rather than the precious human individuals which they are.”

IVF spawns host of ethical issues

embryosIn vitro fertilization (IVF), the pioneering technique that won Robert Edwards the 2010 Nobel Prize for medicine, opened up a wealth of scientific options and a Pandora’s box of ethical dilemmas.

Edwards’s success in fertilizing a human egg outside of the womb led not only to “test tube babies” but also to innovations such as embryonic stem cell research and surrogate motherhood. (Photo: Frozen human embryos at the Priory Hospital in Birmingham, England, July 31., 1996/Ian Hodgson)

Amid the applause for these medical breakthroughs, ethicists from some Christian churches oppose IVF and techniques related to it because they involve the destruction of human embryos.  The bewildering array of options due to the IVF revolution — from the morality of making “designer babies” to exploitation of poor women as surrogate mothers — has created much concern and many debates among secular ethicists as well.