Vatican Official Fuels Controversy Over Nobel Prize for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

No one can dispute the fact that British Professor Robert Edwards played an integral role on the two-man team that made an important and historic scientific breakthrough with in vitro fertilization (IVF). In so many words, Edwards is the real “father” of the first test-tube baby born in 1978 – Louise Brown.

Now, 32 years later, the Nobel Foundation has lit a fire under the controversy surrounding in vitro fertilization. At 85 years old, Edwards has won the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his pioneering efforts with in vitro. Now everyone including the Vatican is chiming in with their opinions on what Edwards’ discovery has ultimately meant to mankind.

IVF continues to flourish with stories like Octomom, and others, gaining headlines. The U.S. is home to more IVF babies than any country in the world (but not per capita, see below). Current estimates state that about 4 million babies have been born through IVF worldwide.

IVF has given hope to, and literally changed the lives of, millions of couples who otherwise would be incapable of having children. Lesley and John Brown tried to have a baby for nine years before their scientific breakthrough with baby Louise. In fact, the Browns went on to have another daughter through IVF – Natalie Brown was the fortieth IVF baby, and the first to give birth to herself naturally.

Despite all of the “success” stories with IVF, the procedure continues to draw heat. The Vatican, and even many in the medical field, have denounced or spoken strongly against IVF. Although Edwards was a helluva scientist, is the world a better place because of IVF?

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the Vatican’s bio-ethics official, has his own opinion. The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life at the Vatican, Carrasco de Paula said that Edwards’ research is responsible for freezers full of embryos, many of which will be used for research or disposed of.

British Professor Robert Edwards (left) is shown with the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown (right), and her mother (middle), in 2007. Edwards won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2010.Edwards’ discoveries have created a “market,” or at least a new industry, for donor eggs. The Vatican and many of its supporters believe a lucrative industry centered on eggs and embryos is unethical, and that the concept of “mothers for hire” is repulsive. The Vatican says the Nobel Prize minimizes the ethical issues surrounding IVF and that further, patient research needs to be done to overcome the true causes of infertility.

And at the HuffingtonPost website, one doctor questioned whether or not the Nobel Foundation considered what he calls the negative, originally unintended, consequences of IVF – such as sextuplets, octuplets, post-menopausal women giving birth and the emerging overpopulation of a world in which everyone can now add to the masses.

As mentioned, millions of people’s lives have changed in a positive way due to IVF. One in 75 babies in the U.S. is born through IVF. A total of 17 countries deliver more than 1 in 50 babies through IVF. Feel free to leave a comment if you have strong feelings on the subject.

If you were curious as to which countries have taken advantage of the procedure (at the highest rate per capita) here are your answers:

Belgium 3.2%
Slovenia 3.4%
Denmark 4.1%
Israel 4.2%
Greece 5.8%

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