Monday, October 04, 2010

In-vitro Fertilization

Today it was announced that Robert G. Edwards was awared the Nobel Prize in medicine. Unlike a certain unpopular President who won the Nobel Peace Prize because, because he...well I am not sure why, Mr. Edwards was a pioneer in the field of in-vitro fertilization and clearly made an enormous breakthrough that has led to an estimated four million people being born who otherwise presumably would not have been:

STOCKHOLM—Robert G. Edwards of Britain won the 2010 Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday for the development of in-vitro fertilization, a breakthrough that has helped millions of infertile couples to have children.

"His achievements have made it possible to treat infertility, a medical condition afflicting a large proportion of humanity including more than 10% of all couples world-wide," the medicine prize committee in Stockholm said in its citation.

Mr. Edwards, an 85-year-old professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge, started working on IVF in the 1950s. He developed the technique, in which egg cells are fertilized outside the body and implanted in the womb, together with Patrick Steptoe, who died in 1988.
On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown in Britain became the first baby born through the groundbreaking procedure, marking a revolution in fertility treatment.

"Approximately four million individuals have been born thanks to IVF," the citation said. "Today, Robert Edwards' vision is a reality and brings joy to infertile people all over the world."

This raises all sorts of questions for me. Not whether he should have won, clearly this was a breakthrough in medical science. My question is one for believers and I want to open it up for discussion. Is in-vitro fertilization something that Christians should embrace as a means to have the blessing of children when married couples are unable to conceive naturally or is this an unwarranted way to step in when God has prevented conception for whatever reason.

This is an interesting, important and fascinating question. What do we think about it?


Dan Allen said...

Let me say that I know nothing about this subject except what I see on tv so maybe my opinions are ill-informed and ignorant. I apologize in advance.

Having said that, let me proceed with my brilliant opinion: God is the author of life, so it's not as though these lives are any different. What would make in-vitro fertilization any different than other ways that people try and have kids when they are not naturally able to? It seems like it would be hard to create some kind of firm line in medicine when asking about allowing things to happen naturally (leaving them up to God?) and helping through medical science (infertility, life-support machines...) If we are to say that in-vitro opposes God's wishes for infertile people then I think we should be taking a hard look at the implications of that on medicine in general. Interesting topic!


Jessica said...

interesting post, this is my thoughts on the subject. I'm kinda mixed about it. LOL One the one hand I think that IVF has to be part of Gods plan because nothing happens outside of His plan. it's not like God is sitting there going "Oh shoot I didn't want Bob and Susie to have a baby but they went and had IVF, aww man"
On the other hand though, I think that if you can't concieve naturally with out the help of IVF you should first consider adoption. If you have the money to have that done you have the money tohelp give a poor little child who has no one to love them a good (hopefully) godly home, and we know that Gods all for adoption. So I don't know. I think that its not a sin but I wish that they people going for IVF would think about adoption first. Just my 2 cents.

Bean said...

I think in-vitro fertilization is something that should be avoided. Why do I say this? How many eggs are fertilized and then not used, placed in storage, experimented on, or worst of all DESTROYED. If you believe that life begins at conception, a fertilized egg is the very beginning of a human life, and as such should have opportunity to develop. Any fertilized egg that is not given opportunity to live and develop essentially aborted. It is no different than participating in a chemical abortion (the morning after pill).
Fertility treatments present many moral issues. What about those that take fertility drugs, find out they are having a multiple pregnancy and decide to have selective abortion to reduce the number of babies carried at one time. How is this morally right?
Man always thinks he can do better than God.

Chad said...

I believe that God honors life, so what we do in pursuit of life is pleasing to God.

I think that medical intervention when it comes to the creation/preservation of life is a good thing, and think that medical intervention for the destruction/termination of life is a bad thing. It's not that all medical intervention is bad. I've had many discussions with folks who question my wife and I about having so many kids. They say that if I don't believe in birth control, then I must not believe in other medical intervention. That is false. Contraception extinguishes a potential life, a life which God would obviously see as precious, while most medical procedures attempt to prolong/improve the life of a person (who God obviously sees as precious)

Of course the resultant destruction of human embryos common in IVF raises questions. I believe that's why the Vatican disagreed with the awarding of the Nobel to this person.

Goblin said...

I think you need to delve a bit deeper into what generally happens during IVF. As far as I know it is usual to create multiple embryos from the sperm and eggs and then to examine these to see which seem to be the best quality. The best ones are used for implantation in the womb or frozen for possible later use. The less viable looking embryos are destroyed. it therefore depends on when you consider human life to begin. If it is at conception - joining of sperm and egg and beginning of the subdivision into cells, then you might consider IVF to be even worse than abortion. Abortion deals with an unwanted single embryo, whereas IVF deliberately creates embryos a number of which are intended to be destroyed.

Ixx said...

Just a clarification, Nobel prizes are awarded to individuals with the potential to change the world positively, rather than those who already have. They are usually awarded to scientists who have come up with a groundbreaking theory, regardless of how it is put into practice. Or, to a groundbreaking politician, such as our first ever interracial president.