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October 5, 2010

Reflections on Robert Edwards’ Achievement of the Nobel Prize for Medicine

The following is a commentary from Maureen Condic, PhD, Science Advisor for the Bioethics Defense Fund. She is a friend of CBHD and a recent plenary speaker at Beyond Therapy: Exploring Enhancement and Human Futures:

British scientist Robert Edwards, who pioneered the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF), was announced as the recipient of this year’s Nobel prize for medicine. The work of Edwards and his colleague Patrick Steptoe, has resulted in the birth of over four million children world wide since the first “test tube baby” was produced in 1978. It has also resulted in serious health complications, including death, for a large number of women due to the strong hormone treatments required to obtain eggs; deaths that have not been consistently tracked by any national health agency. And it has put the children conceived by this procedure at serious medical risk; a recent study of IVF children born in the United States has shown significant increases in a number of serious birth defects. Finally, Edwards’ work is responsible for generating large numbers of human embryos that are never transferred to their mother’s uterus and are either discarded or frozen indefinitely as “spares”. These human beings at the earliest stage of development were produced in the laboratory to satisfy the natural desire of infertile couples to have a child they will love. Yet these frozen or discarded humans were never given a chance to mature, and have never experienced the love that motivated their creation in the first place. Edwards’ work has been honored by the Nobel committee as a having brought the gift of children to infertile couples world wide. Yet this “gift” has come at a large—and largely unexamined cost.

Read more:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1317556/IVF-scientist-Robert-Edwards-wins-Nobel-prize-medicine.html#ixzz11PqJLBWF

 

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