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To IVF or not to IVF, That Is The Question

05/10/2010

Welcome to the world Lousie.

This blog is a devils advocate.  There has  been a recent award to Dr Robert Edwards for his break through technology to allow those who have infertility issues to be able to have children. The technology has allowed since its advent 4 million plus children that would have never existed to be born. Families were created out of nothing. That is not actually a correct statment, but please allow me to wallow in my devils advocacy.

The birth of Louise Brown at 11:47 pm on 25 July 1978 at the Oldham General Hospital made medical history: in vitro fertilization meant a new way to help infertile couples who formerly had no possibility of having a baby.

However the catholic church has expressed concerns since her birth.

Still, the technology has been a boon to many otherwise childless couples who have been given the gift of parenthood. This is why that the Nobel committee has awarded Dr Edwards the Nobel prize for his work.

However, Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, the head of Pontifical Academy for Life in the Vatican, has attacked the decision to honour Dr Edwards’s work. It would be easy to dismiss the claims of this man. After all the Catholic Church carries not only a lot of glinting accolades, but a load of not so glinting accolades as well.

I will try and be the devils advocate here. I will not take one side or another but try and present the views of both sides; those that support Dr Edwards and his technology, and those that harbour  doubts. The post may lose me some fans and it may gain me others.

I will not look at this too deeply from a religious point of view. I am not that religious and it would demean many to impose my religious views on others. This is purely a examination from a scientific point. However, let me say this. If there is a god, and I believe there may well be one only because I want to cover all bases, then god created us to be the best we can be and as Aleister Crowely put “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

Alternatively some also believe that god has a divine plan and in fact the idea is to go with the flow as swimming against it is pretty hopeless. Therefore if one is to truly believe in a divine plan, then 9/11 was part of this plan. As was the rise and subsequent fall of Saddam Hussein and others that have impeded life. And therefore so was the ability given to Dr Edwards to create life.

We can also look at the reason for our existence from a more objective view. Evolution allows us to currently dominate all life on this planet. Including our own. We are the product of this. Some say that god may have had a hand. Others say it has purely been chance. The fact that our genes come form those that bore those before us and so on, is a strong indicator to the Survival of the Species as advocated by Darwin.

Still our brain has gone beyond simple genetics and now we can manipulate the  building blocks of life itself. If we are god’s creation, then this is all a part of his plan. If we are merely here by chance, then this too can also be seen on one level as a sign of where we have come from since crawling out of the primordial swamp.

If one is to believe we are divine created, then this award must please you, as after all Dr Edwards has lived to his side of the divine plan. But like I said, I am more inclined to also consider that we are mere circumstance.

If there was no Louise, then this child would never have been born

That is why I found the retort from the Vatican to this award interesting. Many will assume they are merely talking about the divine. They are not.

Consider this. When this IVF technology started, the chance of birth was minimal. It was after all a unique technology and Louise Brown was an extremely improbable and unique creation. Since then, technology has created this extreme improbablity into the extremely possible with now 40% chance of IVF births being successful. That in and of it self is an amazing technology and all awards lauded on Dr Edwards is more than well deserved.

However, technology is a two sided blade. I can see the Vatican concern here. You see many of the children born under an IVF program were given the gift of life before we fully mapped our own genes. Evolution does its job quietly and without remorse. If parents are not able to have children there is a reason. Yes some times this reason is physical. In fact I will go beyond this and say that in most cases it has been physical. But sometimes, it is genetical. And this must give us pause.

The reason why evolution has been able to create us is it does not listen to pleas. Does this technology not only create life, but cost us life?

If a father or mother has a genetic fault when the two merge, and this is the key here as one partner may or even both may have no genetic fault, but if one is there, then the 4 million births brought to existence can in fact possibly hinder humanity as a species and not aid us.

Technology now has taken us further. We can genetically identify faults and prevent the natural birth of children that would normally be born to attempt to eliminate these faults from our genetic pool.

The question I dare to pose is should we?

Are we not here purely as a result of natural mutation? Should this not be the key to our future. On the other hand, I look at the life aided to creation by Dr Edwards, I see pictures of Louise and her own family, and I ask myself what gives me the right to question her existence.

So. This is the question we must now as a genus ask ourselves.

Is it life. Or life at all costs? And can we one day address those issues?

That is the question.

A. Ghebranious                2010                   All Rights Reserved.

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One Comment
  1. i see what you did there

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