"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Friday, 8 October 2010

IVF Nobel annoys the Vatican

I suppose the Catholic Church’s response to awarding the Nobel Prize for Medicine to British IVF pioneer Robert Edwards was predictable. Predictable and depressing, because yet again the medieval institution is tainting a genuine human achievement giving hope to thousands of infertile couples, with its misguided moralising.
Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, while claiming to have spoken in a personal capacity still reflects the Vatican’s official view that IVF procedures create excess embryo’s which are either stored in freezers or destroyed.
In the best of cases they are transferred into a uterus but most probably they will end up abandoned or dead, which is a problem for which the new Nobel prize winner is responsible
He also claims the Nobel Committee “ignored the ethical questions” raised by fertility treatments.
It would be too much to ask I suppose that the Church will ever accept the obvious evidence that embryos are potential humans, not persons. Persons require consciousness, unless of course you believe in the existence of immaterial souls…Oh wait! That’ll be it then.
However the idea that IVF is wasteful of eggs and embryos totally ignores the fact that nature is, if anything, more wasteful. Estimates of the attrition rate for newly fertilised eggs range anywhere from 25 to 70% in normally fertile couples. When you bear in mind that the couples going through IVF are diagnosed as infertile, we can assume that left to their own devices something approaching 100% of their embryos would die. So even in religious fairy-tale land IVF is saving more souls than it destroys.
The Church should really just learn to shut up and let Robert Edwards enjoy his well deserved Nobel.

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