Saturday 28 March 2009

IVF: bad ethics, bad healthcare

The Independent newspaper has reported that a new study suggests that babies born following IVF have a 30 percent higher of certain genetic defects than babies conceived naturally. The report lists heart abnormalities, cleft lips, bowel problems and digestive tract disorders among the problems. The Independent quotes a father of IVF triplets, who explains that couples going through IVF are too desperate for a child to care much about risks.

SPUC and colleagues in other pro-life groups have been warning about the health risks of IVF to both babies and mothers for a long time. We have also been warning about the pressures that IVF imposes upon a couple's relationship. The risks of IVF are far more extensive that those highlighed in the Independent's report.

The double standards and inconsistency are hard to stomach. Doctors anguish over the increased risk of a baby with a heart defect or intestinal obstruction, and discuss the figures intently with desperate would-be parents. But what thought do they give to the dominant risk: that most IVF embryos die in the laboratory or are frozen and will never get to be born? Does that matter to the doctors?

The important truth behind all this is that if a so-called medical treatment (IVF doesn't actually treat infertility problems, it merely gets around them) has serious side-effects, the risks may make it unethical to use; and that if a procedure is unethical, the ethical judgement of those who practise it may be impaired. Even those who don't see inherent moral problems with IVF ought to recognise this problem.

NaProTech (Natural Procreative Technology) is an ethical, healthy and far more successful alternative to IVF. Unlike IVF, in NaProTech no embryonic children are killed or exposed to harm in the laboratory, and couples' relationships are strengthened. Spread the good news!