In the beginning, there was widespread concern that [Robert] Edwards’s in vitro technique would result in more children born with birth defects. When Louise Brown, the first “test tube” baby, was born healthy in 1978, these concerns evaporated, though questions of the long-term health of IVF children continue to be raised. As the original cohort ages, we should get clear answers one way or another.
The eminent bioethicist Leon Kass of the University of Chicago raised other concerns. IVF would, he feared, “lead to cloning, genetic manipulation of embryos, surrogate pregnancies, and the exploitation of nascent human life as a research tool.” For those like me who share Dr. Kass’s view of these practices as incompatible with respect for the dignity of human beings, these fears have proven to be well-grounded….
…the real question of “who is in charge” cannot be resolved by proving that something is technically possible. Rather it is whether it is right to or wrong””consistent with or contrary to the dignity of the human being””to do what it may well be technically possible to do. Edwards’s technical achievement has brought joy to millions of parents. And each life created, no matter how it was created, is inestimably precious and intrinsically good.