Culture,  Politics

The Ethics of In Vitro

By now, you’ve probably already heard the news that the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to the scientist who developed in vitro fertilization (Robert G. Edwards of Great Britain). What you may not have heard is how many difficult ethical quandaries have been created since the implementation of this new technology.

Debora Spar reports how this lawless industry is spawning Octomoms, birth defects, and maternal deaths. She also demonstrates how far behind the United States is in regulating In Vitro compared to Europe. She writes,

‘In the United States, by contrast, it can be said that “anything goes.” No regulation, no (or little) insurance coverage, and a correspondingly greater chance for bad things to happen in what has become a multibillion-dollar industry. In the United States, not surprisingly perhaps, we remain stubbornly resistant to the notion of regulation, particularly in an area as intimate as procreation. We don’t want our Internet regulated, after all, or our banks. We have fought hard, as women, to “keep the government off our bodies” and to preserve the right of reproductive choice. But as reproductive technologies continue to expand, they are bringing us options that push the notion of personal choice to terrifying limits. Do we really want single, unemployed mothers of six (or anyone, really) to produce eight more babies? Do we want parents to have the option of choosing the gender of their child? How about height or hair color or athletic prowess?’

I think Russell Moore’s terse commentary is spot-on: “IVF is a lawless, dangerous, unregulated, multibillion dollar industry.” He’s right. The status quo is unacceptable. Something’s got to change.

Albert Mohler also deals with the ethics of In Vitro on his podcast today. Mohler identifies other ethical problems with In Vitro: the separation of human sexuality from procreation and the routine destruction of “excess” human embryos. Listen to Mohler’s commentary below.

Mohler’s longer ethical critique of In Vitro can be found here: part 1 and part 2.


  • Donald Johnson

    I agree there are huge concerns with IVF.

    I disagree that there are “creaturely limits” in the way Mohler presents them. This is the same argument that was used to deny anesthesia to women in labor based on what was in Genesis, but this idea never surfaced when men developed ways to reduce the sweat of their brows.

    Humans have advanced their technology throughout history and it can be expected to continue. The MISUSE of tech is not a reason to disallow correct use, we do need to have the legal and moral discussions about what is correct use.

  • Tim Z.

    There’s also the control aspect. You’ve taken procreation away from God. It was an aspect of so many Bible stories. “I will make it happen.” How did that work out for the people?

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