Robert G Edwards and the Roman Catholic Church
Reproductive biomedicine online 2011 Jun; 22(7): 665-72
The Roman Catholic Church reacted negatively to the announcement that the Nobel Prize for Medicine had been awarded to Robert G Edwards. Thirty-three years ago, Cardinal Albino Luciani, on the eve of his election to become Pope, stated that, whereas progress is certainly a beautiful thing, mankind has not always benefited from progress. Catholic criticism has raised seven points: (i) God wants human life to begin through the 'conjugal act' and not artificially; (ii) artificial interventions at the beginning of human life are dangerous and ethically unacceptable; (iii) limits can be imposed even upon an individual's freedom to achieve a legitimate goal, such as having a child within marriage; (iv) the massive loss of preimplantation embryos characterizing IVF must be considered as a tragic loss of 'nascent' human persons; (v) Edwards bears a moral responsibility for all subsequent developments in assisted reproduction technology and for all 'abuses' made possible by IVF; (vi) there can be deleterious consequences for offspring of assisted reproduction technology; and (vii) Edwards' discovery did not eliminate the causes of infertility. This article elaborates from the Roman Catholic perspective on each of these points, some of which are found to be more substantial than others.
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