Donahue: (1978 August? ) Dr. Andre Hellegers, M.D., First Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Speaking About the Birth of Louise Brown, First Baby Born Using IVF 1978. Second Guest Is Father William Smith
Multmedia Program Productions
This segment of Donahue [the Phil Donahue Show] focuses on in-vitro fertilization or test tube babies shortly after the birth of Louise Brown in England on July 25, 1978. The date for the segment is 1978. Dr. Andre Hellegers, M.D., the first director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Father William Smith, a professor of moral theology at St. Joseph's Seminary, operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, are the two expert guests on the show. After an opening conversation of about 17 minutes with Father Smith and Dr. Hellegers, Phil Donahue opens the floor for questions from the audience and from viewers calling in by telephone. The several following segments range in length from 5 minutes to about 7 or 8 minutes and consist of comments and questions from the studio audience and viewers calling in by telephone. A married couple and a woman in attendance without her husband both share their perspectives as persons dealing with infertility. Father Smith speaks first and makes several points about his moral/ethical concerns regarding the process that helped to create Louise Brown. He is concerned about separating procreation from natural intercourse. He is also concerned about the numbers of embryos created before a live birth results (later in the program mentions "80 failures" cited by Dr. Steptoe) and cites the ethical principle of non-maleficence / first do no harm. He is also concerned the in vitro fertilization seems to be a necessary step on the road to genetic engineering - so the concern about using this technique for other means that are even more unacceptable. Phil Donahue and Dr. Hellegers describe the three branches of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics: reproductive biology, sociology of population (and what to do about it) and ethics (bioethics, ethics of biology). Andre Hellegers cites his concerns as including the false hope the birth of Louise Brown is creating for women/couples dealing with infertility. He also mentioned his concern that he does not know where this technology will lead and the difficulty of drawing lines between acceptable uses and unacceptable uses. Dr. Hellegers also mentions the number of zygotes of embryos that are lost or destroyed in this procedure. This will be the first time that embyos will be destroyed in order to become pregnant rather than the more usual destruction in order to become not pregnant. Dr. Hellegers also mentions his concern that with the increasing ability to select which embryos are implanted that children will increasingly be treated as objects that need to meet our standards or criteria to gain life/birth. Paul Ramsey is mentioned during the program as are heart transplants, embryo selection, etc. These segments are separated by black intevening time of 2-3 minutes - perhaps where commercials once were - but can be moved between by using the fast forward buttons.
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