A British pro-life group has objected to the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to a co-inventor of in vitro fertilization on the grounds that the technique is an abuse of scientific knowledge and has caused the abuse and deaths of embryonic human beings.
The Nobel Committee granted the $1.5 million honor to Robert Edwards, 85, a professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge. He developed the IVF technique with British gynecologist Patrick Steptoe.
"IVF had moved from vision to reality and a new era in medicine had begun," commented the Nobel Committee, according to AOL News. It said Edwards’ vision had brought “joy to infertile people all over the world.”
The IVF technique involves mixing human eggs and sperm to conceive an embryo and then placing the embryo in a woman’s womb. The technique drew ethical criticism both from those who worried children conceived in IVF would have abnormalities and from those who recognized the technique puts human embryos at risk of death and separates human reproduction from marital love.
Louise Brown, the first baby to be born after IVF conception, was born on July 25, 1978 and is now a mother herself. She called the prize “fantastic news.”
“We hold Bob in great affection and are delighted to send our personal congratulations," she told the Associated Press.
Nobel Committee member Christer Hoog said it is “amazing” Edwards was able to respond to criticism and has remained “persistent and unperturbed in fulfilling his scientific vision.”
The U.K.-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was critical of the award to Edwards.
“IVF is possible because of one simple fact: human life begins at fertilization/conception. But IVF is an abuse of this knowledge. IVF puts human embryos at a vast disadvantage - they are subject to testing and discrimination, freezing and storage, disability and death. Countless human embryos have perished in the development and practice of IVF,” SPUC communications manager Anthony Ozimic commented on Monday.
“Since the birth of the first IVF child over thirty years ago, well over two million embryos have been discarded, or frozen, or selectively aborted, or miscarried or used in destructive experiments.”
Though it opposes the IVF procedure, he said SPUC insists that IVF embryos and babies must be accorded the rights that “any human person deserves.”
Ozimic added that IVF does not treat fertility problems but rather bypasses them.
“IVF has made it possible to search out and destroy disabled embryonic children. Our society should not be applauding legal and scientific advancements in the targeting and killing of disabled human beings,” he continued. “Giving Professor Edwards a prize for promoting the abuse of human embryos by IVF is an affront to mankind, and especially to disabled people.”
He contended that the Billings Ovulation Method and Natural Procreative Technology (NaPro Technology) are ethical alternatives to IVF and do not put embryonic human beings at risk of harm or death.
About four million babies have been born after an IVF conception, AOL News reports. IVF leads to a birth for 20 to 30 percent of embryos conceived.