Recently, the first child ever conceived via IVF gave birth to her first child. CNN reported the story and I was reading some of the comments. I am not sure if the comments make me want to cry, scream, or just start slapping people! The ignorance that still exists concerning fertility treatments is astounding! And most of it stems from ignorance.
Some of the comments against IVF are in regards to the treatment and handling of embryos, that they are not treated as human lives. I know that many religious leaders use this reasoning to formulate their opinions about IVF and other forms of ART. One commenter stated that the Catholic Church was "opposed to the principle that there are other healthy fertilized babies in the petri dish, and the others are discarded like yesterdays dinner." (I am quoting this as the commenter's opinion, not the Catholic Church's opinion.) This statement bothers me on so many levels. To make this kind of blanket statement proves ignorance. Are all embryos treated correctly? No. But the majority are and the few that are not should not be the basis of an opinion. To me this is like saying that because one black person robbed someone then they are all thieves. Or because one Muslim killed Americans then they are all terrorists. One misdeed should not be the basis for all opinions.
Some things to consider:
Do not confuse a researcher with a fertility doctor. They are two different species. A fertility doctor's main goal is to help a woman conceive. And possibly buy a second vacation home. But regardless of his reasons his success is determined by the clinic's statistics and success rates. It is beneficial for him to take care in the creation and handling of embryos. A researcher destroys embryos and the embryos that he uses are not given to him by fertility doctors but by the patients themselves. I am against the destruction of embryos for any reason, but to blame fertility clinics and doctors for this misuse is not entirely fair. In all actuality a researcher could create his own embryos from donor sperm and donor eggs, but using already created embryos just eliminates this step.
Couples that choose to "discard" embryos "like yesterdays dinner" are most likely (but not always) those that would choose abortion if a situation warranted it. There are many, many women that believe in abortion and have had one. Because the are discarding their embryos should women no longer be allowed to conceive at all? Also, many fertile women that conceive naturally miscarry due to the embryo being of poor quality. Not all embryos survive regardless of how and where they are created. So should natural conception be regulated as well? Of course not! But don't assume that the discarded embryos in a fertility clinic are because they are "extras". Most of the time they just did not survive.
IVF is a complicated matter. Instead of people just criticizing it they need to learn about it. Ignorance and prejudices needs to be set aside and steps need to be taken to ensure that embryos are properly cared for. Couples need to be better educated on their options regarding their embryos. Costs for IVF and storage either need to come down or be covered by insurance so that less embryos would be created at a time. Many couples use their life savings or go into major debt to finance one round of IVF. Having frozen embryos allows them the option of trying a second or third time, if necessary, at a lower cost. It saddens me that a decision this large has to be based upon financial reasons, but with the costs still so high there is no help for it. Until this changes we will continue to have an over abundance of frozen embryos. Education is key, not ignorance.
Ignorance is not bliss. It is just that....ignorance.