Yesterday, it was announced that Robert G. Edwards, the grandfather of IVF, will receive a Nobel Prize for his work. I’m glad to see that the Vatican and others stepped up with goodresponses.

Msgr. Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, head of the Pontifical Academy for Life (and one of my former professors), made the excellent point that Roberts’ work opened “the wrong door” for infertility treatments. IVF has been a difficult topic to address, not least of all because there’s been very little public conversation from the public face of the Catholic Church. It’s also difficult to discuss because we basically have to counter a very powerful argument, namely that smiling, beautiful baby that makes a husband and wife feel complete and satisfies grandparents.

In reality, IVF doesn’t really address infertility, it just circumvents certain forms of it. Compare that with Dr. Hilgers work on NaPro technology which effectively restores fertility in an overwhelming number of its female patients (90%?) and helps to improve a woman’s overall health. And it accomplishes this without the moral dilemmas of leftover embryos, egg harvesting, the commoditization of the child, savior siblings, women’s health, etc. And it often costs a whole lot less than IVF.

No matter how emotionally satisfying the successful results of IVF may be, there are serious questions about the dignity of the human person that need to enter the discussion.

IVF isn’t about getting a couple any baby; it’s about giving them the specific baby that they want. As a friend of mine who was considering adoption put it, “Whether I have that baby or someone else does, there’s no guarantee that the baby will be virtuous, intelligent, kind, or anything.”

There are some things we can’t control, even with IVF. We delude ourselves if we think that we can and if we think that’s a good thing. Let’s face it, most of us are not physically perfect or morally perfect. Many of us would be culled using the selection processes now available for IVF. In many ways, IVF is about loving only on certain terms, not unconditionally. Talk about a brave new world…