Persons are Constitutively Relational. IVF = No Relation. Prepare for the consequences
The Event: Noble Price for IVF
British physiologist Robert Edwards (L) is seen attending the 30th birthday celebrations of Bourn Hall, a fertility clinic he co-founded in Cambridge, with Lesley Brown, her daughter Louise - the first baby to be conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) - and Louise's son Cameron, in this July 12, 2008 handout file photograph, received in London on September 4, 2010. Edwards, who helped revolutionize the treatment of human infertility, has clinched the 2010 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology, a Swedish daily reported on Monday.
By Mia Shanley
Known as the father of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), Edwards picked up the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.5 million) for what the institute called a "milestone in the development of modern medicine".
As many as 4 million babies have been born since the first IVF baby in 1978 as a result of the techniques Edwards developed, together with a now-deceased colleague, Patrick Steptoe, the institute said in a statement.
"Bob Edwards changed the way we think about having babies," said Dr Alan Thornhill, scientific director of the London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and
The Roman Catholic Church strongly opposes IVF as an affront to human dignity that destroys more human life than it creates because scientists discard or store unused fertilized embryos.
"In vitro fertilization has led directly to the deliberate destruction of millions of human embryos," said Professor David Albert Jones, director of the
Nevertheless, Edwards and Steptoe, a gynecologist, pursued their work despite opposition from churches, governments, many in the media and skepticism from scientific colleagues.
They struggled to raise funds and had to rely on private donations but in 1968 they developed methods to fertilize human eggs outside the body.
In 1977, they tried a new procedure which did not involve hormone treatments and relied instead on precise timing. On July 25 of the next year, Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, was born.
"We hold Bob in great affection and are delighted to send our personal congratulations to him and his family at this time," she said in a statement released with her mother.
The 32-year-old, who has stayed in touch with Edwards all her life, is married and has one son who was conceived naturally.
Her birth caused a media sensation as it raised questions about medical ethics, drew religious concerns and piqued basic human curiosity. Many wondered in the early stages of treatment whether an IVF baby would grow up normally.
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The first thing to think is to ask the question: what is a human person? If a human person is not a “thing,” then we have a problem since we have just “engineered” a human person, reducing him to a function instead of an end and value in himself. The problem is not simply moral or immoral action. It is a question of Who is the Creator of the human person. If God is the Creator of the human person who is autonomous free spirit and matter formed into a human body, then we have replaced the Creator by technology and reduced person to thing that can be “used” and manipulated – or discarded – as “thing.” Usurping the place of God by the technology of “making” a human is an atheistic act. It contradicts the most profound ontological tendency in man to seek love, truth, beauty and the Absolute as his source and ultimate end.
This is a moment to become conscious of what is going on before we are herded into an unconscious conformity that will be cemented into our thought patterns while mesmerized by the sensible images on the screen.
If we understand the human person to be created by God in the image and likeness of the Persons of the Trinity, then the nature of the person is constitutively relational. The Person must be created by and in love and for love.
The Catholic Church has consistently taught that love and life cannot be separated. It has taught this because the very nature of the divine Persons revealed by Jesus Christ are the meaning of love and life, and that they are relations constitutively. That is to say, that the very Being of the Father is the act of engendering the Son, and the very Being of the Son is the action of obedience and glorification of the Father, and the Person of the Spirit is the Personification-Love of the mutual irreducible, Self-gift of the Two. We are made in the image and likeness of this relationality. Hence, the origin of the human person as image and likeness of the divine, must be another, or other, persons.
Therefore, the Church teaches through the SCDF (Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith): “b)… the procreation of a person must be the fruit and the result of married love. The origin of the human being thus follows from a procreation that is linked to the union, not only biological but also spiritual, of the parents, made one by the bond of marriage. Fertilization achieved outside the bodies of the couple remains by this very fact deprived of the meanings and the values which are expressed in the language of the body and in the union of human persons.
“c) Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person. In his unique and unrepeatable origin, the child must be respected and recognized as equal in personal dignity to those who give him life. The human person must be accepted in his parents’ act of union and love; the generation of a child must therefore be the fruit of that mutual giving which is realized in the conjugal act wherein the spouses cooperate as servants and not as masters in the work of the Creator who is Love.
“In reality, the origin of a human person is the result of an act of giving. The one conceived must be the fruit of his parents love. He cannot be desired or conceived as the product of an intervention of medical or biological techniques; that would be equivalent to reducing him to an object of scientific technology. No one may subject the coming of a child into the world to conditions of technical efficiency which are t o be evaluated according to standards of control and dominion.
“The moral relevance of the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and between the goods of marriage, as well as the unity of the human being and the dignity of his origin, demand that the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses The link between procreation and the conjugal act is thus shown to be of great importance on the anthropological and moral planes, and it throws light on the positions of the Magisterium with regard to homologous artificial fertilization.”
 Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation, J. Ratzinger, A. Bovone, February 22, 1987.