I have to admit that I have mixed reactions when reading about 85 years old professor Robert Edwards at the University of Cambridge receiving the Nobel Prize in medicine.

He began work on in vitro fertilization, or IVF in the late 70s, and as the Nobel committee says, he was “persistent and unperturbed in fulfilling his scientific vision,” and today, the odds of a couple having a baby after a single cycle of IVF treatment are about 1 in 5, roughly the same odds as a fertile couple trying to have children naturally…For millions of families, it created the possibility of a truly joyful and extraordinary event.”

I understand that successful IVF is huge for those who desperately want their own biological child. At the same time, this achievement has helped …

..bring 4 million more babies and counting into the world.

It has also brought ethical issues that have not been resolved.  According to Lori B. Andrews of the Chicago-Kent College of Law today, “a child can have up to five parents: the sperm donor, the egg donor, a surrogate mother who brings the child to term in her womb, and the couple intending to raise the child. Some laws say the legal mother is the woman who gives birth, but nowadays we can no longer depend on biology to determine the mother.”  And for surrogate mothers, many experts see ethical issues any time human reproduction is mixed with cash payments.

Then there is the point about whether there should there be an age limit on women using IVF.  Remember the Spanish woman in her 60s who made headlines when she gave birth after using IVF, and had twins?  It caused an uproar, and it got even louder when she died two years later.

In the grand scheme, giving this kind of award also continues to reinforce child-centrism. It reinforces the message that in our society it’s all about the almighty baby, and biological ones at that.

I’d like to see international awards for those who find homes for all the children already here. To encourage stronger values on adoption over biology. But that is coming from someone who never felt the biological clock…

Ah the bio clock!  I can’t find any solid evidence that it actually scientifically exists…the person who proves it does or does not would be a fine Nobel winner indeed.

What do you think of the nobel prize in medicine going to Robert Edwards?

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