IVF has always been a form of human experimentation—which costs the subject’s (the baby) parents a lot of money—since we jumped head first into the technology without fully knowing the potential consequences. And now, decades later, we are finding that people born from IVF have greater health risks. From a column by Art Caplan:
An article just published in the highly respected journal Fertility and Sterility ought to give anyone thinking about using “test tube” baby technology pause. A review of 124,000 children born through two very common infertility treatments — in vitro fertilization, creating embryos in a dish and transferring them to a womb and ICSI, in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg — showed large increase in the risk of having a child with a birth defect. The risk was 37 percent higher than that seen in children made the old fashioned way. That is a huge number.
Caplan is no social conservative and is a strong supporter of IVF. Still, he says that this information is important for informed consent.
That said, the large risk factor now on the table needs to be a key part of how everyone thinks about making babies in medical settings. The authors of the study say they do not know why the risk is so large. And it has taken far too long for this question to get asked. We need to be sure that long-term monitoring of children born by means of infertility treatment is routine and that more research is done into the causes of health problems for kids who cannot make choices about facing risk.
Right he is. And that is because they are living experiments.
Remember, there are some neo eugenicists who claim that all children should be required to be created in a Petri dish in order to permit health testing and human enhancement. Moreover, IVF has led to assembly line values and procreation as a consumer activity—not to mention dangers to women who sell or donate their eggs. Then there is the problem of “gestational carriers,” biological colonialism, and the me-me, I-I attitudes that have developed around the technology, such as Octomom.
Just because IVF can be done, and just because it is (and should remain) legal (but tightly regulated), doesn’t mean it should be done. So many children desperate to be adopted!