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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

IVF Needs to be Regulated



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There is a paranoid article in the Topeka Capital Journal asserting that “haters” of IVF may have the practice “in the crosshairs,” not because any legislative proposals have actually been filed or proposed, but because of the new Kansas law that symbolically states that human life begins at fertilization. (Isn’t it funny how the “pro science” side bridles so often at accurate biological science?)

In any event, I hope it is. No, I don’t want it “banned,” which the article implies is in the wind, but regulated properly. Beyond statistical issues, IVF is almost wholly unregulated in this country. That needs to change, considering the many important ethical issues at stake, including:

  • Informed consent requirements for egg donors, a process that can be dangerous to health and life.
  • The practice of buying eggs from women, which ounce-for-ounce, may be the most valuable commodity in the world.  If human cloning is ever achieved, tens of thousands of eggs will be needed to perfect the technology, only making matters worse.
  • Paid surrogacy, which can exploit poor women;
  • The dehumanization of surrogates into “gestational carriers,” and the emotional impact of surrogacy on the women who give birth.
  • Biological colonialism, using destitute women in the developing world for procreative purposes.
  • Eugenic embryo selection, including for sex selection or to be disabled;
  • The potential to make “three parent” babies;
  • The potential for genetic engineering of embryos;
  • The creation of hundreds of thousands of “extra” embryos that are either frozen, destroyed, or used as a natural resource in research;
  • Embryo selling;
  • Embryo adoption
  • Whether IVF should be paid by health insurance or government benefits for the infertile;
  • Whether gay and lesbian couples should have paid access to IVF even if fecund;
  • Using IVF to make “anchor babies” who are U.S. citizens.

Despite these (and other) issues, any attempt to regulate the field are throttled a’borning by the rich industry that uses its big financial war chest and the intense emotionalism around childbearing to remain powers onto themselves.



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