In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ART): Pandora's Box Now Opened

Dianne N. Irving
April 16, 2012
Reproduced with Permission

With only a couple of hours to produce these requested comments, I will simply summarize in outline form just a very few of the profoundly unethical consequences that IVF and ART have already wrought that Croatia might prudently consider. Implications of what other purposes lie ahead involving IVF/ART would not require advanced degrees. Extensive references for documentation available on request. The following doesn't even need to appeal to any religious or theological doctrines - just empirical facts --, although the religious and theological considerations of the people are also quite relevant.

Of utmost concern to this writer is that researchers and affiliated others will especially purposefully seek out countries with few or no laws or regulations on IVF/ART and related activities, and a populace that is totally unfamiliar and unschooled in even the "basic" vocabulary required to consider or debate such IVF/ART facilities rationally or intelligently. The reasons for seeking such countries are obvious.

It is critical to understand that we are not looking simply at artificially fertilizing a human embryo in the research laboratory or "infertility" clinic (IVF) - which I will refer to as "sexual reproduction". We are also looking at many other kinds of human reproductive techniques (ART) that also take place in the same labs and clinics that do not use the process of fertilization - which I will call a-sexual reproduction". (In fact, one such case of a-sexual reproduction, monozygotic or identical "twinning", also takes place naturally within the woman's body in vivo). And today it is already possible to reproduce new human embryos, and new human "eggs" and sperm, from any kind of human cell [See Irving, "Any Human Cell - iPS, Direct Programmed, Embryonic, Fetal or Adult - Can Be Genetically Engineered to Asexually Reproduce New Human Embryos for Purposes of Reproduction ('Infertility')" (November 2011), at:].

Common to both methods of human reproduction the following consequences have already been accomplished. Usually it is accompanied by very "hyped" expectations for "curing diseases" or "curing infertility" which never materialize but which appeal to the sympathies of people, especially to disease group advocates and politicians, as well as by the use of false scientific facts of human embryology so as to hope that what is really taking place not be identified by non-scientists.

It is always quite difficult to look back at earlier considerations such as allowing IVF and ART and acknowledge that it was a huge mistake. But frankly that is precisely what is needed now, and fast. The "cure" for "infertility" must not be sought in technology, but in reassessing the most basic and commonly acknowledged natural law moral foundations in society and character-building that would prevent 99% of such massive infertility that we see today.

Respectfully submitted,

Prof. Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
Former NIH bench research biochemist/biologist
Professor of the History of Philosophy and Medical Ethics