A Longtime Practitioner of IVF Repudiates the "Making" of Babies

William E. May
(c) 2012 Culture of Life Foundation.
Reproduced with Permission
Culture of Life Foundation

Dr. Anthony Caruso practiced IVF for 15 years, and for the final 10 had a thriving practice in Chicago. In 2008 he abandoned this practice and gave superb reasons for doing so. He was interviewed in September 2010 by MercatorNet, an organization that seeks to reframe ethical and policy debates in terms of human dignity, not dollars and cents or political calculation. It is accessible at http://www.mercatornet.com. This blockbuster interview has been totally ignored by the secularist media that dominates our society.

The event that triggered Caruso's conversion

This was his reading of the Document, Donum Vitae: Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on February 27, 1987, which unequivocally condemned as gravely immoral all procedure, such as IVF, that generated new human life by substituting new reproductive techniques for the conjugal or marital act that unites husband and wife in a love-giving union that is fit for generateing new human life according to God's plan for human existence and happiness. Caruso affirms that this document is beautifully written and used "all current statistics in its analysis."

What most distressed Caruso about IVF and other "new reproductive techniques"?

Caruso speaks eloquently on this, declaring:

"One of the basic purposes of marriage is blurred with IVF. Children as gifts from God have become desires and pawns in the life process. IVF breaks the very tenet of the principle of double effect. The nature of the act is not good. The good effect is a wanted child. However, that desire does not outweigh the negative nature of the act. One need look no further than the way in which embryos are treated to see this."

By the very tenet of the principle of double effect, which recognizes that our acts can have two effects, one good, the other bad, and that the bad effect can be permitted if, and only if, it is foreseen but is in no way willed or chosen but is not the precise object of immediate end of one's choice. But in IVF and other new reproductive techniques "making a baby" to satisfy the desires of others, however noble or good these desires might be, is gravely immoral because, as Donum Vitae helped Caruso to see, it treats the baby not as a person but as a product subject to quality controls and disposable if it does not measure up to some arbitrary standards.

People who use IVF, etc. to get a baby inevitably come to view babies as commodities

Caruso became convinced that the process used to bring the baby such people "want" into existence "has led to an attitude towards the embryo that is no different than any other commodity. If you add pre-implantation diagnosis into the equation, then you really have a situation that is no different than an auto dealership or a department store."

Harms IVF can cause women

This is a very important matter, never discussed by the fertility clinics engaging in IVF, etc. or major media. But Caruso takes this issue up in some detail. He is worth quoting at some length on this.

The data is slowly coming in...it is well-known that there are dangers in over-stimulating a woman's ovaries. Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome can be severe, especially in the environment of a pregnancy. Though the other immediate risks are very small, there is a risk of bleeding, injury to the intestines and infection. There is also a risk of blood clots and their sequelae. The long-term effects are now slowly coming into focus. Remember, the first IVF pregnancy was in 1978, but the first IVF pregnancy from a stimulated ovary was in 1981. That was only 30 years ago and the women going through that procedure are largely just entering the age of chronic disease. One study from the Netherlands suggests that 15 years after an IVF pregnancy, there is an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

The websites of IVF clinics feature joyful stories about couples who are finally cuddling their bundle of joy. But are there features of IVF practice which are kept from the public?

Of course, that is the focus that keeps the public happy. Babies are happy things! But most people only know that part of it. They don't know anything about the drugs and the process that leads to the babies. And we don't discuss it openly because if we did, I think more of us would be against it.

IVF is a business, not medicine

Caruso concludes that IVF "does not cure infertility. It bypasses the barriers to natural fertility. As such, it is really a business. Just think about the number of clinics that offer cash-back programs. They guarantee that if the couple does not conceive within a certain number of cycles, they will get some or all of their money back. Where is the 'medicine' in that?"


MercatoNet's interview with Caruso is a splendid expose of IVF and other new reproductive technique clinics, but is above all a superb presentation of the meaning of the marital act as a love-giving union open to the gift of new human persons who are begotten, not made.