Wednesday, September 3, 2008

IVF, Eugenics and Dr Edwards

Some 30,000 women seek IVF treatment every year, even though the success rate is only about 15% and the treatment itself places a huge burden on the woman. Besides the serious health risks involved such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, the emotional and financial strain causes many couples to abandon treatment prematurely.

Behind the pictures of smiling IVF practitioners cuddling newborn babies, there is the little-told story of the greed, power and callous indifference of many practitioners to their patients. An article in the Independent published shorly after Louise Brown's 25th birthday stated:
"It is interesting to note that almost all the big names in this business are male. I found only four women IVF doctors, and two of them agreed that the inordinate power of some practitioners was making proper regulation almost impossible. Embryologists and other specialists have, off the record, told me that many disallowed techniques were being used in some clinics, and that this information was concealed during HFEA inspections."

As to the patients themselves, "they were scathing about the commercialisation, ruthless speed, motives and lack of care during and after procedures."

It is sad but not surprising in the current climate, that there are calls for the father of this exploitative and unethical industry, Professor Robert Edwards, to be given a special honour for his part in the killing of millions of human embryos and the pain and emotional distress caused to thousands of women. This is a man who has claimed that it will soon be 'a sin' for a woman to give birth to a disabled child and 'burden society'.

However, with the exception of No Less Human, I have not heard any disability rights groups denounce Dr Edwards' eugenicist comments, just as remarkably few journalists have the courage to investigate and challenge the public image of IVF practitioners as caring, altruistic and responsible. It therefore falls to the humble blogger to circulate the information the media and the medical establishment do to have the courage to release.