Friday, 8 October, 2010

Vatican continues to attack Nobel over IVF award

The Vatican kept up its attack on the Nobel committee yesterday for giving the medicine prize to in-vitro fertilisation pioneer Robert Edwards, saying he had led to a culture where embryos are seen as commodities.

For the second day, it kept up its public criticism of the choice of Edwards, whose success in fertilising a human egg outside of the womb led to "test tube babies" and innovations such as embryonic stem cell research and surrogate motherhood.

The Vatican ratcheted up its negative opinion as several leading Italian newspapers criticised it for its attack on Edwards.

A statement by the Vatican-based International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), said it was "dismayed" at the choice.

"Although IVF has brought happiness to the many couples who have conceived through this process, it has done so at enormous cost," the federation said in a statement issued on Vatican letter head.

"Many millions of embryos have been created and discarded during the IVF process," it said, adding that embryos were being used as "animals destined for destruction".

"This use has led to a culture where they are regarded as commodities, rather than the precious human individuals which they are".

A Vatican official’s initial negative reaction on Monday to the medicine prize being given to Edwards as "completely misplaced" was splashed on front pages of yesterday’s Italian newspapers, with some editorials harshly critical of its stance.

"The devil is not behind Robert Edwards, as the Church seems to suspect, but a passion for science and an attempt to satisfy the desire that women have for maternity," La Repubblica said in an editorial.

"Edwards helped – not damaged – millions of people," said an editorial in the Corriere della Sera while the leftist L’Unita sarcastically ran a headline reading "The Heretic" under a picture of Edwards with two infants born through IVF.

Yesterday’s statement by the Catholic medical federation said that "as Catholic doctors we recognise the pain that infertility brings to a couple" but that research had to be carried "within an ethical framework".