Gingrich proposes investigation of IVF clinics

Bioethics is playing a walk-on role in the drama of the Republican primaries. Newt Gingrich has expressed his opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research and has called for an investigation of practices in IVF clinics. He believes that human life begins at conception.

Gingrich’s stand on embryonic stem cell research has shifted over the years but he now says that he would ban all embryonic stem-cell research, including research done on surplus embryos created by IVF clinics. In his words, it amounts to “the use of science to desensitize society over the killing of babies.”

He also plans to form a commission to study the ethics of in vitro fertilization. “I believe life begins at conception, and the question I was raising was what happens to embryos in fertility clinics, and I would favor a commission to look seriously at the ethics of how we manage fertility clinics,” Gingrich said at a news conference at a Baptist church in Florida. “If you have in vitro fertilization, you are creating life; therefore, we should look seriously at what the rules should be for clinics that are doing that, because they are creating life.”

Predictably, the notion of questioning IVF was ridiculed. The liberal website ThinkProgress ran the news under the headline: “Gingrich Suggests It’s Immoral For Couples To Conceive Children Through In Vitro Fertilization”. But in Time magazine, columnist Bonnie Rochman thought it had some merit. What is going to be done with the hundred of thousands of embryos in frozen in the storage tanks of IVF clinics?

After his failure to overtake frontrunner Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Florida primary, Gingrinch’s star seems to be fading. But his effort to back restrictions on tinkering with embryos could influence policy in a Romney Administration. ~ Washington Post, Jan 30

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