One of Britain’s most popular media medicos has suggested that IVF should be banned. Dr Max Pemberton, a columnist for the Daily Mail and a practicing psychiatrist, admits that his views will not win him many friends, but he has grave doubts about IVF.
I have reservations about the very concept of IVF. An entire industry has sprung up around the idea that everyone, regardless of biology, has the right to be a parent.
In the Sixties, the inability to conceive was known as 'involuntary childlessness' and couples had to choose between either adopting or remaining childless.
Now the condition has been given a medical gloss and called 'infertility', a disease that must be cured. But it's a false promise. Sally Cheshire, chair of government watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has warned that older women especially are being exploited by IVF clinics who are 'trading on hope'.
Some unscrupulous clinics extract large sums of money from those desperate to be mothers — despite the fact that they often have the tiniest chance of getting pregnant.
Even for younger women, success is by no means guaranteed. The live birth rate for women under 35 who start an IVF cycle is 40 per cent. For women over the age of 42, the rate is 4 per cent.
Having worked with children in care, I question the ethics of the availability of IVF at all.
My view — which I appreciate is not going to be popular — is that while there are so many children in the world who desperately want and need a loving home, we should not be using technology to create more babies.
I appreciate that many people want to pass on their genetic heritage and are wary of the complex emotional aspects of adopting, especially when it comes to older children.
But adopting a child is an incredible act of grace and love and we should be making it easier for anyone who wants to be a parent, but who can't conceive naturally, to do it.
Children are amazingly resilient providing they have a stable home life. When this is taken away, they crumble and carry the damage into adulthood.
It pains me to think of the children denied the love that they need, while IVF means that many wonderful would-be adoptive parents never even consider it.
Pemberton’s critique on IVF comes from an unusual perspective. He is not obviously Christian; he is definitely not an old fogey and he is openly gay.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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