Sir Robert Edwards, a Nobel Prize winner and pioneer of in vitro fertilization, died last week at age 87. The work he did in developing in vitro fertilization enabled many women with forms of infertility to conceive and bear children.
Yet much of the Edwards' work remains controversial.
In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Robert P. George examines three categories of Edwards’ critics: people worried about overpopulation, certain feminists who regard Edwards’ work as turning women into machines for incubation and “proponents of the sanctity-of-life ethic, for whom Edwards's experiments to perfect IVF and the actual clinical practice of in vitro involve the deliberate taking of nascent human life.”
For George, one real question surrounding Edwards’ work is who is in charge? Edwards himself stated that his work was “about more than infertility" and “whether it was God Himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory" who was in control. Edwards supposed his IVF technology provided the answer: "It was us." But according to George, “The real question of ‘who is in charge’ cannot be resolved by proving that something is technically possible. Rather it is whether it is right to or wrong — consistent with or contrary to the dignity of the human being — to do what it may well be technically possible to do.”
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