Change of heart: Eminient Chicago IVF doctor quits practice of creating babies in Petri dishes
April 24, 2012 (MercatorNet.com) - Dr Anthony J. Caruso is a Chicago doctor who worked in the field of in vitro fertilisation for 15 years before he quit in 2010. We interviewed him by email about the reasons for his change of heart.
MercatorNet: You ran a successful IVF practice in Chicago for ten years. Why did you leave?
Anthony Caruso: I was a member of several infertility practices since joining the field in 1995. In 2008 I was increasingly concerned about the kind of procedures we were doing. Initially it was the demands of same-sex couples. Then it was the way in which everybody looked at the embryos that had undergone pre-implantation genetic diagnosis.
Finally, it was the realization that the embryos that we were producing were just as important as the embryos that were transferred. I could not change my practice to accommodate the way I was looking at the process. I wish I could say that I had an “Aha!” moment, but I left my last position largely due to financial realities. They needed to pare salaries and I was next to go.
How did your colleagues react?
The reaction came at an officers’ meeting of the Chicago Association of Reproductive Endocrinologists. I was the President-Elect and I resigned at the officers’ meeting because of my religious and ethical positions. To say that my colleagues were disappointed or angry would probably be too strong, but they probably really think that I am insane. I fear that I have lost many friendships that I had over the years.
Is there one event that crystallised your decision to stop?
The reading of a 2008 document from the Vatican, Dignitas Personae, was the first blow. That instruction is written beautifully, and uses all of the current statistics in its analysis.
Bioethically speaking, what distressed you most about the process of IVF?
One of the basic purposes of marriage is blurred with IVF. Children as gifts from God have become desires and pawns in the life process. IVF breaks the very tenet of the principle of double effect. The nature of the act is not good. The good effect is a wanted child. However, that desire does not outweigh the negative nature of the act. One need look no further than the way in which embryos are treated to see this.
Do most people understand the stress that IVF brings with it?
Absolutely NOT. People who are going through IVF largely refuse to seek emotional or psychological support. And people who have not gone through the process do not understand what it entails. Perhaps the most interesting response that I have gotten to the presentations I am giving is from those who did not know exactly what happened during this process. Once they learn, the spectrum goes from rationalization to horror.
“Every child is a wanted child” is a slogan for IVF clinics. But does that mean that children become commodities?
What you see in this statement is the problem. One of the reasons for the delay in my response to your questions was a challenge that I was involved with to an IVF clinic being proposed within one block of a Catholic Church. The first meeting with the city council went well. We were able to make both ethical and practical arguments against the clinic. Once the city council tabled the bill for another meeting, though, you should have seen the number of couples and single people who showed up and showed off their IVF kids!
This is not the issue when it comes to IVF. Every child is a gift from God. However, the process that brought them into existence has led to an attitude towards the embryo that is no different than any other commodity.
If you add pre-implantation diagnosis into the equation, then you really have a situation that is no different than an auto dealership or a department store. “I will take two of these and then freeze these and toss these.” The very people who are showing off their beautiful children will not answer questions about how many frozen embryos are still present or how many they asked to be destroyed.
Also, I doubt that anyone has ever thought how they might describe these things to their children—the fate of their siblings—because they are not seen as such. They are seen as simply a means to an end.
Is selective reduction a common feature of IVF?
Selective reduction [editor’s note: aborting some foetuses in a multiple pregnancy to allow others to grow] is a feature of every IVF consent. Fortunately, it was the rarest discussion I ever had with a couple. However, it is an issue that is slowly growing in popularity. The New York Times recently reported that couples are reducing twins and triplets to singletons. Since the Octomom fiasco, the number of high order pregnancies has dropped as they try to stay more faithfully with the guidelines published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
What happens if a couple learns that a child will not be “perfect”?
There is a spectrum here as well. While many will continue to love their child no matter what, there is a true desire to quickly determine the health of the child, so that, if somehow defective, the option of termination is still viable. What we know now about the possibilities of pre-implantation diagnosis may further change that, with the focus being on the “perfect” genetic child.
Will having an IVF child bring happiness to a couple who have been longing for children?
Hard to answer. Children can salve much unhappiness. Remember, though, couples that go through IVF are approaching the procedure with a mindset of “I want this baby, I need this baby.” One can only surmise what possibilities exist down the road. But, at least on discharge, they seem happy.
What effect does the process of IVF have on women?
The data is slowly coming in. Certainly, it is well-known that there are dangers in over-stimulating a woman’s ovaries. Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome can be severe, especially in the environment of a pregnancy. Though the other immediate risks are very small, there is a risk of bleeding, injury to the intestines and infection.
There is also a risk of blood clots and their sequelae. The long-term effects are now slowly coming into focus. Remember, the first IVF pregnancy was in 1978, but the first IVF pregnancy from a stimulated ovary was in 1981. That was only 30 years ago and the women going through that procedure are largely just entering the age of chronic disease. One study from the Netherlands suggests that 15 years after an IVF pregnancy, there is an increased risk of ovarian cancer. While there are no controlled trials, many reproductive endocrinologists anecdotally describe women who present with breast tumours after IVF stimulation.
The websites of IVF clinics feature joyful stories about couples who are finally cuddling their bundle of joy. But are there features of IVF practice which are kept from the public?
Of course, that is the focus that keeps the public happy. Babies are happy things! But most people only know that part of it. They don’t know anything about the drugs and the process that leads to the babies. And we don’t discuss it openly because if we did, I think more of us would be against it.
Doing IVF is certainly an accomplished technical feat. But is it really medicine if it doesn’t cure infertility? Has it become more a business than medicine?
IVF does not cure infertility. It bypasses the barriers to natural fertility. As such, it is really a business. Just think about the number of clinics that offer cash-back programs. They guarantee that if the couple does not conceive within a certain number of cycles, they will get some or all of their money back. Where is the “medicine” in that?
What do you advise infertile couples to do now?
I encourage people who are having challenges to conception to have faith and ask God for help. There are several clinics in the United States that do offer more natural options. Of course, my own dream is to open a clinic in Chicago that provides care for these couples in line with the ethical and religious directives for Catholic health care. But that is in God’s time and in the hands of the people we are asking to support it.
You participated in an amicus curiae brief recently to the US Supreme Court which warned that “IVF poses an array of serious dangers to women, children, medicine,and society at large”. How is IVF a threat to society? What about the future?
I think I have answered that above. But let me use the words of Dr Robert Edwards, Nobel laureate and laboratory director of the laboratory which “created” the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in 1978. He stated in a 2003 interview with the London Times marking the 25th anniversary of that birth:
“I wanted to find out exactly who was in charge, whether it was God Himself or whether it was scientists in the laboratory - it was us! The Pope looked totally stupid. You can never ban anything. You can say, ‘hang on a minute’. But never say ‘never’, and never say that this is the worst decision for humankind, otherwise you can look a fool. Now there as many Roman Catholics coming for treatment as Protestants.”
He also said in this very enlightening interview that the IVF process was not designed to make couples happy. “It was a fantastic achievement”, he conceded modestly, “but it was about more than infertility. It was also about issues like stem cells and the ethics of human conception.”
In other words, it was the next step to be taken, the next obstacle to be overcome on the road ahead to the Brave New World which technology will bring us. Now, as this ageing scientist looks to the future, he is all in favour of cloning. With regard to pre-natal sex selection (whereby parents would be allowed to abort babies of unwanted gender) he says, “go ahead and use it. Those parents have to raise those children. Why should a politician tell me what I can and can’t do?”
And Dr Peter Brinsden, Edwards’ successor at the Cambridgeshire clinic he founded, predicts that “in 50 years assisted conception will have almost become the norm. This is because screening techniques will have improved to such an extent that parents can make their children free of even minor defects.”
I doubt if many in the field have seen these quotes, and the article itself is difficult to get (I have it through a secondary source). But after meeting Dr Edwards, which I did a few years ago when the University of Chicago conferred on him one of its highest honours, I can believe all of it.
This is a good summary of the problem with IVF and its potential impact on the society at large.
And we haven’t even scratched the surface. We haven’t talked about the donor gametes and the possibilities of progeny to meet somewhere, or more immediately, the effects on the donors themselves, particularly the oocyte donors.
This article by Anthony J. Caruso was originally published on MercatorNet.com under a Creative Commons Licence. If you enjoyed this article, visit MercatorNet.com for more.
Kim Davis defeats ACLU attempt to force her to violate her conscience
ROWAN COUNTY, Kentucky, February 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) - A federal judge has turned down the ACLU's attempt to force Kim Davis to violate her conscience while issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Although Governor Matt Bevin granted a religious accommodation for the county clerk to issue altered marriage licenses to homosexuals, the ACLU brought a lawsuit seeking to force Davis to issue the old forms with her full name on them.
"There is absolutely no reason that this case went so far without reasonable people respecting and accommodating Kim Davis' First Amendment rights," said Mat Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, who is defending Davis. "Today's ruling by Judge Bunning rejected the ACLU's request to hold Kim Davis in contempt of court."
Kim Davis is a born again Apostolic Christian who refuses to issue marriage licenses bearing her name to homosexuals, because doing so would imply her consent and participation in something the Bible deems sinful. "It's a Heaven or Hell decision," she said. Davis contacted state legislators and former Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, seeking a religious accommodation that would alter the form but allow her office to recognize gay unions, to no avail.
Ultimately, she spent six days in jail last September after Judge Bunning held her in contempt of court for refusing to issue the unamended forms.
"Those who are persecuting Kim Davis believe that Christians should not serve in public office," Senator Ted Cruz said after her arrest.
When she was released last September 8, presidential hopefuls Mike Huckabee and Cruz showed up to wish her well.
"Lock me up" in Kim Davis' place, Mike Huckabee said. "Let Kim go."
When Davis returned to work last September 14, she allowed other employees to grant new certificates that did not have her name on them.
Deputy Rowan County Clerk Brian Mason said that Davis “confiscated all the original forms, and provided a changed form which deletes all mentions of the County, fills in one of the blanks that would otherwise be the County with the Court’s styling, deletes her name, deletes all of the deputy clerk references, and in place of deputy clerk types in the name of Brian Mason, and has him initial rather than sign.”
Matt Bevin, the Republican who would be elected governor that November, promptly granted Davis an accommodation and signed the first new regulation on abortion in a dozen years shortly after taking office.
But the ACLU sued to force Davis to issue the old certificates, anyway. Judge Bunning wrote that would be unnecessary.
"There is every reason to believe that any altered licenses issued between September 14, 2015, and September 20, 2015, would be recognized as valid under Kentucky law, making re-issuance unnecessary," wrote Judge David Bunning, a Republican whose father Jim Bunning, was a baseball great and former U.S. senator. "Under these circumstances, the court finds that Plaintiffs’ request for relief is now moot."
Since returning to work, Davis has met with Pope Francis and attended President Obama's last State of the Union address.
"From the beginning we have said the ACLU is not interested in marriage licenses. They want Kim Davis' scalp," Staver said. "They want to force her to violate her conscience. I am glad the court rejected this bully tactic."
Black pastors pray over ‘president-to-be’ Clinton right before she condemns pro-life bill
WASHINGTON, D.C., February 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – After pastors invoked God's blessing upon her presidential run, Hillary Clinton condemned legislation to protect babies in the womb.
The African-American ministers "laid hands" on Clinton and prayed to "decree and declare the favor of the Lord" upon Clinton, who is in a neck-and-neck race with Bernie Sanders for the Democrat nomination for president.
"President-to-Be Clinton, we decree and declare from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet that the favor of the Lord will surround you like a shield, in Jesus's name," they prayed, at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
The Clinton campaign proceeded to vigorously oppose proposed legislation in Oklahoma designed to save pre-born babies.
Oklahoman Thomas Hunter filed for a petition to change the state constitution so that it prohibits any action "that causes the death of an unborn human being" – whether abortion or post-conception "contraception."
Clinton campaign senior adviser Maya Harris came out vehemently against putting Hunter's petition on the state's ballot, calling it "unconstitutional" and "bad for the health of Oklahoma women."
Speaking on behalf of the Clinton campaign, Harris said, "This initiative petition should be challenged and, if it makes it on the ballot, rejected by Oklahomans."
Reaction to the two contradictory acts – the religious blessing and the condemnation of pro-life legislation – was swift and strong among African-American ministers.
"It is shameful to see clergy abandon the principles of the faith and engage in such heretical political pandering," the Reverend Dr. Clenard H. Childress, Jr. told LifeSiteNews. "These clergy represent the problem the church has in the clarity of its message and the demonstration of its worth."
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"There was a time when the church was very powerful – in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed," Rev. Childress, founder of Black Genocide, told LifeSiteNews. "In those days, the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society."
"So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound," Rev. Childress concluded. "So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo."
"Abortion remains the number-one killer of black Americans, higher than all other causes of death combined," Pastor Arnold M. Culbreath, a founding member of the National Black Pro-Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews. "Therefore, it is absolutely critical that blacks become informed, equipped, and provided with resources to end the abortion-related genocide occurring in our communities every day."
"With Hillary Clinton's extreme and consistent pro-abortion views and actions," Pastor Culbreath asserted, "it is a travesty that pastors would be more focused on laying hands on her, rather than challenging her views with credible research and making her aware of the devastating impact abortion is having on black babies, mothers, and families across America. Black lives depend on it!"
"We have the most anti-life president in office now, because Christians put him there," Pastor Walter and Darleen Moss told LifeSiteNews in a joint statement. "Will Christians continue to ignore what may be the most significant issue of the coming presidency – the issue of life?"
"If black lives matter, do black lives matter in the womb?" the Mosses asked. "The greatest curse on this nation results from the shedding of innocent blood from the womb. How can we advance if we keep killing our children?"
Then the Mosses spoke to African-American clergy who toe the Democrat party line. "If these good pastors read their Bibles, they would know that it clearly says, 'Jesus is the LIFE.' Therefore, is not pro-abortion anti-life and anti-Christ? Are we not made in the image of God? Does He not know us in the womb?"
"Pastors may be close to, if not at, apostasy to continue to endorse any candidate who endorses the murder of our children," the Mosses concluded. "That would include Hillary Clinton, a champion for eugenics and Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood, the number-one killer of our babies in the USA and around the world through the United Nations."
Rev. Childress quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against "Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's insidious alliance with Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry": "'Racial discrimination ... relegates persons to the status of things. ... It is a tragic expression of man's spiritual degeneracy and moral bankruptcy.' So it is not surprising to see Hillary Clinton's negative response to recognizing infants as persons and not things."
Hunter's proposed amendment to the Oklahoma constitution would also ban "the deliberate destruction of unborn human beings created in a laboratory."
Hunter, who filed the constitutional petition in Oklahoma, explained to the Tulsa World, "The question is whether or not the Supreme Court ruling that born people have the right to kill unborn people was, in fact, constitutional in the first place."
Gov. Christie, killing rape-conceived babies (like me!) is NOT self-defense
February 9, 2016 (Savethe1) -- Children conceived in rape – like me – took a beating at the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire Saturday evening. Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Jeb Bush had some harsh words regarding the treatment of the innocent child conceived in rape, and I think their rhetoric demonstrates that they're not really committed to ending abortion, but merely doing the bare minimum to win votes from those who identify as pro-life.
For starters, Gov. Christie said, “I believe that if a woman has been raped, that is a pregnancy that she should be able to terminate.” What does he mean by “terminate”? It may come as a surprise to many of you, but I voluntarily terminated three of my pregnancies. My daughters are doing quite well now, after having labor induced. You see, you can terminate a pregnancy and still have a live baby. Normally delivery of a baby is the termination of a pregnancy. Inducing labor or performing a C-section is the premature termination of a pregnancy. But that’s not what Christie is talking about, is it? He’s talking about the termination where you have a dead baby – because he or she is killed. So what he’s saying is that my birthmother – a woman who had been raped – should have been able to kill me. Ouch! That’s not pro-life.
Then he went on to say, “The fact is that we have always believed, as has Ronald Reagan, that we have self defense for women who have been raped and impregnated because of it or been victims of incest and been impregnated for it.” Since he used the tactic of invoking President Reagan, let’s take a look at what Reagan actually said:
Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all Federal funding for abortion and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense. But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them. – Ronald Reagan, State of the Union address, January, 1988
If you’re going to invoke Reagan to bolster your position, you’d better be sure you got that right. But in case mischaracterizing Reagan’s position wasn’t bad enough, Gov. Christie outdid himself with his next statement: “I believe that they do not have to deliver that child if they believe that is an act of self defense by terminating that pregnancy.” “An act of self-defense?!” This is the kind of rhetoric you hear from abortion rights advocates – suggesting that the innocent preborn child is somehow continuing to rape the woman, and therefore, she needs to kill the baby to stop the rape. Gov. Christie, since you recognize my right as a woman to engage in an act of self defense, let me clear up your confusion: I was NOT raping my birthmother! I was not attacking her. I was innocent. I’m pleading my innocence! So here’s my advice to you – punish rapists, not babies. It’s not a difficult concept. This is my act of self defense – quit picking on innocent children like me by suggesting our lives weren’t worth living or protecting, because I fight back and I will defend my life!
Since his remarks Saturday evening, I’ve been inundated with suggestions from people that I need to talk to him and to share my story with him – just like with Gov. Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich four years ago when I changed their hearts during their presidential campaigns. Well, I DID share my story with Chris Christie, at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida in August, 2012. But he’s a different character and hard-hearted. Like in the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew Chapter 13, the seeds did not fall on fertile soil. But then Jesus explained:
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.”
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.”
As if the shots from Chris Christie weren’t enough to dehumanize and demoralize my people group, Gov. Jeb Bush had insults of his own: “I am pro-life but I believe there should be exceptions — rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger.” Any time a politician starts off with “I am pro-life but,” you know he’s not committed to ending abortion. He may do the bare minimum to get pro-life voters to think he’s pro-life, but he’s not someone who is reliable to end legalized abortion, he’s not dependable to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v Wade, and he’s clearly willing to discriminate and to leave the door open for all abortions through gaping loopholes.
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Then Gov. Bush issued the most telling remark – “That belief and my consistency on this makes me, I think, poised to be in the right place — the sweet spot — for Republican nominee.” OUCH!!! Okay, please keep in mind that I’m biting my tongue as I respond to his “sweet spot” remarks. I looked up the definition of “sweet spot,” just so everyone understands how callous his words were, and the first definition to come up is sexual in nature -- “a spot on the body that responds pleasurably to a caress or touch,” and then there’s the sports reference – “the area from which the cleanest shots are made.” Whether Jeb Bush is climaxing at the thought of denying a child conceived in rape her right to life in order to gain him victory as the GOP nominee, or if it’s that he finds the rape victim’s child to be the perfect whipping boy for taking shots at, his remarks are offensive, dehumanizing and demoralizing.
Lastly, Bush said, “Others may have a different view and I respect it.” This isn’t about respecting mere political views -- this is about respecting not just my “view,” but my life! I deserve to be alive, I was worthy of the protection I received pre-Roe v Wade, and others just like me deserve the same opportunity to be born.
If you call yourself pro-life, if you say you believe that the pre-born are persons and therefore, have a right to life under the 14th Amendment due process clause, then you cannot be willing to violate the second part of the 14th Amendment – the equal protection clause, which says that “No state shall deny a person equal protection of the laws.” To do so is not only hypocritical, it’s unconstitutional. And that’s precisely what Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are proposing – to deny persons equal protection under the law.
Recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham has made hurtful remarks calling children like me “the child of the rapist.” I am sure he has no idea how offensive that is to the majority of rape survivors who not only choose life, but choose to raise their children. After everything she’s been through and had to overcome, he has the audacity to suggest that her child is the rapist’s child. We don’t call President Obama “the polygamist’s child,” so stop trying to demonize us in such a manner. Give us our dignity and call us who we are – a rape victim’s child, a child of God, a person with a right to life.
Right now, the only two GOP presidential candidates who support overturning Roe v Wade and who refuse to discriminate against the child conceived in rape are Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Marco Rubio. I’ve met Sen. Rubio in person, and would love to meet Sen. Cruz some day. But I’m also willing to meet with any other candidates, and I do hope that by putting a face, a voice, and a real-life story to the issue, their hearts and minds would be changed so that they’d no longer support the killing of innocent children. There are over 300 hundred of us through Save The 1 who were conceived in rape, mothers from rape, birthmothers from rape and post-abortive after rape. We are thankful for the gift of life, we deserve our dignity, and we want our voices to be heard.
Rebecca Kiessling is a wife, mother of 5, attorney and international pro-life speaker and blogger. She shares her story of having been conceived in rape and nearly aborted at two back alley abortions, but legally protected. She’s the founder and President of Save The 1, co-founder of Hope After Rape Conception, and co-founder of Embryo Defense. Reprinted with permission from Save The 1.
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