CHICAGO, August 3, 2012 ( – One former in-vitro fertilization (IVF) expert’s difficult moral journey towards becoming the first of his kind to embrace a new vision of fertility treatment, one in line with his religious faith, began with the intervention of a Catholic priest.

Reproductive endocrinologist Anthony Caruso told the Chicago Tribune July 30 that he began to seriously question the IVF business, in which children are picked and chosen according to physical features and frequently aborted in “selective reductions” of multiple pregnancies, after an encounter with his priest.

Caruso said his parish priest in 2002 asked him to step down from the pastoral council at Christ the King Parish in Lombard, Ill., after the doctor had revealed his work impregnating a lesbian couple in a Tribune article the week before. The Catholic Church teaches that children have a right to be conceived in the marital act of their mother and father.


“That might have been the first salvo,” Caruso said about hearing from the priest that his words and actions violated Church teaching. But, he said, it wasn’t taken as enemy fire.

“I wasn’t angry. I really took what he had to say to heart,” he said.


The change took years, however, with Caruso only leaving the practice eight years later, in 2010. He said in a recent interview that the 2008 release of the Vatican document Dignitatis Personae, which delineates further the rights of children amid the fertility business, was also a major turning point for him.

Caruso said that his conversion is virtually unique among IVF practitioners in the United States, and that his decision has left him with few friends in the field. “To say that my colleagues were disappointed or angry would probably be too strong, but they probably really think that I am insane,” he said. “I fear that I have lost many friendships that I had over the years.”

Nonetheless, the doctor says he remains dedicated to the new vision of the dignity of life he gained through his faith.

“One of the basic purposes of marriage is blurred with IVF,” he said. “Children as gifts from God have become desires and pawns in the life process. … 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.”