Change of heart
In 2010 an eminent Chicago IVF doctor left his practice of creating babies in Petri dishes. This is his story.
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?