Tuesday, October 5, 2010

IVF, Stem Cell Research and Morality

Yesterday Dr. Robert Edwards was awarded Nobel Prize (Medicine) for inventing in vitro fertilization (IVF), a technique to fertilize a human egg in a test tube to create an embryo. Using this technique, four million babies have been born and it fulfilled the desire of couples who could not have children otherwise. The Nobel Prize committee specifically quoted the treatment of infertility as the achievement for awarding the prize.

The IVF also helps in Embryonic Stem Cell research. The stem cells extracted from embryos created using IVF may be used for research and potentially treatment. Embryonic stem cells can develop into different kind of cells. Medical research indicates stem cells from embryo can be used to replace any tissue and hence potentially cure Diabetes, Parkinson, Paralysis, Spinal Cord injuries and other diseases. Pro life groups are against it because embryo has life and embryo may be destroyed while extracting stem cells.

Some may argue that adopting an orphan child instead of using IVF to conceive serves society better. On the other hand, Embryonic Stem Cell research to cure variety of diseases is acceptable as embryo is created using IVF and only a few weeks old and potentially more than 8 months away from actual birth. The question - when does a life starts (at conception or at birth) is relevant but is it really so relevant in case embryos created using IVF?

What do you think on:
1. Adopting a child vs. conceiving using IVF
2. Embryonic Stem Cell to find cure of diseases

Links of IVF clinics in RTP Raleigh area:
2. Duke

PS:- Readers / reviewers have commented this sensitive subject with extremely intelligent remarks based on personal experience and knowledge while considering the emotional aspect. Please do read all the comments.

(Disclaimer: - I am a computer professional but interested to know more about Stem Cell Research. The post is based on a layman’s understanding of subject and may not be accurate.)


SG said...

Read your post with interest. I have no opinion because I am not a science material. I would rather discuss vague subjects like language and history. Will wait for other readers' opinion. You will be surprised! SG? Does not have any knowledge or opinion on a given subject? Yes, it is true. I can surprise you sometime.

BK Chowla, said...

I am no authority on this subject.But, I know of a couple very closely who tried the IVF method for 3 yrs after 4 yrs of marriage.I didn't work, despite the best and very expensive medical treatment.
They have now adopted a child.They are happy now.
My grandmother said that birth is at the time of conception.

Bikram said...

No authority on it as i have no clue what it involves but I wud definitely say that my heart says i would go for Adoption give someone a roof on there head

BUt I can also understand to have ones OWN, maybe thats why people go for it , and its expensive..

I would say GOOD LUCK to those couples Hope god listens to them and makes there wish come true..

Bikram's Blog

shuchita said...

I don't have much knowledge about it but am in favor of the stem cell research.
As for adoption vs IVF i don't have any favorites I think it's a personal decision.
I think life starts at birth but may be I will think differently later on, don't have any kids right now

kiran sawhney said...

Trust me, this is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. You have raised up questions that I have myself been seeking answers to. I would rather read your readers comments than give my own answers.

R. Ramesh said...

like bkc says, many friends of mine also spent huge amounts of money on ivf...i also feel adoption is any time better esp of an orphan...but these matters r personal n cant be forced on individuals..i have many friends who have adopted kids n r quite happy...btw..a pat to u for always coming up with interesting subjects..

chitra said...

One my nieces tried the IVF and it failed twice and for another niece of mine it was successful. Every one likes to have a biological child,and hesitate to adopt ,it is a mind set. A friend of my husband he has 2 biological and 2 adopted children. Very few people opt for adoption as they fear about the acceptance of the same in the society.

I also agree with Ramesh , adoption is a personal choice.

Stem cell from embroys- will it harm the baby?. Then a big NO.

Insignia said...

1. As per what I have read and researched. The chances are 50%. The treatment is insanely expensive but with no guarantee. I have heard more failure cases than success

2. Forget the expense, think about the emotional stress the lady goes through. Its depressing and damaging.

3. The medical procedure. The treatment and prepartaion, pushing in hormones into the body; modifying the cycle; is demanding on the women's body and mind. It drains her out.

4. Its a boon. There are success rates and it has given hope to childless couple.

5. Using the stem cells to cure other diseases is welcome. They should improvise and make it available for all; not expensive. Thats when it is totally worth.

6. Adopting is more nobler. It requires guts, strength and broad mindedness to accept a kid as one's own and take care and look after it; without any expectations as one would do for their own child.

7. Birth is at conception :-)

Insignia said...

And again, its all a personal choice. As long as it is fine with everyone; no problem

Anonymous said...

myself is going through IVF 3rd time and in this journey i feel alone as im taking all these nasty harmones.....and my body is in pain...effecting my daily life. as its easy to say to be noble and adopt a child.....i guess its easy for those who are fortunate enough to have kids naturally....on the contrary every women wants to experience .....the journey of keeping the baby in her womb and than enjoy the moments of delivering.....its the most beautiful journey.
So i feel that IVF is a great hope for all those who wants to have a biological child.
Using stem cells from embryo to save lives is a good thing.....
Say.....if you already have kids and you fall pregnant again......there is a huge percentage....i guess....who consider the termination......
on the other hand ....people who are successful in ivf and have number of embryo left.I think its a good thing to be used for other diseases coz anyways its going to be discarded.

Ravi said...

1) Adaption vs. IVF is a purely personal choice (of the mother). When someone has to make this decision, it is already very hard. She deserves full support than a lecture on ethical philosophy.
2) When does life begins - This may sound unscientific for some, but my personal view is that the life begins when the tender feeling of love (concerning the baby) dawns on the mother or the father (assuming that they are normal human beings with some capacity to love).
3) I support stem cell research that saves life.

Amrit said...


In my mind, it is not just scientific matter. It is medical science at its best to make people happy but on the other hand can be used in a way that is not appropriate. Question here is the boundary. The line between science and philosophy blurs here.


As usual you have a valid point and the polite way to share your opinion. Thanks. I don’t think any one of us has authority on this subject except the scientist or the people with the first hand experience.


Yes. Listening to heart is important because at the end that makes you happy anyway. I think most women would want own if I know them right. And I know you listen to your heart.


Thanks. I am in favor of Stem Cell research too but Nobel Prize committee did not acknowledge the use of Dr. Edwards work for this research. I see your point about personal decision about adoption vs. IVF.


We have some answers. Looking at the responses so far, I think people who have the first hand experience are the best source of answers. I think most of us will say ‘personal choice’ and some of us will say ‘personal choice of woman’ for IVF vs. adoption.


I have several friends who have adopted kids and they are very happy BUT all of them have children of their own too. I had a very good friend in India and he was adopted by his parents. Thanks for appreciation about subjects of the posts. For me blogging is kind of learning.


Thanks for sharing experience of your nieces. Everyone likes a biological child->that sums up the point. It seems like there are embryos that are not really going to be used and there are objection to use of that too.


Thanks for clinical review of the post and presenting both side. While IVF is expensive and painful, it still provides hope and potentially treatment of infertility and makes couples happy. On the flip side adopting is indeed noble but requires a different mindset. But at the end, we are talking about normal humans. I have seen parents treating adopted kids as good as their biological kids but they had biological kids prior to adopting.


Thanks for sharing your personal story. Really appreciate it. It is hard to disclose personal story. In all honesty I cannot empathize with you because one really has to experience the similar situation. While going through the painful process, you still feel it is worth because of joy of keeping the baby in womb and delivering, and then it must be worth. Only women or couples who don’t have their own children can understand your dilemma and pain. I agree about not discarding the embryos.


I see your philosophical view of conception but if that becomes the rule, it will give a lot of ammunition to pro life group against using embryos for stem cell research. I agree on personal choice (specially women) and stem cell research.

Kavita Saharia said...

An award very well deserved!
I had my first child after eight years of marriage.I was lucky because i had very strong family support throughout my treatment and also the decision was left on me to choose if i wanted to continue the treatment or if wanted to adopt.Coming from a medical background i had a friendly terms with all my doctors.After all this ,it was still very hard.There were some very low moments but i tried my best to keep a positive frame of mind as i wanted to experience the whole process of child bearing and giving birth.In my case IVF was not required but during those years of treatment i met many couples who had undergone IVF.Some succeeded and some did not.Some chose to adopt after a certain period.I think its a personal choice.I would have adopted a child if my treatment had failed .Adoption was my second choice ,honestly .

I fully support stem cell research because it is going to treat many diseases and save many lives in future.I lost my 42 yrs old sister-in-law to Leukemia three years back.My husband's bone-marrow didn't match . Finally she found one donor but the donor backed out right before the surgery.She agreed to three rounds of trial drugs which left her very weak .She was shifted to Minnesota for cord cell transplant-sadly the transplant failed and we lost her .There was a lot of talk about stem cell research then --it is believed that human embryonic cell can create cancer killing cells. With out a second thought me and my husband would have donated our eggs/sperm for embryo cell trial if it was needed .In future too i would not hesitate to donate for any unknown recipient .

Punam said...

I think Embryonic stem cell research to find a cure for diseases is a path-breaking discovery in modern day science. If a procedure can help regrow an amputated arm, there can not be anything else equaling it's correctness. More should be done in the same. Definitely.

As for adoption vs conceiving with IVF, definitely adoption!! I don't know what the big deal is about having an own child, but adoption is the best form of charity because here, you are not throwing money at needy and forgetting the next moment.. here, you are giving you time, effort, love and hard work to nourish a child who is homeless/abandoned. That is a lifelong commitment and it is the BEST and truest form of self-less love an individual can show.

Nice post and thought-provoking questions.. Punam

Amrit said...


Thanks for sharing your personal story. I think personally also I would not hesitate to donate if required. I always sign up for blood donation and have signed up organ donation. I agree with regard to Stem Cell research and I feel good that a person far more knowledgeable (because of medical background) than me commented on my post.


Thanks for the compliment.

I am in full agreement with Embryonic Stem Cell research. With regard to adoption, please see comments from Kavita and Anonymous. To be honest, comments from Anonymous made me emotional. As Anonymous points it is easy for normal people to say "adopt" but as she says “every woman wants to experience the journey of keeping the baby in womb and enjoy the moments of delivery”. Personally for me, it is very hard to give a counter argument to this statement.

A New Beginning said...

A, I guess both have their own importance, having a child is the most beautiful feeling in the world and adopting one also makes a sincere parent, bringing happiness in the lives of those who have been deprived of it...with happiness I mean parental love and care, which is very important to bring up a child.
Both are beautiful feelings, can't give anyone of them an upper hand but the feeling of becoming a mother with a little life growing in your womb bring immense joy.

Urmi said...

Its a totally personal choice. As I do not have kids so I am not having much idea about this. Good post.

Anonymous said...

IVF or adoption? It is a personal choice but I would have definitely gone for adoption,if needed. My kids are small, when they are bigger we are planning to adopt one. Giving better chances to a kid already in this world is nobler for me than spending money for IVF. My kid or others, they are all kids. Character of kids are determined a lot by the circumstances they live though intelligence is not so. May be the fear of unknown is what makes some couples hesitant to adopt.

Stem cell research..I am all for it. My organs are already donated and I have told my kids and partner that the first thing they should do if something happens to me is to inform the concerned hospital. If my organs are of no use to me, let some one else make use of it. I dont think i might need my eyes, heart, kidneys and body in the other world.

raji said...

@ "A" what an interesting post !you have ignited my mind to think repeatedly.But what my inner instinct says is that it's absolutely ok to have embroyinic cells to treat for dieseases ,since it is for a noble cause ,and that too since it is from IVF ,it is not a natural process,and so tha emotional mother -kid bond /father kid bond is not so strong as compared to the womb .
Also contrarily,IVF conception is the ideal way to concieve for those who want to have "their own baby".adoption is a nice way,but given an option ,i would prefer "my own";this is a honest answer;but i wouldnt be against adoption.That is a nice way too ..culture and values can be inbuilt to any child,no matter it is an orphan.

raji said...

@ stranger .good ,u have a noble cause there,by having ur organs donated after you.god bless.

raji said...

@ A,question as to "when does life start? i feel with the appearence of te first heart beat,that is at 40 days(5to 6 weeks) or so,.."life " starts .

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

I'm not sure if I think one form is better than another; it all depends on circumstance. I do think it's sad that any idiot can have a child but that you have to prove all sorts of things in order to be able to adopt one however.

As for when life starts, for me this is closely tied with the whole abortion issue. To me, life doesn't really start until you are born (well, maybe a bit before this). At least, I believe that the life of the mother is always more important than the life of an unborn, theoretical baby. But I think I'm going to get crucified for this opinion. What can I say?

Amrit said...


Thanks for the comment. That is a very good approach to look at things. Both options are good. It is very positive attitude.


Sure it is a personal choice (I guess of more so of women)


See comments from Anonymous, Chitra and Kavita. Though adoption is an option, it seems at least of one ‘own’ is still the first choice for a lot of women. But reading your comments, you are likely to adopt also and it is great you have signed up for organ donation. That is the best thing we can do for society. Better than any leader or politician.


Thanks for compliment. Honest comments! I agree. I anticipated different people to have different opinion. But I have a feeling if you ever adopt, you will not differentiate. My personal experience is people who admit the potential issues handle them the best. So if you think there is possibility of not developing emotional bond with an adopted child, you will find a way to overcome it. People who ignore the issues, don’t deal with them right. Heart beat is a good way to describe the start of life. I think even pro life would agree with it.


Yes. Adoption is not an easy process. A few of my friends have adopted children and I know they have to deal with a lot of red tape and several agencies. Several checks are made and partly they want to ensure honesty on couples opting for adoption. I completely agree with you life of ‘mother’. With the grace of god, I never been to this situation but no doubt mother’s life is more important than unborn baby. I think most people would agree with that.

NRIGirl said...

I believe life begins at conception. Can't judge if adoption is better than IVF or vice versa.

It all depends on if you are a good Mommy material. I honestly truly appreciate all adoptive parents. Their love is great and so is their reward.

However if it had happend to me, I would have tried for IVF... Enough said I believe.


Punam said...

A: It is definitely not easy to say 'Adopt'. (At least nor for me). As for adoption, there are complications that come up later in life when the child grows up, apart from psychological adjustments the parents have to make for the child. Yet, it is a brave thing to do.

There are reasons why a girl would forfeit the joys of nourishing a baby in her womb. Big reasons. Motherhood is something every girl is emotional about.

I've tagged you. Would you like to take this up?


Tanvi said...

I do not have any first hand experience in either areas but as everyone 'personal choice' is a clear determinant ... but something besides the topic and NOT versus IVF but in general I am a BIG supporter of adoption since my teenage actually. Wouldn't go in much detail since it is not relevant to the post.

Also, I am in favor of Stem Cell research.

R. Ramesh said...

thanks buddy:)

SM said...

Not expert, but its choice of husband and wife.
it may or may not help the couple just like any other treatment.
Still reading more about this topic.

Amrit said...


Adoption is brave and as you and others have mentioned the journey in the womb is clearly very important to most women. I will take up the tag soon.


Thanks. I respect your opinion about adoption without considering the IVF factor.


I don't believe many of us are expert. I agree about your treatment.


I have noticed every reader has been very careful with comment considering the sensitivity of the topic. I appreciate that. )

Pop Culture Curry said...

IVF vs Adoption is a personal choice. I am an adopted child - love my parents to pieces, but I have family members who have undergone IVE and my niece is living testament to the joys that IVF has brought couples :D

Stem Cell Research. I know a man who is this close to being able to walk after two years of stem cell therapy. Being in a wheelchair kind of sucks, so anyone fighting for the rights of that embryo might want to stop for a while and think about the pain of a life without your legs ... just a thought...

Amrit said...

@Pop Culture Curry,

Thanks for sharing so personal information. You have seen all aspects of this. I am glad you stopped by and left this comment.

I fully agree about Stem Cell Research. Thanks once again.