There is something quite ironic in this week’s award of the Nobel Prize to Robert Edwards for the development of human in vitro fertilisation. During decades in which the whole thrust of reproductive medicine was to render fertile women infertile for 99 per cent of the time, Dr Edwards and later his colleague Patrick Steptoe were perfecting techniques for turning infertile women into mothers.
And yet these two grand projects are only apparently contradictory. Both pushed medicine away from its basic curative function and towards a social engineering role: efficient contraception would suppress bodily rhythms to make every child a wanted child; IVF would make wanted children appear even when the body was not fit to conceive.
In pursuing this path, both contraception and IVF gave birth to a new and arrogant attitude to human beings at the very beginning of their lives and in their dependent years.
Read it all here.