‘Amazing science’? New, less expensive IVF techniques lauded

BBC News reports two new in vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques. The first is a screening technique for embryos developed at Oxford University, and the second is a new process that replaces expensive medical equipment with more basic ingredients developed by the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology.

The screening technique has been hailed as "amazing science" since it promises a higher chance of success paired with lower costs. While screening is available to help increase these odds (only one in every three IVF attempts is successful due to DNA abnormalities), it traditionally has been expensive, costing thousands of dollars. This new technique can reveal the number of chromosomes as well as other biological information at approximately two-thirds of current pricing.

The new IVF process with "kitchen cupboard" ingredients has a similar success rate to traditional IVF, and it reduces costs from thousands of dollars to hundreds. The process uses inexpensive citric acid and bicarbonate of soda instead of carbon dioxide incubators, medical grade gas and air purification to produce the carbon dioxide necessary to control acidity levels.

The issue of IVF is not new to the Catholic Church, and it has remained firm in its position that it is morally unacceptable. Many people, however, balk at this position. Some people see Catholic teaching as outdated, and others may even see IVF and similar techniques as the only option.

"People think they're taking a step backward when they follow Catholic teaching," said Dr. Paul Carpentier, founder of In His Image Family Medicine in Gardner, Mass., in an article for the July 21 issue of OSV Newsweekly. "But it's really a step forward — a step toward being healthier, toward being more successful, whether you’re dealing with infertility or family planning; a step toward stronger marriages, stronger families, a stronger community."

Carpentier offers NaProTechnology services instead of contraception and IVF. According the OSV Newsweekly article: "NaProTechnology is a medical approach to reproductive and gynecological health, developed 30 years ago by Dr. Thomas Hilgers, founder of the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction. Using a standardized system to track a woman’s biomarkers, a trained physician can diagnose and often cure infertility and other abnormalities, such as PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), PMS, repetitive miscarriage, irregular bleeding and other health problems."

Carpentier offers a refreshing look at reproductive services, one of "beautiful" science that says "yes" to God, his Church and the "true beauties of a relationship."

Read more about it here.

Also read president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services Caroline Woo's column about using NFP as a vital anti-poverty and health tool.

Here are some other helpful resources about the Church’s teaching on IVF and other life issues:

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.