Life Academy Leader Responds to Nobel Choice

Notes Perplexity at Award for Inventor of In Vitro Fertilization

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ROME, OCT. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life is acknowledging that the winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine is a scientist to be recognized, but he says he would have voted for other candidates.

Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula released a statement in response to Robert Edwards, the doctor who invented in vitro fertilization, winning today the 2010 Nobel for medicine.

The bishop observed that giving the Nobel to Edwards caused "a lot of support and not a little perplexity, as was to be expected."

"Personally," the prelate added, "I would have voted for other candidates, such as [Earnest] McCulloch and [James] Till, who discovered stem cells, or [Shinya] Yamanaka, who was the first to create an induced pluripotent cell (iPS)."

The choice for Edwards, he said, "does not seem entirely out of place" as the 85-year-old retired professor is in line with "the logic followed by the Nobel committee" and is "not a person who can be belittled."

Bishop Carrasco de Paula acknowledged that Edwards "began a new and important chapter in the field of human reproduction," adding that the best results are visible to everyone, "beginning with Louise Brown, the first baby born from in vitro fertilization, who already is in her 30s and is herself the mother of a baby, [conceived] in an entirely natural way."

Nevertheless, the Vatican official contended, there are many causes for perplexity regarding such a choice. He reflected that without Edwards, there would be no market for selling ovums, nor "freezers full of embryos waiting to be transferred to a uterus, or more likely, to be used for investigation or to die forgotten and abandoned by everyone."

Bishop Carrasco de Paula suggested that Edwards "opened the wrong door." The scientist "has not modified the pathological framework and the epidemiological framework of infertility," he affirmed. "The solution to this grave problem will come from a different direction -- less costly and which is already advanced. It is necessary to have patience and have trust in our investigators and doctors."