A Catholic Physician Rejects IVF and the Culture of Death
he now sees that [o]ne of the basic purposes of marriage is blurred with IVF.
The reality is that using these improper fertilization technologies that are rejected by the Church cheapens life. What Dr. Anthony Caruso saw happening was the commodification of life, and this truth was brought home to him through the Church's teaching as presented in Donum Vitae. The Church's teaching opened his eyes and he became aware of "the true commodification of the process," which "became obvious in every discussion I had with couples."
There is a great mercy in both confronting and in being confronted, in instructing and being instructed. In some instances, the result is positively redemptive. It is good news when someone accepts the good news.
If you doubt it, witness the story of Dr. Anthony James Caruso, a board-certified endocrinologist who in 2010 had a thriving practice offering assisted reproduction technology at the Chicago Area Reproductive Endocrinology Group and who also taught medicine at University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine.
He was at the top of his game. But he gave it all away, because he realized he was doing wrong.
Caruso became involved in vitro fertilization (IVF) when he saw life created in a petri dish. It brought tears to his eyes, he said, and this led to him to devote his life to IVF and other reproductive technologies with great zeal. After completing his residency in Springfield, Illinois, Caruso specialized in reproductive endocrinology at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Eventually Caruso became one of the most successful reproductive endocrinologists, perhaps bringing in more than 1,000 children through his IVF practice.
Though maintaining himself to be Catholic, Caruso had no scruples in rejecting Church teaching as it related to his medical practice. He was much too fascinated by the perceived or apparent good he felt he was accomplishing to be open to the authentic teaching of the Church. When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith--then headed by Cardinal Ratzinger the future Pope Benedict XVI--came out with its instruction Donum Vitae or "The Gift of Life" in 1987, he thought it unrealistic and overly alarmist.
As Dr. Caruso states in the web page for the St. Anne Center for Reproductive Health, "While I was helping couples conceive by any means possible, I still considered myself a practicing Catholic, with a respectful disagreement about some issues. And I thought that was ok, just like most of my friends."
In one well-publicized instance, however, Dr. Caruso used his skills in impregnating a lesbian couple, and the Chicago Tribune published a story about it in 2002. At the time he was quoted as saying that the lesbian couple "struck me as just as intent and caring as any heterosexual couple that I would see."
When the Chicago Tribune published the article, it crossed the desk of his parish priest at Christ the King Parish in Lombard, Illinois. Caruso happened to be on the pastoral council, but, faced with this article, the parish priest asked Caruso to step down. The priest explained the Catholic Church's teaching that children have a right to be conceived as a result of the conjugal or marital act between husband and wife.
As Caruso put it in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune: "That might have been the first salvo," a salvo which apparently pierced through the false notions of fertility and good that Caruso harbored. "I wasn't angry," he told the Chicago Tribune. "I really took what he had to say to heart."
He took it to heart, but did not act on it.
That "salvo," that admonishment by the parish priest, was just a seed, a seed which had to germinate, to set down its roots, and to grow before it reached full flower.
Gradually, however, some of the more erratic or distasteful side products of reproductive technology--selective reduction through abortions, requests from same-sex couples, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis--began to gnaw on him.
"Things began to change as I started to see things that I thought were not possible, or ignored," Caruso writes. "Multiple combinations of people trying to create a child proved confusing. Embryos were treated with little respect. We started to discard embryos that we used to transfer and create pregnancies. And preimplantation genetics started to stratify embryos (babies) into good, almost good and bad."
After reading the instruction Dignitatis Personae ...
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