February 20, 2024

Leading French IVF specialist alarmed at fertility developments

One of France’s leading IVF experts appears to be having a change of heart about his specialty. René Frydman has no ethical objections to IVF, but he is dismayed by the social consequences.

In a recent interview about his new book, La Tyrannie de la reproduction, in Le Figaro, he says that the fertility industry’s belief that “everything is possible” is alarming. “I have seen many couples exhaust themselves in this hellish quest for a child. People who have no chance persist, resorting to heavy and exhausting techniques whose merits can be contested. … How many times have I heard a sigh of relief from patients whom I told that there was no more hope?”

He says that people have to be aware of their limits:

The desire to have children is a wonderful thing which I have defended all my life. But this desire does not give a right to a child. I am against reproductive harassment. I see people destroying themselves. In France, we have an extremely generous system of medically assisted procreation reimbursed by Social Security, with four attempts covered (knowing that each attempt costs 5,000 euros). This does not, however, give a right to a child, only to support. Doctors are not meant to obey [patients’] wishes at the press of a button. It’s not automatic. There is also hubris on the part of the medical profession. The doctor who says “I’m going to give you a child”, who feels invested with omnipotence, like the American doctor who implanted eight embryos in the body of a woman who gave birth to octuplets, the famous “Octomom.”

He also has serious reservations about surrogacy:

Many people do not want to see that this is an exploitation of women’s bodies, which is paradoxical at a time when we claim to protect them from sexual assault. But it undoubtedly is. I have carried out more than 3000 deliveries, I know what I am talking about. A bond is created during pregnancy and childbirth which makes the separation between the child and the person who carried it cruel. We have also done everything to avoid it: we now put the child immediately near his mother, we practice skin to skin, we advise breastfeeding. And with surrogacy, we [deliberately] organize this separation.

We talk a lot today about the difficulties of pregnancy and childbirth (various ailments, episiotomy, postpartum blues, etc.), but strangely all of this disappears when we talk about surrogate mothers.

When you interview those who benefited from it, whether they are homosexual or heterosexual, and who had a very strong desire to have children, which we can completely understand, everything goes very well. But resorting to a third person to satisfy one’s desire, and the risk of causing imbalances in this person, is not fair.