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IVF Babies, It’s Only Natural: Dolce (of Dolce & Gabbana) Can Have His Opinions

In spite of what Signore Dolce thinks, IVF babies are not “synthetic”

Could anything be more natural than a computer? Or my smartphone? How about this piece of Dove chocolate I’m about to eat?Woman holding one of her IVF babies to her face | Tennessee Reproductive Medicine | Chattanooga

I’m dead serious.

My thoughts returned to this after witnessing the epic dust-up between Domenico Dolce (of Gabbana and Dolce) and much of the IVF community. In case you haven’t heard, in an interview with the Italian publication Panorama, Dolce expressed an opinion that IVF babies are bambini sintetici, or synthetic babies. (I translated the whole thing in Google.)

In the broader context he was talking about family and reproduction, saying we should only do what is “natural” and not help create IVF babies.

His words cut many people deeply.

Couples with infertility already feel defective, or abnormal. His words only serve to reinforce this. And worse, he gave a marginalized name to children of assisted reproduction.

Truthfully, I believe Signore Dolce is entitled to his opinion and he is not alone in this view. After seeing the hurt he caused, he has backtracked … a little. Naturally.

Is being a fertility doctor attempting to play God? Not in our book. Want to talk to Dr. Murray about your fertility journey?

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Helping create IVF babies is not playing God

I can understand how Signore Dolce may get hung up on “natural.” It is not an uncommon point of view from people who either don’t want children, or who haven’t experienced infertility.

When I was in residency a nurse asked me what I was going to do for a career. I told her I wanted to be a reproductive endocrinologist.

As she looked back at me, disgusted. “Why would you want to do THAT?” she asked. “It’s so immoral. It’s playing God.”

She proceeded to lecture me along these lines for several minutes before finally concluding that if people weren’t meant to have kids then they should not have them and they had no right to be parents. She said all of this without knowing my story.

This nurse did not know that my wife and I had already failed to get pregnant for six years on our own — that we had failed to get pregnant with four fresh IVF cycles and countless frozen embryo transfers. She had never been there when we got the sickening phone calls letting us know our pregnancy test was negative… again, and again, and again…

She had never witnessed our sorrow, our heartache.

I could not hide the hurt in my eyes or in my voice. I said something like, “I know you don’t know what my wife and I have been through, but what you just said is one of the cruelest things anyone has ever said to me. You’re saying it would be immoral for me to be a parent. You’re saying my wife and I should suffer when there is therapy to end that suffering.”

Likely for the first time in her life, she saw the consequences of what she “believed” in context of an actual human being.

I walked away.

I later received a genuine apology from her, which I accepted.

It was pain that led to her change. I guess that’s only natural.

But it’s not just people who have never experienced infertility or who don’t want kids who struggle with the concept of what is natural

Truthfully, many of our patients struggle with this as well. We have a lot of patients who are uncomfortable with the idea of IVF.

Many of them say, “I don’t want to play God.”

Our reply is simple: you and I can play God, but we can’t be God. We can get eggs out of a woman. We can inject them with sperm. But we can’t force an egg to fertilize. We can nurture it while it grows. We can place an embryo in a uterus, but we can’t make it implant.

It’s important to remember that infertility is a malady and – in most cases – we have the tools to overcome it. Most people see no problem in getting surgical and medical treatment for cancer, heart disease or thyroid disorders.

Chemotherapy is not most people’s idea of “natural.” But it is their idea of a normal thing to do.

This gets me back to my original thought

Not everything is normal. Not everything is average. But everything on this planet is natural. There is nothing made by human hands that is unnatural.

As a human, I am part of nature. Everything I do is part of nature. Kevlar is a natural product if man made it. It is the height of vanity to assume that what man has made is above or outside of nature.

To say an automobile is unnatural is to say an anthill is unnatural. The anthill was constructed. It’s primitive, but constructed.

I’m not making an argument that everything we, as people, do is good. Perhaps some people should not be parents. But people in a loving, committed relationship, who are capable of nurturing a child in a loving and committed way… this is good.

My children were conceived with IVF, however they were not conceived outside of nature. They were – and are – the product of a loving, committed relationship. What could be more natural?