Thursday, March 12, 2009

Good and Bad

There has been a lot in the news lately about fertility treatments, thanks to Nadya Suleman (aka "Octomom") and the incredibly irresponsible behavior that resulted in fourteen fatherless children being born into the world. The uproar has been interesting to observe. Everyone suddenly has an opinion about who should and should not be allowed to seek fertility treatment, even prompting legislators in Missouri and Georgia to draft bills limiting the number of eggs that could be fertilized and transferred per IVF cycle (drastically reducing the possibility of a successful pregnancy, and effectively eliminating options like cryopreservation or frozen embryo transfer).

I find it fascinating that people are in such a tizzy over this, not because it is unworthy of a tizzy (as you know, I certainly had my own), but because very few people seem to be concerned about how babies come into the world the "normal" way - whether it's teens having babies or "committed" couples who aren't committed enough to sign a marriage license, most people say "we shouldn't judge", "times have changed", "you don't need a ceremony to be committed to someone", "everyone has a right to have a child", etc. And yet, throw one irresponsible woman and her equally irresponsible doctor into the mix and the non-judgmental crowd goes judgmentally ballistic.

I've read most of the comments accompanying recent news articles, and I would say that of the thoughts I've read, more people than not are concerned about fertility treatments, and very few of them have been armed with the facts. Their concern is simply a knee-jerk reaction to one disturbing case of fertility treatment gone wrong.

Many commenters take the opportunity for a good old-fashioned, holier-than-thou rebuke, saying that if God wanted an infertile couple to have babies they would get pregnant naturally, and that it's obviously not in His will for infertile couples to reproduce. (To those people I say, "Hand over your eyeglasses, because it obviously wasn't God's will to keep you from slamming into walls. And don't be taking any Tylenol when you get a concussion, either.")

There is also an outcry from the self-righteous loudmouths who say that fertility treatment should not be an option as long as there are children without homes, as if there are a bunch of babies wrapped up in pink and blue bows, sitting in stork-ready baskets at the adoption agency. These people have apparently never actually looked into adoption, with all its bureaucratic red tape, years-long waiting lists, exorbitant costs, and risks of losing a child to his biological parents after spending a year getting attached to him.

There is one view, however, that I can agree with - the fact that fertility treatment makes it too easy for people to have babies who should not be having them (although there is nothing "easy" about fertility treatment itself). But the same could be said for sex outside of marriage. Yes, too many babies are being born into bad situations, but that doesn't make sex or fertility treatment innately wrong. When used properly, both can be a profound blessing.

I firmly believe that children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony to a mother and a father who honor their marital vows with complete fidelity. I do not think anyone should mess with that God-given formula, ever. But just because some people choose to ignore that ideal does not mean lawmakers should begin interfering, especially because, in this case, the damage they do would be greater than any benefit that might be derived. No matter how "pro-life" it might sound, a bill that severely diminishes the chances for good, stable couples to become parents isn't pro-life. It's anti-life.

It is unfortunate that we live in a world where many will misuse the gifts God has given them. And it is a sad fact that the miraculous scientific advances that have allowed my husband and me to become parents are the same advances that will allow others to do things they shouldn't be doing, and to mess with things they shouldn't be messing with.

There are many good things in the world, things I would consider to be direct blessings from heaven, that are used the wrong way and for the wrong purposes. But that is not a case for eliminating those good things altogether.


overlyactive said...

Amen to that!

Megan B said...

Overlyactive beat me to it! Amen and amen! My issues are #1. I have so many friends who are scrimping and saving desperately, to try to afford in-vitro, and somehow this woman has paid for it with student loans or welfare. I remain unclear about how she has paid for it, but from what I do know, I know she couldn't possibly have afforded it the legitimate way my couple friends are trying to afford it. And #2. Everything you said.

fiona said...

Exactly. I love how those without any experience or run-ins or knowing someone w/ infertility still amazingly seem to know sooooo much about what should and shouldn't happen. The treatments available today are such a blessing to so many, and for the most part are used by responsible people, who actually had to plan and come up with lotsa $$ for a child, unlike a large majority of fertile people. Not that there's not planning and agonizing and $$ concerns there, but it's usually not quite to the extent as IVF-ers.

These octuplets are definitely a rare case, not at all the norm with fertility treatments. If anything, the public backlash itself should make InF docs more conservative with their treatments. These ridiculously strict regs are unnecessary and plain ol' dumb. Docs need to use common sense, though, and hers doesn't seem to have done that.

Sara said...

Amen. Amen. Amen.