Today while eating lunch in my office I was perusing blogs and after a few links came across an entry about “reproductive rights” and how it relates to a 69 year old woman who has unfortunately passed away recently, leaving behind the two twins that she gave birth to three years ago. It kept me agitated all day, and I’ll tell you why (probably in the most long-winded way possible unfortunately).
The writer of the entry (blog: The Pursuit of Harpyness-I could write for an entire day about that choice of title alone) made arguments that women of any age should be allowed to undergo fertility treatments in order to conceive. That it is a “reproductive rights” issue. On the contrary, I feel that it is certainly not a reproductive rights issue…it’s a moral issue that centers around the well-being of children that have absolutely no choice as to what they’re born into. I encourage you to read the original article via Fox News; especially since it details how Maria del Carmen Brousada deceived a fertility clinic about her true age in order to even be considered for fertility treatment.
The most significant point of disagreement the blog author had about the content of the Fox article was the quote from Allen Pacey:
Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society, said the organization recommends that assisted conception generally not be provided to women beyond the natural age of menopause.
“The rationale for all that is that nature didn’t design women to have assisted conception beyond the age of the natural menopause…once you get into the mid-50s, I think nature is trying to tell us something,” Pacey told The AP.
He added: “I think many people would worry about providing fertility treatment to women in their 60s. I think as a general rule, to embark on pregnancy when you may not see your child go to university is potentially a very difficult situation.”
I agree on both counts, simply because what he said is true. Nature did not intend for women to give birth after menopause…if it did intend for that then most women would be able to conceive until the day they died. Pure and simple. And yes, having a child when your life expectancy after a certain age is decidedly up in the air is a potentially difficult situation…for the child.
Bullshit was called in that entry on both reasons and I’m calling bullshit on the bullshit that was called.
Yes, nature didn’t intend for a lot of things to be possible that our medical knowledge now allows. Does that mean we have carte blanche to do whatever we want? No. We have the science to clone people and nature clearly didn’t intend for that to be possible but does it mean we should? No.
Secondly, to completely dismiss the issue of what it means for a child and to do so in a sarcastic manner is completely narrow-minded. And I quote:
Secondly, the whole “Oh, what about teh babeez?” cry doesn’t take into account that parents die all the time and leave their children behind.
Truth be told the whole “Oh, what about teh babeez” comment is what really got me sideways today. Yes, parents die all the time before they thought they might and they leave children behind and it’s a sad situation. But it is simply selective thinking to banish the fact that statistically a parent bringing a child into the world that is say 30 or 40 has a much better chance of being around for that child than someone who is 63. Yes, people with various illnesses and longterm ailments also conceive at younger ages…I would wager that most likely someone that had battled cancer at the age of 30, or 40 even, probably has a better chance than someone at the age of 60+ of being around for the duration of what that child needs. So, yes “what about teh babeez” is exactly right. The slippery slope idea applies to both sides of the argument. Sure, it’s a “slippery slope” to get involved in who shouldn’t be allowed to conceive. But it’s also a slippery slope to argue for who should be able to conceive based simply on an ideal. I would be shocked to find anyone in their right mind who would argue that on the basis of reproductive rights a mother in active heroin addiction should be able to receive fertility treatment. That’s what the flimsy “slippery slope” argument can get you.
The online dictionary gives 62 different contextual definitions for the word “right”. Clearly as it pertains to this not all of them apply…some of them do:
1. in accordance with what is good, proper, or just: right conduct.
Is it good, proper, or just to pay for treatments that allow for birth at the age of 63, or 70, or 75? I think most people would probably agree that it falls on the side of “not”, otherwise it would be neither an anomaly nor newsworthy when we heard about someone doing so.
2. in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle; correct: the right solution; the right answer.
Is it in conformity with some current standard or principle that people should have children regardless of what those children will have to deal with…simply because they feel they have the “right” to do so? I don’t think it is.
4. fitting or appropriate; suitable: to say the right thing at the right time.
Is it appropriate or fitting that we reproduce with no thought to the consequences, simply because our “wants” are seen as the most important? Many people can afford to pay for fertility treatments. Does that mean they should? Not necessarily. Many people can naturally conceive children. Does that mean that they should? Not necessarily.
It doesn’t escape me that putting legal limitations on the conception of babies is certainly a precarious arena, especially in light of what we still go through today to exercise what is actually our reproductive rights as they pertain to the sovereignty of our bodies. But at the same time it also doesn’t escape me that choosing to bring a child into the world is an incredibly serious matter. I don’t have children and I’m sure it would be easy for someone to say that since I don’t how could I possibly have the right to weigh in on the matter. I’ve been in a position to make the choice of whether to have one or not and I chose not to. My choice was not made on the basis of what I wanted or didn’t want. It was made based on what I didn’t want to put a child through considering the situation it would be born into (as a disclaimer I wouldn’t ever judge a woman that chose not to have a child based on any other reasoning). And anyway, people that have never even been in a position to have a child have no less of a reason to feel one way or another about the issue, because we’ve all been children.
And that’s what I have to say about that.