During our weekly trek to the organic supermarket (doesn’t that sound so left wing? Organic supermarket? Just wait, it gets better…), I ended up with a copy of Mother Jones in my basket. I am not normally a reader of Mother Jones—even as a liberal I don’t like agreeing points-of-view spoon-fed to me. But this month’s issue promised “Icebox Orphans & Fertility Gods: the hot war over frozen embryos / who’s going to thaw out 500,000 ‘microscopic Americans’ / love, politics, and the perils of high-tech baby-making.” It had the accompanying visual of plastic babies encased in an ice cube tray. Do you honestly think I’m going to be able to pay for my organic yogurt without picking up an issue? Mother Jones is banking on the 1 in 7 Americans experiencing infertility.
I’ve only read one of the articles so far—“Breeder Reaction” by Elizabeth Weil, which chronicles the lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple against a fertility clinic that refused to serve them as well as addressing the larger questions of regulations, insurance, and big government. The couple had been trying for two years to become pregnant using donor sperm. When they weren’t successful, they turned to an RE who refused to serve them because she said it was against her religious beliefs. The couple ultimately sought the help of another clinic and successfully had two pregnancies. But the question remains whether fertility doctors are the best judges of who is “fit” to become a parent.
The statistics are staggering. Only 59% of fertility clinic directors agreed that everyone should have the right to have a child. Who do the other 41% believe are not fit for parenthood? Strangely, “44% believe that fertility doctors don’t have the right to decide who is a fit parent.” Shouldn’t that number be closer to 59%?
The article raised interesting questions, many of which I couldn’t comfortably answer with rational words though I knew how strongly I felt about these topics with my heart. Should infertility be diagnosed as a “medical problem?” Would it save money in the long run if government regulated fertility treatments but also forced insurance to pay for the procedures? The article covered concepts such as fertility tourism and the RE as a businessperson.
In the end, the question I kept returning to was the idea of regulations. We all know that it can be a slippery slope when government gets involved in deciding things as intimate as reproduction. But what if there were simple regulations in place—mandatory single embryo transfer is the one mentioned in the article as a regulation in place in other countries—in exchange for mandatory coverage? What regulations would you be willing to live with? What about age cut-offs? What about marriage? In reality, the article points out, these regulations exist today—they aren’t dictated by the government, but are instead the policies of fertility clinics. Therefore, one fertility clinic may be willing to help you and another is not.
So the question of the day: would you be willing to accept government regulations on fertility treatments in exchange for coverage and what are your limits with government regulations?
The answers will obviously reflect to some extent your own situation. Why would I put regulations in place that limit my own procreation? But…then…I ask our government, why would you put those limits (that you don’t want on yourself) on someone else? Don’t we still have a Golden Rule in place somewhere? A little tarnished? Can’t we polish it up? And not to be a buzz kill, but Mother Jones states in the same issue that “mining the gold to make one 1/3-ounce 18-karat ring produces at least 20 tons of waste” therefore, we may want to recreate the Golden Rule in a different metal.
Back to Mother Jones and their next article about frozen embryos. What a way to spend my afternoon…