Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nature Holds Court On Issues Of Assisted Reproduction

Wow- this was shocking to me, too! I stupidly believed that "nature" was not, in fact a sentient being capable of having opinions on the human practice of assisted reproduction, but Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society, has set me straight on this matter. In a recent article reporting the death of the world's oldest new mother, Maria del Carmen Bousada, Mr. Pacey suggested that women as old as Bousada (66 at the time of the birth of her twin sons)should not be allowed to purchase assisted reproduction services.

"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."

Hmm. Now, I may not be the Secretary of the British Fertility Society, and I sure don't have Nature's number on my speed-dial like Mr. Pacey evidently does, but I've got to wonder at the well... logical consistency of such a statement. Did nature really design pre-menopausal women for assisted reproduction? Isn't the point of assisted reproduction helping people who can't naturally conceive to have children? Wouldn't post-menopausal women be the very definition of people who can't naturally conceive? Wouldn't Mr. Pacey and the whole gang at the British Fertility Society be out of a job if they really believed that one shouldn't tamper with "nature's order" when it comes to conception?

Now, let's not forget the second part of the statement, where Mr. Pacey laments the "difficulty" of having a child when you can't commit to living long enough to see them through university. Again, does Mr. Pacey or the Society really believe not being able to certify that you will live at least 18-20 years after your child is born should disqualify you from buying their services? I had my son when I was 23. I have made it 10 years, but I can't know for sure that I'll make it a full 20. Who can? The Brits, I guess. Things must be a bit different in Britain (probably due to their chummy relationship with Nature),as people there must be able to foresee their lifespans if the Society uses this benchmark when providing reproductive services. Otherwise, upholding that criteria would pretty much put them out of a job as well.

So, what exactly is Mr.Pacey trying to say, then? Why would he actually be against allowing post-menopausal women to use assisted reproduction? I think I can make a stab at it.

What Mr. Pacey really meant to say was that the thought of old, wrinkly ladies having babies is gross! Eww! That "hole" has a "Do Not Enter" sign on it for a reason!! A woman's attractiveness is bound up with her fertility, and allowing old women to reproduce is just like saying they are attractive and have Worth in society's eyes, which is totally not true! Controlling a woman's fertility has always been the best way to control a woman. Young women must be kept in terror of having unwanted pregnancies or the bondage of mother and wifehood, and old women must have the "right" to claim the "legitimate" power of sex object and mother stripped from them. That's how we keep 'em in line!

See? Doesn't that make more sense? A fertility society doesn't give a gnat's ass about "natural order", nor are they overly concerned with who will take care of the kid once it's born. Neither does the rest of society at large, for that matter. If we did, we would outlaw all assisted reproduction. We would also have all new mothers designate a legal guardian for their child in the event both parents die before the child is 18 (not a bad idea, by the way). No, Mr. Pacey's remarks were just a nice way to jump on the gleeful "I told you so!" bandwagon the article represents while distancing the fertility biz from any hint of impropriety in doing what they do.

The real point of this article was to thumb a collective nose at Bousada for having the audacity to try to escape her societaly-imposed "crone" identity by having a child at 66 years old. By herself, no less. The narrative points out that Bousada's "crime" was justly punished- she died just two years after having the babies. Much clucking of tongues about the "poor children" being "orphaned" by their selfish mother will serve to reinforce society's narrative- women don't have the right to escape their proper fates. Those heavily invested in the patriarchy will try to use this episode to deny older women access to reproduction technologies allegedly to protect the "children", but that excuse is paper-tissue thin.

Of course, the article hints at the fact that Bousada was "reportedly" diagnosed with a tumor some time after the procedure took place. If she did, in fact, die of cancer, that will put a little crimp in the plotline, because as we all know, cancer can strike at any age. Its interesting to note that younger women who continue with pregnancies after being diagnosed with cancer or other illness are often considered martyrs, though they orphan their infants just as surely as Bousada did.

I wonder what Mr. Pacey and Nature have to say about that?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The "Crazy Axe Murderer" is in the backseat of Byard Duncan's car...

Really, he is. And when Byard gets out of the car, he is going to find a hook on the side mirror from the Crazy Hook Murderer who was trying to get in while Byard and his date were necking. Urban legends are so much fun! I really love Byard's twist on that theme with his laf-a-minute article, My First Abortion Party. Take a minute, and check it out. Really absorb it. When you have wiped the laugh-tears from your eyes, we'll talk.

OK? Have you composed yourself? It took me a minute, too. The whole thing was so incredibly maudlin, so reality show unreal, I had to read it twice. I was looking for the "psych! Had you going!" line where the author reveals this was all a joke. I never found it. So, what does this article want us to believe?

1. Byard's girlfriend has a friend who needed an abortion.
2. This abortion-needing friend hosted a a house party to solicit donations to help her pay for the abortion.
3. The party was a joy riot, and everyone was diggin' it, 'cept Byard and the baby daddy, who for some unknown reason, was dressed as a clown.
4. All of the abortion-needing momma's friends were eevul harpies who just wanted to bag on the baby daddy.
5. This "party" reveals some larger, dark truth about abortion.

I'm OK with 1. #2 might sound a little sketch, but it really doesn't stretch credibility if you take away the shock title "abortion party". The fact of the matter is that people host benefits to take up collections for health-care related issues all the time. Kid needs an operation? Husband has $20,000 in doctor bills after an accident? Host a benefit. So, this was less a party, and more a benefit for the woman who needed an abortion. Put in that light, it makes sense.

#3, however, is a little less believable. Yes, the people at the benefit were dancing and mingling. Does that mean everyone was just having a hootin' hollerin' good time, wishing in their heart-of-hearts they could have an abortion too? Not hardly.

Walking in, we were bludgeoned with a blast of hot air, followed by the tangy stink of dance floor revelry. Someone had taken a red bed sheet and hung it below a light fixture to resemble a giant womb. Every so often, a dancer’s head or arm or dreadlock would brush against one of its smooth folds, creating a rippling effect. "Let’s Go Crazy" by Prince was playing.

This is the tone the author sets. A regular bacchanal in progress. The "Womb-sheet" is a nice touch. It would be better, of course, if a naked man in a goat-head mask was dancing lewdly under it, and readying to thrust a dagger into a crying virgin, but the Womb-sheet alone is plenty declasse and chilling. Only, I bet it wasn't really a "Womb-sheet" at all. I bet it was someone's attempt at mood lighting. How many parties have you been to with a sheet or scarf draped around a lamp?

Even if it was meant to look like a uterus (how I HATE that dogwhistle word 'womb'), wouldn't you kind of expect that to be a little tounge-in-cheek humor, like a cake that looks like a leg cast for the above-mentioned accident bennefit? Byard acts like he is a friend, like he is here in good will, but the tone of the article suggests otherwise. The problem isn't that people are dancing, or that someone may have a ribald sense of humor. The problem is Byard disapproves of this whole affair, because he is squeamish about abortion. He is trying hard to paint a scene of debauchery and fuzzy-headed liberal excess. Who is at this party? A bunch of crazies (Prince's "Let's go Crazy" is even playing) and other "bad elements" (notice the dreadlock reference? I did. That's dogwhistle number two).

But wait! There's more! In order to prove, once and for all, that these are very bad people, and abortion kills baybees, Byard introduces us to "Andrew".

As Ali went off to find Maggie, I sat down and struck up a conversation with Andrew (name changed), the three-year-old son of one of the partygoers...

Even though I thought the presence of a young child at an abortion party was a little bizarre, nobody else seemed to acknowledge (or care about) this contradiction...

"Do you feel welcome here?" I eventually asked him, fully expecting a ‘grown-up’-type answer. He glanced around, chewed on his sleeve and went to look for some babes to hang out with. "Too cool for me," I thought, shaking my head and cramming a pastry into my mouth. I was bewildered.

To Byard, a child at a benefit to fund an abortion is like a lot like Dave Chapelle's "Black White Supremacist" skits, or the old SNL "Cluckin' Chicken" commercial parodies. Obviously, the poor boy doesn't realize that this "party" is funding the killing of an innocent child just like him!! And what kind of parents would let a child go to such a sin-a-rama, anyway?

The piece de resistance, however, is the caracture of the baby daddy. He is literally made into a tragic clown, replete with rainbow suspenders and a sad 1,000 yard stare.

I saw Maggie’s boyfriend, sitting near the kitchen, wearing rainbow suspenders and looking uncomfortably alone... When we talked, his sentences spilled out in quick little jumbles, like scattered puzzle pieces. His eyes stayed focused on a point behind me. He looked as if he’d like to be somewhere else.

Ooh! The real victim of the evening! The Good Boy who got lured into this whole satanic nightmare. Byard obviously sees him as an object of pity.

In all, it seems like Byard is trying just a little too hard to prove #3. Every sentance, every word is designed to make this party resemble the orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut. Why? See #4 and #5 above.

Byard really wants us to believe that this whole nightmare is courtesey of the coven group of female friends who strongarmed convinced the baby momma and daddy in question that abortion was the right choice.

Let's go back to the encounter with the baby daddy. Why was he so glum?

As it turns out, he had been the object of a lot of vitriol from Maggie’s friends -- women who thought that he should not have had anything to do with the abortion. Both he and Maggie had been saddened about this reaction because they had made the decision together.

Byard continues to set up the problem when he turns his attention to the baby momma:

Maggie, too, looked less than excited. A few days beforehand, one of her friends had asked her to have the abortion in Ohio. When Maggie insisted on bringing her boyfriend along, the friend told her not to bother coming. Maggie was being shown a great deal of respect, certainly. But she told me she couldn’t help but feel as though her pregnancy had been "hijacked" by women who felt like her inclusion of a man in the decision was weak or wrong. This was a surprise to me, but I didn’t exactly know how to weigh in.

Ahh. Now we are really exposing the raw nerves behind Byard's disapproval of this whole scene. Women Are Uppity Bitches! Even To Other Women! Byard is SOOO liberal and in-touch, but the Uppity Women just won't fall to their knees in fawning acceptance of his Obviously Superior Intellect, and listen to what he thinks about the Subject of Abortion.

Byard goes on to do a fair amount of navel-gazing about the "proper" place of men in abortion, and pays lip service to the "justifiable anger" women feel when men try to strip away their agency, but his position is clear: Abortion is "icky" and wrong, something those "bad" people do, and women use it as an excuse to wield illegitimate power over men. He couches it in the urban-myth narrative that Slutty Sluts Like Abortion, and even throw "parties" because their abortion-having is so much fun. No, Byard doesn't want to take the choice of abortion away from women, he just wants them to suffer their shame privately, and feel eternally guilty for their choices. Oh, and he wants them to think about The Men &trade first and foremost when making such a decision.

So, #5 is just Byard's way of whinging about how being confronted with abortion squicked him out and how if his girlfriend questioned the authority of his penis got an abortion, he wouldn't be no man-clown and take it up the ass while the whole world watched.

Really. That was the whole point of the exercise. Just like all other urban legends, it was designed as a cautionary tale for those who might defy society's norms and dare to engage in a taboo act. Apparently Byard felt the need to remind all of his gentle readers that he's a man in the know, and no one better try to slice his kidney out in a hotel room... or make him the guest of honor at an "abortion party".

The Economy Has Come Home To Roost

My husband lost his job last week. It sucks. Such is life.