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?

2 comments: said...

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Emily said...

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