Monday, February 2, 2009

The "WTF Fairy" Has Visited Again.

I wasn't going to blog about it, but I'm going to. Insert all of the usual disclaimers about rants, being offensive, etc. If you're offended...well...what can I say?

So a woman in California has had octuplets.

Wait, let's be a bit clearer here: An unmarried/unattached, quite possibly mentally unstable (per her own mother), unemployed, mother of 6 (including one autistic child) who is on welfare and lives with her parents so they can help care for the children...has had octuplets.

Octuplets conceived by way of in vitro fertilization.


I'm not in favor of imposing laws or other restrictions on having children, don't get me wrong. But seriously. There has to come a point when something - common sense, ethics, something - intervenes and somebody does the right thing. But no. Instead we get a visit from the "WTF Fairy".

First of all, who the fuck thought it was a good idea to implant 8 embryos at once? Most IVF doctors will implant a maximum of 3 at a time. The human body was not designed to produce litters, and moreover, babies born in such high numbers often have significant problems...if not at birth, later in life. There is no good reason to take the risk. None. Period. Nada.

Second of all, did it not raise anyone's eyebrows that this woman - already on state aid, unattached, and with 6 children who are in her parents' care - should, at the very least, undergo a psychological evaluation first? Her mother has even said that the woman is obsessed with having children, to the point that she suspected mental issues.

Third, if she's on welfare/state aid...precisely who paid for this nonsense? I know people who are scrimping every last penny to give IVF one chance - with the requisite 3 embryos, no more - and may not be able to do it a second time. Is the State of California actually footing the bill for this woman's IVF??? (Which, by the way, would have me rabid with fury even if only one embryo was implanted) When did IVF become something that state aid should pay for? Short of some type of life-threatening disease that is cured only by gestating and giving birth, I can think of absolutely no reason why this procedure should be covered by anything other than this woman's hard-earned dime. No hard-earned dimes? No IVF. Sorry, toots.

And for that matter, who is going to pay for the continued nonsense of raising these children?

She has the right to have children. I'm not asking the government to issue new laws dictating that only the privileged and pretty can have children. I've seen parents who seem to exist only as an argument in favor of requiring a license to procreate, but clearly, any kind of law like that would be an ethical cluster fuck.

However, just as she has the right to recklessly reproduce, I have the right to have an opinion on the matter. My opinion has no legal bearing on what she can and can't do, but it is what it is. And my opinion is that she is severely mentally unstable (which, judging by some of the comments her mother has made about her history, is a significant possibility), and that her doctors are unethical, irresponsible, and should at the very least be investigated for misconduct.

One of the comments I've seen frequently in relation to this story is that any kind of roadblocks or hindrances would violate her rights. For example, if she wanted all 8 embryos implanted and her doctors refused, then that is in violation of her rights, it's a doctor deciding whether or not she's "worthy" of having these children, etc. If a doctor required a psychological evaluation before performing the procedure, he's also imposing his beliefs or violating her rights or whatever. Basically, anything that hinders a woman's access to medical procedures relating to reproduction is akin to treating her like a second class citizen.

You know what I say to that?

If it is her right to get IVF on demand, regardless of risk and ethics, and the doctors must go along with it...then it is my right to have unhindered access to a tubal ligation, regardless of a doctor's opinion on the subject.

Oh, you didn't know there were two sides to that coin?

You see, many of us are already limited in terms of access to healthcare as it relates to our reproductive choices. Childfree women have to fight tooth and nail to get tubal ligations, usually on the grounds that "we'll change our minds". Doctors can - and frequently do - decide if a woman can have certain procedures. A doctor can determine that a woman is ineligible for this procedure based on his own arbitrary criteria. Incidentally, most of the resistance I've encountered has been because I "will change [my] mind"...a sentiment that never once entered the equation when I was eagerly and enthusiastically prescribed fertility drugs at 23. People change their minds, but the decision to have a child is far less reversible than the decision not to have one.

A doctor can withhold a tubal ligation because of his own criteria...but woe be unto a doctor if he decides to withhold IVF from someone.

Let's review:
  1. Girlfriend in California has 14 children (all conceived via IVF) that she is questionably able to care for, with nary a psychological evaluation in sight.
  2. I have not been able to procure a tubal ligation in spite of my willingness to undergo psychological evaluations and even counseling. In fact, most doctors refuse to even discuss the issue with me. At all. The same is true for numerous other women I know who are childfree by choice.
Yes, I do believe we have been visited by the "WTF Fairy".

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