Saturday, July 22, 2006


I wore Pili's ear out last night, bitching about a letter to the editor in the NY Times. Finally, I said: "Perhaps I should blog about this." And she, eager to get back to the Escapes section, said, "Yes, perhaps you should."

ASIDE: There is nothing that gets my dander up more than reading letters to the editor. At least the ones in the NY Times are well written, which is way more than I can say for our local paper, whose letters to the editor generally read something like this: "How dare you say bad things about our President?!? Dont you know we are at WAR????" There are terrorists and WMDS out there in Iraq and they want to kill US!"

In this letter to the Editor, a nurse expresses her opinion about IVF and stem cell research. In the end, we agree with each other. "The ethical and moral obligation," she writes, "lies with saving lives, not saving potential lives." Great. Fabulous. We agree.

In the middle of her letter, though, she opinionates about IVF.

"It is disingenuous to support in vitro fertilization," she says, "and not support stem cell research. With in vitro fertilization, precious health care dollars

ART-SWEET: Whose health care dollars? This makes it sound like the government is paying for IVF, which g-d and our bank account both know is not the case

are spent creating embryos

ART-SWEET: here's the part that had me spitting out my tasty organic grilled veggies in shock

to satisfy individuals' selfish need for children who match their own DNA. There are so many adoptable children already born into this world that it seems immoral to create 'adoptable embyros'."

A CONFESSION: When Pili and I first started down this whole get us a kid route, I was of the sternest moral fiber. Anything beyond clomid was immoral, I thought. A waste of money given all the kids that need homes. Obviously, somewhere along the way, I changed my mind.

So what bothers me about this letter?

First of all, there's the typical misunderstanding of adoption. The desire to physically bear children is much more complicated than simply a wish for children "who match our own DNA." There's the desire to nurture life within one's own body - to have that essentially human physcial experience. To know one's child from before he or she is even born. To control the environment - nutrition, chemical exposure, drug and alcohol exposure - of one's child's early formation. To raise a child who knows without a doubt where he or she came from, what his or her medical history is. Not to mention the desire to have a child without undergoing the financial and emotional scrutiny involved in adoption.

But what really gets under my skin is the idea that infertiles are expected, by virtue of the fact that our bodies have not cooperated with our dreams, to forswear those dreams as selfish - the means to fulfill them immoral since adoption is also an option.

Is it selfish for fertile folks to have one, two, three, four... sixteen kids? What about the healthcare costs that incurs? If they want large families, why shouldn't they "just adopt"? I don't hear her calling them selfish.


Blogger deanna said...

Didn't you know? Infertile couples are the chosen people of DSS. Obviosly, we have a civil obligation to adopt children with painfully horrific pasts since we're automatically equipped with the skills to raise an emotionally damaged child. You know, being infertile and all, that's our natural superpower.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Lyrehca said...

If you write the letter, send a copy to wherever she works, too. (I don't have the Times page here, but does she indicate where she's from, or what health care facility she works at?)

12:59 PM  
Blogger pithydithy said...

Please, oh, please write a letter in response. (I'll be looking for it.) As someone who is both having a baby through thawing a frozen embryo and through adoption, I am beyond pissed off at the complete lack of understanding of both that this letter exhibits.

1:10 PM  
Blogger Calliope said...

well said!
you should print out this post & mail it to the NYT

1:34 PM  
Blogger Kassie said...

Very well said.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I agree, print and mail!!

9:24 PM  
Blogger erinberry said...

I had to stop reading letters to the editor because they just made me too mad - I live in the South, afer all.

2:23 PM  
Blogger seattlegal said...

Well said. I hope you do write a letter in response.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Sassy said...


11:49 PM  
Blogger MAMB said...

No woman who has struggled with infertility would deem trying to have a biological child as selfish. And her comments make it sound as though adoption is the easy way out (and the moral high road). It's certainly not easy and I'm adopting for largely selfish reasons (I want a child - sure in the process the child gets to come to a richer country but the child is also forced, without any say, to leave her home land).

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

Wow. I never knew that bearing a life, one of the most powerful, life-changing experiences was selfish. Actually, I have always seen it as being one of the most UN-selfish things you can do. Considering that you're giving your life to the one you're making. Sure, adoption is a really great option. And if it works for you, that's wonderful. There are so many kids out there that need good homes. But I really do think that you should be the one who decides where your baby comes from. I would love to hear a response to this letter.

10:31 PM  
Blogger julia said...

I'll echo the others in saying you should respond to that letter.

I have been called selfish for having children. By my mother, no less. "There are so many people out there who want to adopt, I don't know how you can be so selfish and keep your baby."

And this time? Yeah, selfish again. Apparently, I'm too old to have a baby now and I'm selfish that I didn't terminate (a perfectly healthy, no known genetic/choromosome problems child, mind you). And people wonder why I'm so fucked up.

9:05 AM  

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