Say there's this couple. They have always dreamed of a family with two children, but unfortunately they're infertile. If the world is overpopulated already, why are they trying to produce more babies through IVF? Shouldn't they "just" adopt ones which are already here?

Meanwhile, down the road, is a young, single, accidentally-pregnant woman who doesn't want to raise the child. Now, if the world is overpopulated she should have an abortion, but the same people who advocate adoption for the first couple are rarely so adamant about that. Instead, they think the young woman should have the baby and give it to the infertile couple, and then everyone will be happy (they assume, ignoring the complex emotional issues at play which are, after all, just tough luck for those involved) and, most importantly, the environment will breathe a sigh of relief. Another young, single woman provides the infertile couple's second child in the same way, and all is right with the world. Or is it?

Here's the thing: when these two young, single women grow older, find husbands and settle down, do they say to themselves, "Now, I've always wanted two children, and I've already had one, so I guess there's only one to go!" Of course not. They each have the two children they've always wanted.

So the world still ends up with six children (and we've narrowed our genetic diversity into the bargain). Where's the environmental gain? And without one, what's your excuse for not giving people what they want instead of what you think they should have?


17 Comments

Rachel Inbar said...

Bea, you're so right, as usual...

In addition the same "the world is overpopulated, just adopt" people often have children of their own... I guess it's much easier to speak once you know you're out of the equation.

M said...

A lot of food for thought - unfortunately 99% of the population don't think the logistics through thoroughly and are more concerned with crusading.

Imogen and David said...

Interesting read Bea :)

Good luck for Monday xo

Beagle said...

Of all the stupid reasons 'they' have for telling us what to do and how to do it, overpopulation has to be one of the lamest arguments.

Next thing they'll be telling the Amish to use birth control.

Or how about the environmental impact of the diapers from one baby (Disp or cloth are both evil), why don't they just ban babies altogether.

Geohde said...

Geez I dunno. Except that I will find it most difficult to ignore that pesky biological drive to have my own while still possible.

serenity said...

Well done, Bea. I couldn't agree with you more.

Samantha said...

Good points. I hope you didn't have to make this to someone who said inappropriate things to you!

Somewhat Ordinary said...

Couldn't agree more!!

Piccinigirl said...

Bravo, I agree.

mary ellen said...

You are so right on this Bea.

SaraS-P said...

people also often fail to mention that birth rates in developed nations are actually going down, especially among educated folks. I say if you have the means to nurture a child, you should have as many as you want and are capable of having with or without assistance.

Chili said...

Excellent post Bea!

Cathleen said...

Wow! Well said.

I love the line about narrowing genetic diversity.

My Reality said...

Good job, Bea.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Fascinating view as always. Thinking about you, and hoping all is well dear Bea. Best, PJ

Jessie K. said...

I happen to be pro-choice and anti-IVF. And yes, I have one biological child. It shall remain that way. My husband and I agree that two would be our limit, but we aren't interested in going further for many reasons. The environmental impact is one.

IVF is akin to a cosmetic procedure. It is not necessary and it is done for selfish purposes. It can be argued that having biological children is also selfish. And that is true. The desire to produce one's own offspring is natural, and I can respect that. However, the inability to procreate naturally is a red flag that it shouldn't be done.

Whether you waited until you've met the right person at age 39, survived leukemia to find yourself devoid of eggs or viable sperm, or battled with PCOS or a form of male infertility, that is nature's way of saying "Do Not Enter". It sucks, but it's the last barrier we have against overpopulation and maintaining some balance in our human ecosystem. Comparing IVF to chemotherapy or organ transplants is offensive and arrogant. You will not die if you don't have a biological child. Also, your quality of life will not suffer if you are unable to be pregnant. People NEED eyeglasses, wheelchairs, prosthetic legs, crutches, heart transplants, and radiation therapy in order to heal and become productive members of society. Please inform me of a medical condition that is only curable by becoming pregnant.

I am careful not to underestimate the emotional pain. I imagine it hurts to not be able to have the family that you always dreamed of, but that is more of a psychological issue. If your life without children - biological or otherwise - is empty and meaningless, then there are other issues that should be addressed. Children deserve to be cared for by whole parents, with strength and self worth. Would you marry a guy who spent the whole first date crying, gasping, and pleading about how he is so desperate to have a wife and his life won't be complete without marriage? No? Then why should a baby be born into that kind of emotional baggage and pressure.

I don't mean to be harsh. I've watched friends go through IVF, ICSI, and IUI. I felt for them. I won't deny you the right to want to be parents, but to carry on as if the action of medical intervention in reproduction is anything less than selfish is dangerously delusional. Having a large following of people who agree doesn't make it a reasonable stance. Just own up to the narcissism is all I'm saying. This self-righteous attitude that infertile women have is rather annoying.

Bea said...

Hi Jessie.

This will sound lazy, but this post is several years old and I have spent so much time going over and over it and I just don't have the time or inclination to do it again, point by point. I realise this is a little unfair because a lot of the material isn't here, it's scattered across the internet or contained within my master of bioethics degree, but nevertheless my blog makes a good start so I would encourage you to look through it.

I have, for example, nearly bored my readers explaining the rationale of two, separate doctors who advised that it would be wise for someone in my position to pursue pregnancy even if that meant IVF, for the sake of my own health. (And I am kind of cringing on behalf of various groups at your implication that those who can't or won't be "healed" by medical science are not "productive" members of society.)

I have debunked the Darwinian argument a thousand times, at least two of them here (although a few minutes logical thought and some high-school level understanding of epidemiology on the general public's part should rid me of that job). And your comments on the psychological baggage of infertility or the meaning of life without children make no sense in the context of this blog.

I don't want this comment to discourage discussion, debate, or enquiry concerning the issues surrounding infertility - I'm not saying I won't open the discussion again, full stop - but many of the answers are already here, and I have to ration my time differently these days.

Thanks for dropping by.

Bea

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