Regulating reproduction follow-up

I’ve written recently about the move to regulate reproduction that is (at least in part)  being driven by the spectacle of the octupluts.

Here’s one of the first pieces of legislation to come down the pike.   For the most part it looks like straight-forward effort to avoid the octuplet problem by restricting the number of embryos that can be implanted transferred.    Even in those terms, the wisdom of this sort of legislation is debatable, I gather, as the comments from the doctors make clear.  There may be instances where implanting transferring more than the specified number of embryos is medically advisable even if you’re not seeking multiple births.

But note that the legislation isn’t only aimed at restricting the number of embryos.  There’s a second provision to the legislation.   It bars producing more than the number of embryos you’ll be using.   That restriction is driven by the contention of Georgia Right to Life (which helped draft the legislation) that embryos deserve protection as “living human beings.”    That’s a very controversial stance at odds with a lot of the practice of ART.    And it is totally unrelated to the octuplet problem.

This illustrates the concerns I’ve tried to raise in my earlier posts.   The widely shared outrage over the octuplets fuels efforts at regulation that are than shaped by other ideological concerns.    And those ideological concerns lead to broader restrictions on ART.   For instance, I’d hazard a guess that Georgia Right to Life would like to restrict access to ART, excluding single women and lesbians, were they the ones making the rules.

It’s not that one cannot contemplate regulation to prevent recurrences of the octuplet problem.   I just think you have to look at these proposals pretty carefully to see what else is being carried along.


5 responses to “Regulating reproduction follow-up

  1. Interesting concept – to restrict the number of embryos “implanted”.

    It probably (because you used the term yourself) comes as news to you that the INCORRECT use of the term ‘implant’ when the media or whomever refers to IVF and embryo TRANSFERS, drives the infertile population into fits of hysterics. They HATE it. They hate it beyond hating it. The reason is because after you transfer an embryo into a uterus, it is up to fate and that embryo to actually implant itself into the uterin lining. To take hold and to become a living pregnancy. Until that magical occurance of implantation happens via nature and nature alone, IVF is useless.

    When those who have no clue ignorantly use the term implant to refer to simply placing the embryo into the uterus, they give off a sense of assurance that IVF will work. That an embryo needs simply be implanted to a uterus via some doctor and a baby will grow. It so completely doesn’t work that way. To someone who has gone through many embryo transfers with dozens of embryos placed in her uterus and yet has no child that lived through pregnancy and not even a single positive pregnancy pee stick – the insult is complete.

    What a loser. You can’t even grow a baby after it has been implanted for you.

    For the sake of being nice. For the sake of being correct. The world should learn to use the word transfer. Especially legally. Cripes, if you are legally going to limit how many can implant but NOT how many are transferred… who are you going to put on trial if more than the legal limit implant? Mother Nature? Good luck on that one.

    • Robynanne makes a critical point. I’ve taken this comment to heart and made the correction in the original post. I have a terrible feeling that Robynanne made this point before and I slipped back into poor usage. If that is so, my apologies. It’s not just a semantic point or political correctness-it’s about accuracy in language, something I care a lot about. And you can see the difference getting it wrong might make. Thanks for calling me on it.

      • Wow, thanks! 🙂 I don’t actually recall having ever mentioned this here before or not and I’m too lazy to go look it up. Actually, I’m afraid you got the brunt of my disgruntledness at that term as most places that use it have practically no obvious way to go tell the author the effect of that single term on a whole group of people. Some how it’d be great to start a huge media campaign on teaching people the difference.

        I’m not the person for that. Sadly, being a computer geek and not an english guru, my grammar and indeed spelling abilities are horrid at best. I’m limited to yelling at people that say “I could care less” and “irregardless” and “implant” when they mean “transfer”. That’s about my limit.

        Thanks for taking the point to your post though! I would imagine that any person with an infertility history that happens across such crossouts will be happily soothed.

        • There’s a nice lesson here. To me, the difference between “implant” and “transfer” didn’t seem critical so I didn’t focus on it. I do choose my words carefully when I know I’m making a choice. But I just breezed by this, not giving it much if any thought.

          And yet clearly I was making a choice–actually worse than that, I was getting it wrong. It’s fortunate for me that someone spoke up to alert me to this. I say this for two reasons. One is using annoying language is off-putting for readers, which rather defeats the purpose of writing. The other is that using incorrect language may impair my own ability to make distinctions or think carefully at some later time.

          I’d love to think it’s the first time you raised the point and I have every hope I’ll remember it. (You’d think after all this discussion I would, right?)

  2. Julie, you share some interesting thoughts. We definitely need to look at the ART business in America. One of your thoughts I would like to challenge a bit is your statement that you would not call a man the father of a child conceived and born after his death using his sperm. I have heard of at least one soldier storing sperm before going off to die in war, hoping that if he died, he would still be able to father (note the use of the word “father”) a child, genetically, at least. It brought great comfort to his wife and his biological relatives and his friends, it seems, to bring a child into the world who shared his DNA after he did, indeed, die. We have all heard stories of babies conceived the old-fashioned way who are born after their fathers died. Sometimes family members are able to honor the father’s memory and help the child have a healthy upbringing even after such a tragic loss. It would be great if everyone could have a great mom and a great dad, but perhaps in the cases of family who go the extra mile to have a baby after the genetic father passes away, these may be the kind of families who do all that is humanly possible to see that a child is nurtured well. It seems rather unkind of you to say to someone that his or her (genetic) father is not his or her actual father. And it kind of goes against all historical precedent.

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