Georgia ART Regulation Follow-Up

A few days ago I pointed out some pending legislation in Georgia and offered a few thoughts.   The hook for the legislation, of course, is the widely-shared sense of unease generated by the octuplets case. But the point I’ve been trying to make is that many different people/groups  with many different interests could use the sudden public cry for action to advance regulations that do a lot of things, some of which may be to actually address the octuplet problem.

It’s in that context that I think the Georgia legislation is important.  I gather it doesn’t have any real chance of passage, but it is a fine example of a bill that advances a whole bunch of ideological points, only some of which have to do with the octuplets.

It seems that was even more true than I knew.   Here’s a post from another blog that offers further details about the pending Georgia legislation.   Many of the points raised are troubling.

Notice, for example, that the legislation seeks to restrict use of ART to instances of infertility.   I pick this point because at first blush it may seem quite a reasonable idea.    But at least a couple of questions spring to mind immediately and make me wary of this.

First, does this address any actual problem?  Are there people who are using ART just for the fun of it?   Surely the vast majority of people who use ART do so because they have not been able to or cannot conceive in the ordinary fashion.

This leads to the second question, which really rises from the first.   Who’s going to say what infertility is?  Are all single people, by definition, infertile and therefore qualified to use ART?   Or are most single people disqualified because they won’t meet some medical definition of infertility?

Now given what else I know about the proponents of this statute (see my earlier post) I’m guessing they’re not wild about single people having access to ART so they are going to say that they are not infertile.   But really, who knows?

The key thing to see is how slippery regulation can be, how regulation aimed at one thing can slide over into other areas, and how alert one must be to all the possible consequences.

2 responses to “Georgia ART Regulation Follow-Up

  1. Also, what about heterosexual parents who are both carriers of a terrible genetic disease, and want ART so that they can pre-screen embryos? Are they “infertile” because they can’t reproduce “naturally” without significant risk to the resulting child? Or will they be considered fertile because there is nothing physically preventing the mother from conceiving? There’s a significant possibility that, if there is any question that ART in cases like this is illegal, children will die of preventable disease.

    • That’s a really critical point to remember. I think it may also be true that infertility is sort of a fuzzy concept. There are probably cases where there is some clear reason why a person might be described as infertile. But there is much we do not understand, and I would imagine there are cases where infertility is a conclusion reached after people are unable to conceive, even without a clear understanding about why they are unable to conceive. In such instances, there might be disagreement about who is infertile.

      There’s also something about the whole couple thing. A single person might always by definition be infertile. But some might be more infertile than others, because some are only situationally infertile? Or something like that. Not thought out well yet.

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