I know I have comments to read and reply to as well as other topics to cover, but I wanted to get a short post up about an interesting item on the Motherlode blog (maintained by the NYT.) It’s a couple of days old, but I only just happened upon it.
The post is offered as a continuation of the discussion spurred by the publication of that Sunday magazine story about ART I wrote about just a little bit back. It’s a thoughtful reflective piece written by a woman who was an egg donor in the early 90s. (I use the term “donor” deliberately here as it appears she did not receive compensation.) It’s worth reading as it raises a number of interesting and important questions, some of which have been discussed here. (You can use the “egg donor” tag to find earlier posts.)
There’s no way to say whether the donor’s tale is a typical one, and that’s not the direction I would take the conversation here. She looks back on her choices with less that complete satisfaction even as she wrestles with questions about how to proceed given the choices she did make.
In some ways, I wonder if her story isn’t nearly a universal one. Surely we all grow to be older and more experienced, and one might hope also wiser. I’d guess we all come to look back on some of our youthful decisions with shadings of regret, perhaps thinking we’d do some things differently now.
To be clear, I don’t think the author comes to regret having provided the eggs. Rather, she has some regrets about agreeing not to maintain a relationship with the children, one in which they knew the role she played in their creation. And she fully realizes that we cannot change the past and so it is necessary that we figure out how to go forward from those choices.
I find myself wondering what to make of all this. Should I conclude that she should not have had the ability to make the choices she made when she was younger? (I’m very reluctant to do that.) Or perhaps I should say that while she was entitled to make them, she should not consider herself bound by them? (That’s sort of an interesting position, isn’t it?) Must her choices be irrevocable? If not, then why not–because she now regrets them? Because we think they were wrong to begin with? (This strikes me as an unsatisfactory approach.)
And then there are the questions that radiate out from here: What are the implications for other sorts of choices people may (or may not) be free to make? Some choices are, by the nature, irrevocable. Do people have the right to make those choices anyway? Even when we know that some of them, later in their lives, may come to have some regrets about some of the choices they made?
I’m generally inclined to think that we do have to let people make serious and irrevocable choices, because that’s the core of individual autonomy. And we have to acknowledge that some choices may cause some people some degree of regret at some point. I don’t think we can know enough about which choices will make which people unhappy later, nor can we know whether they will be more or less unhappy with a different choice.
So the egg donor gave her eggs and now she wrestles with how to manage the situation she chose to create. I appreciate her reflection and candor. I know her choices–the ones she faces now–are hard ones. I admire her humanity.