One Night Only
September 27, 2008
We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast for this special program…
(Opinions expressed below. If you are uncomfortable with opinions about touchy topics, well you probably shouldn’t be reading an infertility blog. But if you don’t want to hear it and you just want to look at something pretty, ignore this post and come back for Show and Tell tomorrow.)
I am full of opinions, in real life and on this blog. But usually in real life and even moreso on this blog, I try to keep my political opinions to myself. Just this once, though, I can’t keep silent.
I have always believed in a Woman’s Right to Choose, but there was a time when I didn’t pay much attention to those issues. When I saw Cider House Rules with a friend who has spent her entire working life as a Pro-Choice activist, I left the theater talking about the characters, and she left the theater talking about what an important message the film had. She thought that by focusing on cute orphans and flawed mentors, I was missing the point.
Sometime after that, I started paying more attention. In making my voting decisions I would carefully study several dimensions of candidates’ platforms and legislative histories, including the right to choose. It takes me a long time to prepare my ballot before election day.
Still, I am far from a Pro-Choice activist myself. I have never given a penny to Planned Parenthood or other Pro-Choice organizations. I have never marched or picketed. I have never escorted a woman, neither stranger nor friend, into an abortion clinic. I do list the Right to Choose as a top concern when pollsters ask me about the election, which happens fairly often in my Purple State.
Even though I have long believed in the Right to Choose, I always thought that I would never exercise that Right myself. If I had gotten accidentally pregnant as a teenager, I would have kept the baby, as disruptive as that would have been for my life plan. As much as I want a child now, I did not want a child at age 19. But still, abortion is not a choice that I would have been able to make.
I maintained this belief that what’s okay for you is not okay for me, until I started injectables. DH has fervently opposed higher order multiples whenever the topic has come up, and he strongly prefers not to have twins. I don’t object to multiples in theory, except that (a) multiples greatly increase the risk of losing one, some, or all babies; and (b) a good friend of mine has twins, and I have witnessed the severe disruption to both parents’ otherwise ambitious careers that those wonderful babies have caused. DH and I are equally if not more ambitious than that couple. DH has declared his belief that twins would put us both several years behind in our careers, and if we had higher order multiples, his career would be over. But for me, the potential for danger and loss is much scarier.
This is why, when I started injectables earlier this year, I freaked out about the possibility of multiples. During some of my many sleepless nights during that first cycle, I consulted Dr. Google for everything I could find (which was surprisingly little) about selective reduction. I even watched marathons of Jon and Kate Plus 8 to remind myself why higher-order multiples are out of the question (as cute as those little ones may be, quitting my job to shepherd a flock of babies is not for me). I knew that it would break my heart to do it, but that if the time came, reduction would need to be done. I had made up my mind.
My injectable cycles came and went with two BFNs. Reductions became less of a concern when I moved on to IVF. But the Right to Choose continues to be an issue because I am employing reproductive technologies. Can I freeze my embryos? How many am I allowed to transfer? What can I do with the embryos if I don’t need them anymore? Could I give the embryos to another couple? Could I give the embryos to scientists who would learn from them? Can I use someone else’s gametes to make an embryo?
I recently returned from Japan, where it has been illegal to do IVF with the gametes of someone who is not your spouse (even though it is legal and very common to have affairs, and therefore to conceive a child naturally with anyone you want). I considered a side trip but didn’t quite make it to China, where people are fined by the government when they have more than one child. In many countries, government controls over fertility and reproductive freedoms are extensive, and sometimes stifling. Learning about the Japanese restrictions made me realize how much, if Certain People have their way, government controls over reproductive freedoms will increase here in the U.S. as well.
I told DH about the Japanese restrictions, and in a moment of epiphany I exclaimed, “Overruling Roe V. Wade would mean changes in my own IVF treatment options!” And he said, “Of course it would. The people who don’t want anyone to get abortions certainly don’t want you and me to do what we need to do to have a baby.”
It starts with late-term abortions. And then the line gets earlier and earlier, and applies to more and more people. And then selective reduction is not an option. But because higher-order multiples are so dangerous, if selective reduction is not an option then they have to restrict the number of embryos that can be transferred and the number of eggs that can be fertilized. And then it keeps going from there, until many of us are out of choices.
I don’t know if the next IVF cycle will work, or the next one. Therefore, by the time another President is in the White House, I might very well still be working on making my first baby. And I refuse, I flatly refuse, to let the government tell me what I can and can’t do with my own body. I’ve been at this baby-making thing for almost 7 years, and I’ve encountered enough hurdles from nature that I’ll be damned if I’m going to encounter more hurdles from bossy politicians.
Thankfully, I have many options, more than most. I could opt to get my treatments in a country with fewer governmental restrictions, if it comes to that. If the reproductive restrictions get too restrictive (along with the other restrictive restrictions that would invariably accompany Certain Administrations), I could opt to move to any number of other countries, due to DH’s career mobility, my career in a flexible industry, our language skills, our willingness to learn another language, and our adventurous natures. Do I want my kids to grow up across the ocean from their extended family? Maybe not. But do I want to be able to have kids? Absolutely. Do I need enormous medical help to make that happen? Unfortunately, yes. Would Certain People try to make that difficult if not impossible? Very possibly.
On this blog you will not hear me say that Certain People are frauds, or idiots, or liars, or opportunists, or fools who think that abstinence education leads to chastity and only married heterosexual couples who use the missionary position with the lights off should have a baby. I won’t even talk about how they make me want to puke, how I literally get nauseous almost every day thinking about the election. You will not hear me say those things, even if I do say them out loud and shake my fists and jump up and down sometimes when no one is looking. But, one time only, I will say this to my infertile sisters and brothers:
John McCain and Sarah Palin are not looking out for your reproductive interests. They will make it even more difficult than it already is for you to have a baby. Electing them would be a catastrophic mistake. Please don’t.
I happen to think it would be disasterous for hundreds of reasons, but the important one right now, most relevant to the readers of this blog, is that at the end of their hypothetical first term, and for as long as their Supreme Court appointees sat on the bench, all of us would have fewer options for bringing children into our families than we do today. And most of the people reading this already have fewer options than the average person. We need all of the options we can get.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled broadcast.
Coming up next: Infertility Pottery. No, really. I didn’t just put two of my favorite words together. I actually made infertility pottery.