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.

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14 Responses to “One Night Only”

  1. Danielle Says:

    Interesting points you’ve made. I’ve always been Pro-choice. It’s my body and I should be able to do with it what I choose. I need to do a lot more research on the candidates, I’m just so unsure. You’ve made me think. Which is always a good thing.
    Thank you!
    -D

  2. Photogrl Says:

    I, too, always have been pro choice, but knew in my heart that it wasn’t for me. But government should not have that much control over a woman’s body.

    You bring up many points that I had not thought of yet. I never connected the Roe v. Wade and infertility…

    Thank you for getting me thinking.

    …ICLW

  3. stephanie Says:

    Lots to think about.

    I also am pro-choice to the extent of I should have a say only in what is happening in my body, and no say over what you do with your body. I become even more pro-choice every year at this time when some well intentioned people become… well… rude.

    It’s a movement called “40 Days for Life” — I live next door to Pl@nned P@renthood. For the next 38ish remaining days I will be subjected to a constant vigil, candles burning, prayers being said and groups of varying size blocking sidewalks and driveways as they exercise their 1st Amendment opportunity. It’s the blocking and confronting and constant noise making (although not enough to be called noise ordinance violation) that makes it rude, not the message. Why can’t we all just agree to disagree and leave people to their own devices?

  4. Lori Says:

    There is an amendment on the ballot in my state to define personhood as starting at conception.

    HUGE implications for people in IF treatments.

  5. Delenn Says:

    Great post! I have been Pro-Choice since college, and was more active in the community at that time than now. And yes, I hadn’t really thought about how that legislation would change the world of Infertility, until I went through it myself.

    Totally agree with you on the multiples worrys…although Jon & Kate are cute–I would be pulling my limbs off to get out of that situation…

  6. mdep Says:

    Amen, babysmiling!! I most definitely could not have said it better myself.

  7. tina Says:

    Wow. I had never thought of it that way. That’s a lot to chew on!

    ICLW

  8. Star Says:

    Amen and hallelujah to all of that. Here’s hoping that Certain People don’t win on November 4.

  9. Shelby Says:

    I’m right there with you and suddenly this issue has become more important because now it’s personal.

  10. shinejil Says:

    The “personhood at conception” crowd (not all anti-abortion people think that way, I hope) would have let me bleed and burst a tube with my recent ectopic rather than be treated medically. Even though there are zero documented cases of ectopics going to term.

    So not only would Certain People throw a monkey wrench in many couples’ dreams, they would prefer women suffer agony and risk death rather than “kill” an embrionic “person” who will die regardless.

    Morons.

  11. Ginny Says:

    This is such an amazing post. I have been pro-choice all my life. I personally do not think I could go through an abortion, but I should have that right.

    I’ve thought about the consequences regarding infertility, but I have not put my thoughts out there yet. I don’t have any experience in it, so I have been careful not to discuss yet. I was planning on doing it eventually though, especially if things get any worse for pro-choice.

    Thank you for putting this out there for others to see. People really need to consider all the reasons behind being pro-choice. Nobody likes the idea behind it, but sometimes it is just necessary.

    Take care & thanks again!


  12. As a person who had an abortion at 22 and is now using IVF to conceive (the abortion has nothing to do with the problems now) this is interesting on two counts. I know that I could not go through another abortion, which is why my husband and I were on the fence until the very last minute about how many embryos we would have transferred for our first IVF cycle. We decided to go w/ just one, but if this cycle doesn’t work, then we’ll go with 2 for the second cycle.

    Your blog brought up some great questions about career, too. I recently decided to quit my full-time job in order to transition into being a work-at-home mom. I’m an incredibly ambitious person, and I’m still a little shocked that I made this decision. But, interestingly enough, when making the “how many eggs to implant” decision, I never thought about how it would effect our careers. Thoughts to think on. Thanks for the great post.

  13. kristen Says:

    I am pro-life, but have not always been. I am also a ‘survivor’ of both primary IF and secondary IF, and was able to conceive my children without ARTs, but with meds.

    I am not a ‘moron’, shinejil, and I am so sorry that you had to experience an ectopic pregnancy. I do believe that life begins at conception, but I would not expect a woman to risk her own life for the life of a baby that could not survive outside the womb. I have a friend who carried a child to 20 weeks, a month after receiving the news that her baby had a fatal condition, with great risk to her own life, then delivered her son stillborn after almost losing her own life. While I admire her and her husband for making such a bold statement about their belief regarding life, I do not think I could have been as brave.

    As I mentioned, I have not always been pro-life. There came a point in my life that I realized that the difference (generally, speaking) between pro-lifers and pro-choicers is that those who are pro-life really believe (as I do now) that aborting a baby is ending a life and pro-choicers do not think of it quite like that. Instead it is about the woman and her body ilfe, not the baby’s body and life.

    Somehow I think if we all realized that difference, the significance of which I cannot stress enough, we’d understand each other a bit better and not think of each other as ‘morons’ or ‘baby-killers’.

    As far as IVF, selective reduction of multiples, embryos, embryo adoption. . .I feel I can only say it is complicated, and I recognize that fully.

    I am sorry for your experience with IF and I hope and pray your baby is right around the corner!

  14. Meridith Says:

    First of all, thank you for your comment on my blog… and for being so respectful in sharing your opinion. I truly appreciate that.

    I also hope you understand that my response comes from my heart as I am simply attempting to share my own beliefs on this subject.

    I’m sure you could tell from my blog that I am a conservative Christian, but I also understand that not everyone shares my views or my beliefs… and I can lovingly and respectfully agree to disagree.

    My faith is very fundamental to my views on the issue of abortion… and my infertility has only served to make me more outspoken on the subject than previously. (By nature I’m one to shy away from controversy.)

    All this to say, I believe that life begins at conception. I also believe that only God can create life, and that He has a purpose for each life that He creates.

    God doesn’t create junk… and God doesn’t make mistakes… and that includes any unborn lives that He may choose to allow to come into my body through traditional conception, IUI, IVF, EA, etc.

    As for this issue of a woman being able to choose what to do with her own body… my response is simple. I have chosen to give my body as a living sacrifice to the Lord. My life, nor my body, are my own… but are dedicated to the Lord to use as He sees fit.

    I hope and pray that I have clearly stated my views and my faith without causing offense. Again, I understand that not everyone will agree with me… and that is ok. It is not my place to try to convince anyone of anything… but simply to share my own point of view in love and with respect. I hope I have accomplished just that.

    I do wish you luck in your journey to have a baby… and pray that the Lord will grant your heart’s desire while protecting you from having to face the possibility of selective reduction. (((hugs)))

    PS – if you ever are faced with unwanted multiples… please know that there are many (including myself) who would love nothing more than to adopt your babies. Just thought I’d share that as another option to selective reduction.


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