…by Maria Grizzetti
Call them confessions of the barren. They are everywhere. The number of women and men who desire children but cannot conceive them or carry them to term is immense. Only recently, the tide of social conversation has changed to begin to reveal their stories. They are heartrending tales of pathetic desire, and I intimately know them.
For some the option is clear. Science and modem medicine have forged a strong alliance affording us numerous ways to by bypass the age old problem of infertility. From the sale of gametes marketed as charity towards the infertile, to the option of in-vitro fertilization (IVF), to the even ‘easier’ combination of in-vitro and surrogacy where the biological parents simply pay and wait for others to conceive and bring their children to term for them, there are multiple alternatives for women and men who want children they themselves cannot have. The price however is increasingly a high one: morally, financially, ethically, socially and spiritually, the balance sheet has been weighted with costs. Human desire being what it is disregards all this and propels an industry forward at seemingly intractable speed. We are willing to pay high prices for human life. And we are buying ourselves what we once received as gift: children are the latest hot product — high stakes for modern times.
As endless as the ways at our disposal, the reasons and conditions associated with Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) are likewise as numerous. The litany is quite impressive, if you ask me. None of the reasons people turn to ART’s can be said to be superficial. Every one, drawn back to its origin, points to one thing: human love is made to be generative, and it desires fruitfulness. Any frustration of this generativity is difficult to live with. And so, desperately blinded by desire, we proceed to take control and strategize the way around privation. We are good at strategy. Once we take matters into our hands, it is easy to lessen burden and increase output. We want the most for the least effort.
Last week, I read about this trend in a disturbing BBC article narrating the story of a British couple who had their embryos implanted into two Indian women they have never met. They came out saying that the Indian women ‘were performing a service’ for them. The couple wishes not to risk complicated pregnancy, and so ‘hired’ these two women to ensure the likelihood of success in multiple in-vitro trials. They now find themselves awaiting two sets of twins. They decided to keep the four ‘embryos’ rather than proceed with ‘selective reduction’. These four children are currently being carried to term for them by two nameless women the couple does not wish to meet, and are due to be born in early 2014.
The details of this story amount to impressive effort on the part of this couple to achieve what their own bodies are tragically not capable of. I wondered in reading this story, how many more like it go unreported.
With the advent of ART’s, all around the world we have begun to see this utilitarian appropriation of other bodies or body parts, to ‘assist’ couples wanting to have children; consummate indication of the desperation of those wanting the children and the usually fiscal need/benefit of those offering their bodies for so particular a ‘service’. The irony is that in ‘assisting’ someone else, they are being used. And no, compensation is not commensurate with services rendered. A human life is not worth an average 25,000 dollars — it is priceless. And so is the woman who bears it for another, however poor she might be, as she often is.
I then came across a new study published by the American Society of Reproductive Medicine releasing data results indicating some five million children have been born from ART’s in the last decade data has been available. Five million. READ MORE CLICK HERE..