Friday, July 21, 2006

Lawmommy goes all political for a few moments

Warning, this thread discusses politics, adoption, frozen embryos, and the yahoos in Washington.

I am saddened...sickened...disraught. I am deeply deeply disturbed that Bush used his veto power to veto the stem cell research bill.

I realize that 25% of the population is deeply opposed to this research, and I do not disrespect your opinion.

However, 75% of the population supports this legislation. 75%. If the president can argue (okay, argue ridiculously, but, argue nonetheless) that 51% is a mandate, how could he possibly not see that 75% really IS a mandate? (Okay, yes, yes, I know. Just because most people are in favor of something, doesn't make it morally right - look at racial segregation, for example.)

But, here is my problem with the argument that embryos are people - or even that embryos are fetuses (fetii?) - it takes something MORE than the meeting of an egg and a sperm to make a pregnancy. It is probable, even likely, that eggs and sperm meet ALL THE TIME. ("Nice to meet you, how you doin', can I buy you a martini?"). Egg+sperm does not equal pregnancy. Egg + sperm + implantation in appropriately prepared uterus = possible viable pregnancy, possible child. Egg + sperm + no implantation or no appropriately prepared uterus = no possible viable pregnancy, no possible child.

These embryos are created in a dish in a lab, and the purpose of them is to provide the POSSIBILITY that a pregnancy and a child will result. More embryos than are needed are created. If this idea makes one squeamish, fine, I FULLY respect that. Because it is, essentially, the creation of the building blocks of many potential babies, in the hope that one or two or three ACTUAL babies will result. To me, this is precisely the kind of thing the president is objecting to, and frankly I would have MORE RESPECT for his opinion if he simply said, "we shouldn't make embryos for any purpose, including the possibility of making babies." I am not suggesting that he say this, or that I would be behind him if he did, I'm just saying that this is a more logical position than the position he has chosen to take. I'm just saying that infertility treatments necessitate the creation of embryos that will never become human beings, and if you have an ethical issue with that, I can fully and completely understand that. But, what I cannot understand is saying that we can create these embryos for a single purpose, and all other purposes will be disallowed**, and the only acceptable option for dealing with these created embryos is to allow them to be "adopted" or to allow them to be flushed down the drain.

I also object to the idea of "adopting" an embryo.

Clearly, I am gung ho about adoption. I am all fired up and I think adoption is a beautiful option. But, I'm not sure that when one is allowing the fertilized embryo of another couple to be implanted (er, multiple fertilized embryos in most cases) in one's cozy uterus, and one carries that baby to term, and one takes that baby home, that is not adoption. That is pregnancy and childbirth. It's a fertility treatment option. It sounds like a great option for couples who have malfunctioning ovaries or testes or both, or simply for people who cannot get pregnant themselves and are uncomfortable with the idea of creating more of those problematic frozen embryos. But, it's not adoption.

The generally accepted default position of Family Law is that the woman who has the baby COME OUT OF HER is the mother. That's the name that is going on the birth certificate, unless extraordinary measures are taken. (In Ohio, a surrogate who is carrying a baby that was not created with her own egg CAN allow the person's whose egg was used to be listed on the original birth certificate, but, it takes a court order to do that, and you better have that court order with you when you are filling out the paperwork at the hospital. Ohio does not allow this when the infant is genetically the child of the surrogate, a procedure of questionable legality in this state.)

Further, the default position of the Law in Ohio is that the husband is the father of any child born to his wife during the pendancy of their marriage, and, again, extra measures need to be taken in order to overcome that presumption.

Anyway, my point is, adoption requires the waiver of parental rights, and since the birth certificate is going to show that the parents of the child who comes out of the body of the woman in question are 1. the woman and 2. the husband of the woman, how can we call this adoption?

We do not call it adoption when a sperm donor is used to impregnate a woman - if that woman is married, her husband is listed as the father, not the anonymous sperm donor. We do not call it adoption if a (preppy, dean's list Harvard undergrad) egg donor is used - again, the woman out of whose body the baby came is listed as the mother. We call that egg donation and sperm donation. Why can't we call this process embryo donation???

I don't deny that the so-called snowflake children are beautiful and loved and wanted and wonderful. Surely they are all those things - because they are living, breathing, crying, running, whining actual human beings. I don't have hard statistics on the process, but, I would venture a guess that there are at least two formerly frozen embryos implanted for every one of these snowflake babies, (because the nature of FET or frozen embryo transfer is that it doesn't have fabulous odds for success). How do we explain the loss of those embryos, those embryos that don't become Snowflake children in the quest to create Snowflake children? Have we commited "murder" of some in the quest to create some others?

And even more problematically, what should we do with the vast majority of these embryos who will not ever find a snowflake family? Because, more and more couples are undergoing fertility treatment, which means more and more embryos are being created, and there simply aren't 400,000 families with the means or the desire to become impregnated with these embryos, right now. What will we do when we have 1,000,000 embryos in limbo, and only a few thousand families interested in this process?

Ultimately, I think these embryos, these five and six celled bits of genetic code are...HOPE. They reprensent the HOPE of those who called them into existence. And in those deep icy trays of HOPE, is it so wrong of us to want to peer into them to find more HOPE for humanity, for the paralyzed, for the sick, for the dying, for those who suffer pain and blindness and the horrifying loss of self that is Alzheimer's? Or is it better to thaw them and rinse them down the drain? Or is it better, ultimately, to say, we should not do this at all - that we should not create the building blocks of human beings in petri dishes for any purpose??

Wishing I had all the answers, but stuck here with only more questions,

LM

*(And I'm not even going to get started on the number of possible viable pregnancies that do not result in the creation of a fetus - molar pregnancies, blighted ovums, early miscarriage of undertimed causation. Those hoped for, longed for, prayed for, bargained for, heartbreaking losses of sperm+egg+appropriately prepared uterus...)

**I am not suggesting that we should create embryos solely for the purpose of research, or what is known as "fetal farming" - that is just...icky.

11 Comments:

Blogger -Jenny said...

AMEN SISTA!! One of the 75%.

And one of the whatever percent whose embryos were created and didn't make it.

Embryos don't always = birth!

So, now we can be behind the world cause we have a self righteous dumbass for a president.

Friday, July 21, 2006 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

um, ahem, as one of the 25% I just wanted to chime in ... first of all, I am opposed to creating embryos in a lab...even more opposed to creating huge numbers of them. I think if one is going to use a lab to create their child, they should only do 2-3 at a time and have all of them implanted so that every potential "child" has the chance to complete what was started in the lab. I am totally opposed to disposing of "leftover" embryos. It makes me sick to think of it.

I am for the "adoption" of those embryos and I see your point on the word adoption and agree to some extent, but the fact remains that a couple has to decide to allow someone else to raise their "child" (from the point of being an embryo, granted) so there are emotions involved there. I agree it doesn't really fall into the purview of a typical adoption and all the baggage that goes with it, but it's still different from creating a child the old-fashioned way.

Regarding Bush's veto... he's the President. We are a representative democracy, which means he doesn't have to take a poll every time he makes a decision. I voted for him but I've certainly disagreed with many things he's done while in office. But I respect him for sticking to his principles... it's one of the reasons he got my vote.

BTW..."adult" (non-embryonic) stem cells have already proven to be a goldmine of medical miracles and people can still do embryonic stem cell research, they just won't get a federal grant, that's all.

So anyway, hope you can still be my friend, now that I've revealed what a "conservative" I really am. ;-)

Friday, July 21, 2006 6:24:00 PM  
Blogger LawMommy said...

No doubt we can still be friends. :-P

Having never gone through fertility treatment myself, I have often wondered why they don't just make two or three embryos and implant all of them. I am sure that there are deep, important medical answers to that question that are far more detailed than I probably want to know.

I also want to know more about the stem cells that are harvested from cord blood (i.e. the blood that is in the umbilical cord at birth). I know that there has got to be a plethora of uses for those cells, and it makes me sad that they end up in waste basket unless parents pay several hundred dollars a year to store the cord blood...we should be able to donate these cells and the cord blood to science, but, at least as of 6 years ago when my son was born, this was not a possibility.

Friday, July 21, 2006 9:26:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

I am the 75%, but my husband is the 25% and we get along just fine! LOL! Isn't it a matter of CHOICE?

You can be pro-choice but against abortion, right?

Why not leave it up to the person to decide if they want their embies eligible for stem cell research?

I may not be writing this very eloquently (I am really not a very good writer). I do agree this country is built on checks and balances and I agree the Pres has the power to veto, but hate it when bills get vetoed because there is one stinking line in them which ruins the rest of the bill which may have good things in it.

I guess what I am really trying to say is allow the possibility of this to exist and allow the choice to be given.

There is HOPE in that as well.

Saturday, July 22, 2006 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger -Jenny said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Saturday, July 22, 2006 6:10:00 PM  
Blogger -Jenny said...

Hey---i posted then decided it was too preachy and me. I don't want to use your blog as a forum for my opinion.

Sooo..I am passionate about this...
-J

Saturday, July 22, 2006 6:13:00 PM  
Blogger bluefairy said...

Amen!
I totally agree with you. There is a lot of good that could have come from it now we will never know.

Monday, July 24, 2006 8:48:00 AM  
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Thursday, August 17, 2006 6:47:00 AM  
Blogger ivf2women said...

I'm donating embryos to an infertile couple but I don't believe in embryo donation. See January 2 post for details:
http://embryodonation.blogspot.com/index.html

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 5:53:00 PM  

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