biomedical ethics: November 2004 Archives

Thursday we spent outdoors in the cold, preparing the flowerbeds for winter. One of the harder things for me about living in New England has been the seasonality of life. There are seasons in Southern California, but they are more subtle and for years I was accustomed to pruning my roses just before Christmas and planting my bare-root shrubs and trees during the kids' winter break. Having to plan for snow and frost is rough for my psyche.
Gardening is, however, not only good for the body but good for the soul. It gives one time to reflect on all kinds of things, some of which is immediately forgotten, some of which percolates through the mind.
John took the time to write a little about what he was pondering during the gardening spree. I had some thoughts too, welling up as I was planting bulb after bulb (the last of the winter bulbs were discounted anywhere from 20% to 50% so I think I overbought - I know that I planted over 100 of the little beasties and John did his share too. I hope they all bloom!) But the news I heard when I got into work yesterday morning blew all those garden thoughts away. I just don't understand how anyone can beat an infant. Period. I just don't understand it at all.
I think that maybe part of what has happened is that our culture is so focused on planning and control that we don't easily tolerate the inconveniences of life. Margaret Sanger and the Planned Parenthood types have succeeded to a large extent in changing the cultural mileu. I have repeatedly seen that much of Gen X and Y don't seem to get that sex and babies are connected. Kids are repeatedly surprised that they are pregnant, despite the fact that they were having sex (often with more than one person). The contraceptive mentality is so pervasive that kids don't think they will get pregnant without wanting to - even if no contraceptive is used. Dawn Eden has gone into some of this in greater depth as she has dumpster dived PP. But I think that even she misses some of the points about the reasons God gave us sex.
Getting pregnant is seen as an inconvenience, not as the natural consequence of using the sexual faculties. A baby is seen as a burden, not as the greatest gift that God can bestow. An out-of-wedlock pregnancy is no longer seen as an informal marriage proposal. (old joke - a newly wed can accomplish in 6 months what it takes a cow or countess 9 months). Have any of you out there tried to explain the concept of a 'shotgun wedding' to a young adult? The amazing thing is that so many of these marriages did work, because the families of both parties pulled together and because the expectations on marriage were less about romantic love and infatuation, and more about learning to love each other and to work together to form a family.
Abortion has been promoted on many grounds, including the idea that a baby is better off killed in the womb than tortured or beaten after birth. It is a false choice, but horrific cases of child abuse like the one cited above are sometimes used as fodder for that argument. But I wonder if the dehumanization of the fetus and embryo that is a necessary part of abortion 'rights' has spilled over into a dehumanization of the human infant and human child? When we have so-called 'ethicists' like Peter Singer who state that parents should have the right to euthanize a born child, why are we surprised at reports of less formal infanticide or child abuse?
There is a large and vocal group that states the way to prevent abortion is through the promotion of effective contraception, and (though this part is usually whispered) encouraging the sterilization of 'the unfit'. It seems logical - people who aren't pregnant don't usually get abortions. It takes a lot more thinking to see how contraception, by encouraging 'free sex' and by disconnecting sex from babies, can actually lead to an increase both in abortion and in unexpected parenthood. I really think that we need to get across the idea that if you aren't ready for parenthood, you aren't ready to have sex. And in my ethos, being ready for parenthood means being married. Not having a certain income or various material goods, but having that sacramental relationship that will help you to get through the rough spots of sleepless nights anbd colicky babies, of sassy teenagers and rebellious toddlers.
I am actually not happy with the concept of a planned or unplanned pregnancy. Pregnancy is not really something that can be planned. It can be anticipated and prepared for, it can be a total surprise, it can be a happy event or a totally shocking and unhappy discovery - but it can't truly be planned. If you live in New England, you learn to expect snow in winter, but you can't really plan to have a white Christmas.

Playing God?

| | Comments (6)

How do IVF babies turn out?
I would like to say that, in my 10 years as an L&D nurse, I never saw an IVF mom have what we call "An uneventful pregnancy". I saw more than I would expect (even given the age and other medical issues) of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, dysfunctional labor - and a cesarean rate that approached that of Brazil (greater than 75%).
I wondered then, and still do, if some infertility is God's way of protecting some women's health and life?
I made the decision that, as a midwife, I would not take as patients women who had needed this major of an intervention to get pregnant. I think that the midwife is a specialist in normal pregnancy, and that these pregnancies are not normal and should be cared for by specialists in abnormality. I have gotten a little flak on that from some of my colleagues.
One of the interesting things I have learned in studying natural fertility in depth is how many protective measures the body has! Cervical mucous is designed to speed healthy sperm to a waiting egg, while trapping and destroying malformed or unhealthy sperm. One of the most common assisted fertility techniques, IUI (intrauterine insemination) bypasses the cervical mucous. Why not use measures to enhance the health and quantity of that mucous, rather than bypass?
Or why not help men to have healthier sperm through lifestyle measures such as avoidance of excessive heat, avoidance of harmful chemicals, etc?
The infertility industry exists to bypass normal fertilization, not enhance it. It is a sad commentary on our culture.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the biomedical ethics category from November 2004.

biomedical ethics: October 2004 is the previous archive.

biomedical ethics: December 2004 is the next archive.

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