Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pushing the Limits

I recently finished reading the book, Everything Conceivable by Liza Mundy. I knew picking it up that it would be one of those books that was a challenge to make it through without throwing it out the window. I was right. There were definitely a lot of "chuckable" moments. But since it was a library book I refrained from chucking it, managed to finish it and decided to share some of my thoughts with you here.

The book is about all the new technologies which are making it possible for almost anyone and everyone to have children, regardless of their age or level of natural fertility.

It starts out recounting an unusual request made to a California pastor. A parishioner who recently had given birth to twins was requesting that the pastor write in some part for the egg donor at the baptism. The pastor says, later in the book, that she thought for a minute then had no problem writing the ceremony.

This is just one of the many subtle, or not so subtle, ways in which the author normalizes the use of these technologies. She repeatedly points to religious and pro-life people who think that these technologies are perfectly acceptable, as a way of implying because there is no consensus on these issues, then there are no moral guidelines at all. Relativism at it's best.

Despite the slant however, it was an interesting, if horrifying, read. The book details all aspects of assisted reproductive technologies, from artificial insemination to IVF, from sperm and egg donors to surrogates, from married couples who want a child, to gays, lesbians and single-by-choice moms. There are several chapters dedicated to discussing the boom in multiple births, twins, triplets or more. And one dedicated to discussing what to do with "left over" embryos.

One of the most horrifying chapters to me was the one on "selective reduction," the process by which a high-order multiple pregnancy is "reduced" down to a "manageable" size, usually twins. Ms. Mundy reports that the doctor who pioneered "selective reduction" had seen one pregnancy of twelve fetuses. She goes on to say that the woman's doctor was not truthful about the number of fetuses, telling her that there were six instead of twelve. Ms. Mundy does not report on the outcome of the pregnancy, but one can assume that all but two were aborted.

The way in which the doctor lied outright to this woman is just one example of how unscrupulous many in this field are. Even Ms. Mundy refers to assisted reproductive technologies as the "wild west" of medicine. Of course, she thinks more regulation is in order.

In this she is mistaken. More regulation will not change the essential problem with these technologies, as that lies in the fundamental immorality of most of the methods. Only when people stop trying to play God and instead repent will there be any end to the horrors that are detailed in this book.

For anyone who wants a better view of what's wrong with the world this book is for you.

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