The State of Your Uterus Based on the Headlines
Stories about infertility are feeling a little bit like popcorn this month. There was a story here and there, and then in one week, my Google Reader was filled with stories about birth rates and donor gametes and clinic advertising.
Well that is certainly a neck-swiveling question, Forbes (I’ll admit that I don’t actually read Forbes. This article was linked to from someplace much more insipid.) I’m going to assume that the answer — you believe — is “yes” because if the answer was a resounding “no,” it wouldn’t make for a news article. It’s an article about fertility doctors providing fertility loans, and I wrote my feelings on this practice this past summer. I actually thought it was going to be something on the topic that has been floating around all week on the study about slippery advertising on the part of fertility clinics. I am going to guess that the media believes that fertility clinics are taking advantage of their patients based on the way both these stories are being reported. I don’t know what I believe beyond the fact that articles like these drive home the fact that reproductive medicine is a business as much as it is a medical solution. How do you feel about the loans and the advertising?
I thought this headline from the Huffington Post was rather rich. Why do you think people might be surprised? Could it be because the mainstream media often speaks about IVF as if it is (1) the only option to treat infertility and (2) a slam-dunk solution? Because we speak about 48-year-old actresses having twins without ever mentioning either treatments or donor gametes? Do you blame women for believing that we’ve somehow evolved to stay fertile longer in the same way that we’ve extended our life span?
Why should we, the reader, be surprised or find it newsworthy that people believe what they read and absorb the messages provided by the media?
This Jezebel article is only remarkable because infertility does not appear anywhere in the post. The author is musing on why US women are having fewer children and fewer abortions; meaning, they’re not getting pregnant. Birth control is floated as a reason, and I’m sure it is. But if infertility rates are growing, doesn’t that have the possibility to affect the overall birth rate? Unless fertile women begin having more children than normal, the overall birth rate numbers are going to shrink.
This is a very interesting story. Let’s take out the nanny’s actions because I find them deplorable. Someone asks you something in confidence, and you go air their private life to the mainstream media. In my world, that’s a dick move. No one violated her rights or did anything illegal. Her employer asked a question, she gave an answer, and then months later, she went to the New York Post to talk about her employer and her fertility issues. There was nothing in the article about her employer treating her unfairly afterward or making her life miserable because she wouldn’t be a gamete donor. In fact, it states:
The employee still left on good terms a few months later. To the best of her knowledge, the mother has not had more children. Elizabeth lists her as a professional reference and, until now, has only mentioned the proposition to close family.
Until now are the key words.
But the employer… did she do anything wrong? On one hand, she is in a position of power and her question could be seen as coercion. Is the employee really free to say no to such a personal request if she depends on that employment? And at the same time, I wonder how our thoughts on that first question come into play when we consider all known-donor situations. I would personally ask someone to be a gamete donor, and while I don’t have gametes others would want, I would have never been offended if someone had asked me to be their donor. Are we responsible for someone else’s comfort when reaching out for help? Is it wrong to make a non-pressured, non-coerced request of another person? Would you be okay with another person asking for a major donation — gametes, organ, or bone marrow — from you?
Personally, it’s okay to ask me anything. I may not always say “yes,” but I wouldn’t be offended.
I think I was just really bothered by what was implied in this situation. Perhaps it hit too close to home since I would consider a known donor, yet how does one ask if they worry about destroying a relationship in the process of asking?