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Dear Jezebel, Thanks for Damaging Public Perception of Three-Person IVF

Do you know what isn’t funny?  Taking a very serious topic and joking about it for several paragraphs at the expense of an emotional group BEFORE you say, “just kidding, this scientific breakthrough could potentially change the lives of many people!”  Thanks, Jezebel, for taking the subject of three-person IVF, a breakthrough that many potential parents who cannot have children without assistance — namely those who are carriers of certain mitochondrial illnesses — have been holding their breath over while debates rage on across the world, and putting forth every stereotype about people who need to resort to assisted conception; all in one article with an incendiary headline:

You Could One Day Have Your Very Own Designer Baby

We’re not talking Vera Wang babies.  Child boutiques where parents will order up their perfect offspring.  We’re talking about a very invasive, very expensive, potentially life-threatening procedure that the vast majority of the world would utilize only as a last resort.  If people truly knew what went into an IVF cycle, what it costs emotionally and physically (not to mention, financially), they would not live in fear that people would abuse this scientific breakthrough.  There is no real fear of designer babies; there is only hope offered up to people who — unlike the fear-mongering authors — are faced with the dilemma of potentially passing along a life-threatening illness if they want to build their family using their own genetic material.

[A side note: the first person who offers up adoption as a solution to family building while being a carrier of a genetic illness gets my foot up their ass.  Unless you truly understand the logistics of adoption; understand the financial and emotional costs to all members of the triad; AND have a clear understanding of the potential parent’s inner psyche, please don’t suggest adoption.  Everyone knows about adoption.  If they didn’t choose adoption, please know that there is probably a very good reason, even if you aren’t privy to it.  And that reason should be respected vs. cavalierly used as a tool of judgment.]

On the other end of the spectrum is The Beast’s coverage of three-person IVF, which cautions why we shouldn’t be freaking out about three-person IVF (thank you!):

Along with the Food and Drug Administration’s two-day meeting this week to discuss “three-person IVF” came the usual freak-outs about slippery slopes, designer babies, and other science-fiction fantasies (or nightmares) coming to life—magnified  by the strange thought of three people creating a healthy baby instead of the good ol’ two.

See, Jezebel, that is a way to report on a serious topic without offending your readership or doing damage to the public’s view of a topic they’re struggling to wrap their mind around.

Responsibility: let’s bring some back to the media.


1 a { 02.28.14 at 11:37 am }

I’ve about had enough of our news media. Isn’t it scary that something called The Daily Beast can actually deliver a more reasonable argument than most other media outlets?

2 Nicole { 02.28.14 at 1:12 pm }

The coverage on NPR (both on point and here and now) was so terrible and inflammatory as well. They kept reading off listener responses on the on point coverage and bringing up the why not just adopt argument. I was dying listening to it. Then thankfully a woman called in with mitochondrial disease and pointed out that no she can not adopt since they would turn her down due to her disease so it is this or never have children.

3 Melanie { 02.28.14 at 4:45 pm }

I was at the gym when I heard the teaser on the news channel in front of me “when we come back: are designer babies becoming a reality?” I actually said “really? WTF?” (But I said the words ) out loud and ripped my ear buds out of my ears. I didn’t even want to hear the story.

4 Hope { 03.01.14 at 8:57 am }

Happily, the comments on that Jezebel article are much better than the article! Lots of people calling BS.

5 Lori Lavender Luz { 03.01.14 at 10:07 am }

A big smooch about your side note.

Off to read the Jezebel comments.

6 Pepper { 03.02.14 at 2:44 pm }

Yes. This topic is so fascinating to me, and not just because we used IVF to have our daughter. It’s just so amazing and cool. And I had such a hard time really figuring out the big breakthrough(s) because all of the coverage was so frustratingly ridiculous. Media, just give me the facts once in a while.

7 chickenpig { 03.02.14 at 6:18 pm }

I too heard some of the NPR coverage while running errands. Which is how I ended up in the parking lot shouting at my radio. The topper was when the show’s host got irritated at the ER’s tone because he was losing his shit over the paranoia and adoption questions.Grrrr….

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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