Thursday, September 24

Reproductive quandaries thanks to IVF. Big news?

This past week has been IVF mix-up mania on
They have now run a slightly different version of the exact same story every single day this week.
I realize that it's a slow news week what with the flooding in Atlanta, the ongoing health care debates and the ongoing financial crisis.
Clearly a single case of IVF mix up is well worth the in depth coverage it has been receiving.

Apparently a woman in Ohio is 35 weeks pregnant with a baby that is not her own. Her IVF clinic implanted her with someone else's embryo, and she and her husband decided to carry the fetus to term and then give him to his biological family.

All of this makes for a wonderful premise for an episode of L&O. Perhaps in a ripped from the headlines version they can have the two families fight over the fetus/infant once it's born. Or the biological family could try and kidnap the pregnant woman. Oh wait, I think L&O has actually already done several episodes just like that.

Ultimately, I think CNN is simply using this family to provide some rather overwrought headlines. There's nothing better than a little family drama mixed in with science gone wrong.

And actually, I think CNN is focusing in on the least interesting aspect of the situation.

The pregnant woman (& husband) already have three healthy children. The only reason they went back to the IVF clinic was because they still had 5 frozen embryos and it was against their religious beliefs to destroy them, or to leave them unused.

While I firmly believe that families should be given absolute control over their reproductive choices, I have to wonder about these types of situations.

There are already entire organizations that recruit women to impregnate themselves with 'leftover' embryos.
In many situations they don't even expect these women to parents any children produced. They just want to prevent embryos from being destroyed.
Given the number of already born children who are currently living in poverty/abusive/bad situations both in the US and abroad, I'm wary of both individuals and organizations who seem to value embryo preservation far more than the protection of already produced children.
Or in this case, the health of the woman/fetuses involved. This particular mother became deathly ill when pregnant with her second child, and due to complications delivered both her second and third child prematurely. While no one in this family has suffered long-term effects, I imagine there is a rather high level of risk involved for both the woman (now 39) and this fourth potential child.

I realize that I can't espouse to support reproductive choice and then say that this woman should/should not have tried for a fourth child despite the health concerns.
If she and her family wanted more children, they are well within their rights to try.
While it's unusual and upsetting that an embryo mix-up occurred, from my perspective the rest of the situation is far more troubling & thought provoking.
I wish that CNN would either delve more fully into the more interesting aspects of this situation or leave this personal family store entirely alone.