Monday, July 11, 2011

In Vitro Violence

I've never given much thought to the post-implantation violence begotten by the process of IVF, but after a heart wrenching discussion with a dear friend last night, I've had my eyes opened to a hidden world of incredible loss and unimaginable evil.

The process of in-vitro fertilization is intrinsically evil in its commoditization of human life by the intentional creation, manipulation of and, far too often, the destruction of designer embryos, purchased by desperate, misguided parents and coaxed into existence by truly mad science. 

What I failed to realize was that even after the creation of 7 or perhaps 9 tiny babies, 3 of whom would perhaps be lucky enough to be considered 'viable' and implanted into their mother's womb, these 'chosen ones' were still far from home free.

My sweet girl friend lost one of her precious twin daughters at birth last year, and has been attending a grieving group for mothers of multiples who've suffered similar losses.  Except, as it turns out, they have much less in common then one might imagine. 

For starters, of all the member couples of their group, my friend and her husband are the only couple with 'natural' twins.  All the other parents resorted to IVF to conceive their double (or triple) blessings.  What was sickening, however, was the process by which those 'lucky' children were selected for implantation into their mother's wombs.

IVF is known for its practical application of eugenics, whereby the medical team identifies the 'highest quality' embryos for consideration, taking into account the parental preference for health, strength and even gender.  Practically speaking, parents can custom-order their children from a sampling of 7 or 9 embryos yielded from a successful round of IVF.  What the medical staff will usually downplay, however, is the fate of those unlucky 'extra' embryos - children who end up frozen in sterile labs for an indeterminate number of years at best, or at worst, discarded as so much laboratory waste.

I thought this was where the heartache of IVF ended, but I was wrong.

As the grieving parents went around the group sharing their tales of loss and struggle, a macabre theme began to emerge, as couple after couple recounted choosing to 'selectively reduce' the number in their brood following a successful embryo transfer.  Too successful, it turned out.

One couple remembered the feelings of 'relief and certainty' which followed the selective elimination of one of their triplets at 20 weeks.  (Note: selective elimination = mid term abortion) The mother shared her certainty over the decision being 'just so right... and that rightness was confirmed when the doctor told us that the remaining twins were one of each gender!'

As my girlfriend recounted the story through her own tears, I gripped her counter top as my head spun, trying to process what I was hearing. Her own loss of a daughter was so raw and recent, and here she was, face to face with another mom in her grieving group who had willingly ended her child's life.  But why her participation in a grieving group?  Had she been moved to remorse and conversion by her violent choice.

Not exactly.

As the result of her 20 week abortion of baby #3, the perfect, remaining set of twins were compromised when her cervix failed to close completely following the 'procedure.'  She was ordered onto strict bed rest and required to lay at an awkward, inverted angle to maintain the pregnancy, but sadly she lost another baby at 27 weeks.  A few months later she delivered the surviving triplet, a little girl.  Incredibly, this woman went on to share with the group that she and her husband had tried for another child 'just to be fair' to her daughter, now an only child, but were forced to abort baby number 4  after an amniocentesis showed possible evidence of Down's.

In summary,  thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, this infertile couple was able to conceive, select, freeze, destroy, and eventually deliver one perfect 'product' of conception into this brave new world...  No word on whether surviving daughter came with a warranty or a return policy.

Isn't progress grand?


  1. Bob, I really can't provide the kind of service you're looking for, but perhaps this link will be helpful to you-

  2. It's too bad we can't play Pilgrims and go settle some uncharted territory... But seriously, I wonder what the consequences are for a person growing up only to recognize that their very existence was contingent on their parents whim and fancy. What will it be like for a child to realize that they have almost a dozen dead siblings? That's frightening.

  3. This breaks my heart. As a momma of a preemie, I see a lot of this in the preemie support circles. How can people who claim to want children so badly be so callous about how they go about it?


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