Sunday, July 31, 2005

Fertility Treatments, part 2

I took some time to think about the NPR story on older mothers a little more, and realized that something else bothered me about one of the arguments presented. One of the interviewees explained that they do not have an obligation to offer in vitro fertilization to post-menopausal women because infertility after menopause is natural, and not a disease state. Okay, that's sensible. It seems, though, that the medical profession offers all sort of procedures to those want and cannot afford them for things that have nothing to do with disease. I'm thinking Botox, breast implants, and many other plastic surgeries, all of which have risks to the woman involved. Some of these may have legitimate purposes for those who have congenital problems or for burn victims, for example, but it's hard to deny that these are often performed as elective procedures for those who just want to "look better." One might argue that those procedures only affect the individual woman, not a child as in the case of the older mother. I'll leave the implications of these procedures to society and women's self-respect overall to you to ponder.

Additionally, the interviewee stated that we wouldn't offer in vitro fertilization to a pre-menopausal, young girl, either. Again, sounds like a reasonable argument. However, issues of informed consent and responsibility would be much more problematic in, say, an 8-year-old. There are existing laws on voting, statutory rape, driving, criminal liability, etc. that inform how we as a society think about how able a young person is to be responsible, accountable, and able to understand or consent which do not apply to older women. It also ignores the differences in how developed women's bodies are at different ages.

Just something I'm pondering... I do try to avoid offering too many personal opinions on this blog, in favor of presenting informative resources and stories on current issues that are relevant to all women, regardless of their perspectives on hot topics. I think it's worthwhile, though, to examine and question the assumptions that inform health care decisions from time to time. Stay tuned.
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