22 March 2006

29. Fertility Treatments

Dear fertility treatments,

Quite frankly, you give me the heebie-jeebies. Not just because my experiences with hormonal birth control suggest that modern medical science might be even more mystified by my reproductive system than I am, but that's a good place to start. I could go on for longer than even I care to read about how said medical science reflects a culture that's ambivalent at best about women exercising control over their own bodies, but I'll try not to go there too much. After all, you're part of a whole cloud of technologies that for better or worse are changing pretty much everything about reproduction for people who can afford the state of the art, and now that the metaphorical genie's out of the bottle I've got to learn to accept the good as well as the bad, just like everybody else.

Speaking of that cloud of technologies, it occurs to me that you're in many ways the flip side of contraception, of which I am a big fan, and it's an interesting thought, maybe even a useful one. What would it do to discussions of birth control if they addressed the kinds dedicated to causing births as well as preventing them? Intellectually, I'm forced to recognize that true reproductive freedom should include both, even if my emotions aren't quite on board with the idea. Maybe my knee-jerk negative reaction to you isn't all that different from the feelings driving the so-called "pro-life" activists who want to ban contraception as well as abortion, even when it seems painfully obvious to me that the former prevents the latter more effectively than laws or protests or any of a number of things that make me so angry I don't know if I could even write a letter about it. Then again, it's not my goal to impose my beliefs on others — I write letters to abstract concepts instead of people who might answer, and that mostly because it helps me to express and understand my own feelings and opinions, which are so obviously and sarcastically always right. But I digress. I wish I had something clever to say about how I hate that modern medical science inflicts you — and your mirror twin contraception, for that matter — almost exclusively on women. Sadly, I don't see a way around that problem until some badass invents the artificial womb, and I don't have the money to sponsor that research or otherwise help make that kind of thing a higher priority everywhere. Dangit. Also, I really didn't mean for this letter to turn into such a rant about patriarchy in medicine, but it was hard for me to avoid the subject. Sorry about that.

Where was I? Right, getting the "patriarchy in medicine" rant done and over with as quickly as possible, so I could move on to other stuff. Really, even so-called natural reproduction is fraught with dangers and weirdness, so I shouldn't be surprised that the artificial kind is problematic, too. A big reason you're so upsetting to me, of course, is that I can't shake the feeling that there's already enough people in the world, maybe even too many, and it feels like a terrible waste to devote the aforementioned state of the art to making more people instead of learning to get along with everybody who's here already. As always, I'm trying to speak only for myself here, just like I was with all that scary radical feminist stuff in the last paragraph. That said, I can't get behind the idea that my genes are so special that they need passing on, even if a nagging voice in my head screams, "I could shit a better baby!" at the sight of some little darlings I meet. No, I'm not particularly eager to add to the teeming mass of humanity that so often looks to me like the source of all the problems in the world (by which of course I mean my world, because I'm completely self-centered like that). Speaking of those world problems, don't get me started on how you're only available to a small and incredibly privileged segment of the world's population, fertility treatments, and how if everybody consumed resources at their incredibly privileged rate, we wouldn't have a world left or we'd all have starved to death already or something equally dire and irrelevant because in reality we don't all live the same way and there's still a long way to go before we can even say that everybody lives well. See? Don't get me started, or I go off into run-on sentences and useless apocaphilia.

I think it's a good thing that we don't all live the same way, and it's an especially good thing that not everybody thinks like me, or I probably wouldn't have made it to the point of writing all this, for lack of ancestors both close and distant. Furthermore, whether I like it or not, some of the people who think differently than I do are women so determined to have children of their very genetic own that they'll submit to you, fertility treatments, even if just the idea of that is alien and horrifying to me for all the reasons I've described in this letter. Sigh. No matter what else I say on the subject, at least I can hope that you and the aforementioned insane-to-me determination produce people who feel loved and wanted, even if I'm still more concerned about the unloved and unwanted people currently inhabiting the world than with anyone who might potentially come to share it with them someday.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, fertility treatments. If I ever decide I want to be a parent, it won't be with your help. In fact, given my ambivalence about my own genes, and aforementioned concern for the people who are already here, I might enlist the help of an adoption agency. While using what I've got might be cheaper, if that doesn't work out for any reason I'd rather pay the cost of adopting than the price of technologies I don't trust — especially who knows what risks with my body. Besides, as far as I can tell, kids, like all people, are complicated and expensive no matter what.


Started 25 January 2006, published 22 March 2006, last updated 24 March 2006. Title abridged 1 December 2011.