Reproductive medicine seems ever more problematic, and the latest difficulty to hit the headlines is the fact that some women who have undergone IVF, sometimes on the NHS and sometimes privately, then change their mind and have an abortion. “Data obtained from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority reveal that an average of 80 abortions are carried out in England, Wales and Scotland each year following IVF treatment.”
Of course, there is much shock from Fertility specialists – but what did they expect? The having of a baby has been turned into a just another consumer activity, the baby itself nothing more than a commodity, and although it might be an exaggeration to say easy come, easy go, there is an uneasy feeling about the reasons given for such abortions that a baby is simply another lifestyle choice that can be returned if the purchaser changes her mind.
The Sunday Times tells of Jilly, who was “pressed” by her husband into having IVF – but the prospect of motherhood filled her with dread, and she decided to get rid of the baby without telling her husband. Then there is Victoria, who decided to get rid of her “much wanted” IVF baby when “it became clear that her marriage was breaking up.” I would query just how “much wanted” her baby was if she had no compunction about getting rid of it in such a manner – and it makes me wonder, also, about what would have happened had her marriage broken up after she had had the baby. Would she have left it with a note in some hospital lavatory? Would she quietly have suffocated it? I remember reading some time back of women who went for late abortions (thirty weeks plus) to Spain: their reasons were distressingly similar. A baby, it seems, is only allowed its right to life if the mother’s relationship with the father is just so: anything less than perfect matrimony and the unborn baby becomes an unfortunate victim of its parents’ unhappiness.
Of course, the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Association) is most put out about all this, because not only are many of these babies both conceived and then disposed of at public expense, it also raises questions as to just how searching are the questions asked of prospective parents. I suspect they are also more than a little concerned about a hostile public backlash, in which at the very least, it is demanded that those wishing to avail themselves of IVF should do so at their own expense.
On the letters page, a Fertility Centre has written a letter in response to an earlier article on a different subject, but their attitude is for me summed up by the statement that “It would be helpful if the media would address these issues (of anonymity and recompense for sperm and egg donors) from the perspective of infertility sufferers – a growing but silent group who require the same reproductive freedom as fertile people, albeit with medical intervention.” Note the weasel words “the same reproductive freedom as fertile people”. The implication here is that reproduction is a divine right that all should enjoy – and of course, with the freedom to reproduce comes also the freedom to decide not to, and the freedom to get rid of the “products of conception”, as such places choose to refer to an unborn baby, if it proves inconvenient.
It is astonishing that pregnancy becomes such an end in itself that women can say, presumably in all honesty, that they had only thought about the process of becoming pregnant, not about the resulting motherhood. To go to great lengths to become pregnant, irrespective of who is paying for it, only to ditch the unwanted baby thus produced, takes our throwaway society to new depths of depravity.