Sunday, July 25, 2004

As Nature Intended

You know that Roy Lichtenstein print-the one that says "Oh my God, I forgot to have a Baby!"?

Well, according to Josephine Quintavalle, this sort of forgetfulness is at the very root of the causes of infertility.

For those of you not already familiar with some of the current ongoing debates about reproductive technology in this country, allow me to introduce Countess Josephine Quintavalle, co-founder of "Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE)", a "public interest" group.

CORE should really be called Criticism of Reproductive Everything, because that is their basic stance. Quintavalle is an outspoken critic of IVF. "Everyone seems to think they have the absolute right to babies and that medicine can put it right for them if they can't," she complains.

She has been at the epicentre of legal challenges brought on behalf of CORE against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority including a really interesting preimplantation genetic diagnosis case which I will write about once I have done more background reading. But her remit seems to extend to commenting on as widely and obnoxiously as possible on all things reproductive.

In fact, the Countess of Asshats has said so many unbelievably infuriating and irritating things, there is enough material to keep me blogging for quite some time.

Let's start with the Ovarian Tissue Transplant case. 32 year-old woman, diagnosed with cancer has some of her ovarian tissue frozen prior to undergoing chemotherapy. Once she is well again, the tissue is replaced. She gets pregnant. No one is quite sure if her success was a result of the tissue treatment, since she did have one remaining ovary during the chemo. But whatever. It's nice news for her, and it may represent hope for a lot of women facing up to the possibility that cancer treatment will render them sterile.

In wades Quintavelle. According to her, this is all cause for concern. Quintavelle is worried! Very worried! Because this treatment may end up being used as "a lifestyle choice for designing when you want to have children." She has commented that "women should have children, "when Nature intended," in their mid-20s."".

Whoa! What a revelation. And to think all this time that I have been Iabouring under the misapprehension that nature will allow me to have children in my early thirties, or possibly even later. But I guess Mother Nature must be really pissed off with me for having the temerity to try to get pregnant now. If only I had known! Was there a memo or an e-mail or something? Did anyone else miss it, too?

Even if I had received the memo, I'm not sure what I would done about it, considering that during my mid-twenties I was trapped in a loveless marriage, obsessing over someone I couldn't have, working in a dead end job earning a pittance, friendless and alone, severely depressed and anorexic.

But hey, no worries. Because despite my utter utter selfishness in waiting until I was sane, solvent and in a secure and loving relationship (does all that constitute a "lifestyle choice"?) I now realise that all I need to do is have some ovarian tissue removed, frozen and transplanted later on. Hooray! Sign me up, cause that sounds like fun. Just the thing to enable me to carry on greedily pursuing my career and my goals in life, and defer having children until after menopause if I feel like it. Pass the Chardonnay!

I think most people do appreciate that all technology, including reproductive medicine can to some extent be dangerous, can potentially be abused. There are ethical problems that do want careful consideration and healthy debate. But, correct me if I am wrong here, I didn't get the impression that anyone would ever sign up for IVF as a part of an overall "lifestyle choice".

I wonder if Countess Quintavalle has any notion of the misery, the heartache, the stress- leading up to the point where a couple come to understand that if they want to pursue their dream of being parents, they require assisted conception. I somehow doubt it, sitting in her privileged sphere of judgmental self-righteousness. It seems to me what Quintavalle is really saying is that the only people with an absolute right to have a baby are the ones who get pregnant naturally. Like her. The rest of you women out there should also make sure that you have babies when Nature intended! What? Haven't got your act together in time? Infertile despite your youth for some other reason, like you simply don't ovulate? Well, in that case you are expected to suck it up. No medical treatment for you, you selfish/unworthy bitch, clearly you are not meant to be a mother!

All I can think of in response is that if you remove the "O" from Countess, it spells something extremely rude.


At 2:06 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

People like the countess scare the hell out of me! I suppose I also, according to her, should have tried to get pregnant in my mid twenties when I was unmarried and in a terrible on-again off-again relationship. The thing is, this woman probably would then have criticized me for trying to be a single parent.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Soper said...

Well, since we are going to make people have babies before they are ready too (um, isn't that why women took so keenly to birthcontrol?), let's just continue the logic and go back to the good ole days when Mummy and Daddy arranged a marriage for old countess asshat and she had to have sex with a gouty man twice her age, simply because it was a "good match" and we have to keep the bloodlines pure. Rule Britannia!

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait a minute Ms. C(o)untess-
I started trying to have a baby at 20 f'ing 3. Thats right 23. And it turns out I could have started at 14 or 44 and the results would have been the same. I had a messed up uterus that caused 6 miscarriages and never would have worked without reconstructive surgery. So do those of us who start before mid 20's get to mourn our inabiltiy to have children? Do we even get children? Who gets the privilige- the good like you blessed with working parts?
Barren Mare
And by the way on the - there is hope side- I am now 40 and have 4 children. 2 through adoption, 2 through my repaired uterus. I remember where you are in this journey, and I remember the pain and the angst, and I hope seeing women like me lets you believe in your future. Where you are right now, it sucks and its awful and I am so sorry you are going through it.

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck her...more hubris than even her station in life can accomodate.


At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, and here I thought I was in my mid-20s. (25, started trying at 23). All it's gotten me is a year of treatment hell and one miscarriage. It turns out, like with the previous poster, that I could have started trying at 14 and gotten no better results. Huh. Anything to say about that, Ms. Quintaville, or should we just be written off as collateral damage?

- Sonetka

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Pazel said...

We tried while we were in our late 20s and had the same problem we have now, male factor. So why is my age the big issue with her?

Men can freeze sperm before undergoing chemo. Does she have a problem with this for lifestyle choice? Or is it just when women do it?

All women are eventually forced into infertility by menopause at some age (and some way too early) but men are not. Is she going to make some similar proclamations that men should not become fathers after a certain age? Doubt it.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Jen P said...

brilliant post. Absolutely brilliant. I have shivers and I'm pissed. Thank you for opening my eyes.


Post a Comment

<< Home