28 July, 2008

Kathryn Lopez is Wrong on IVF

Kathryn Lopez is deeply opposed to IVF.  You can read her article here. I've e-mailed her. Perhaps The Corner will print my rebuttal. Perhaps they'll do a New York Times and not. Fortunately, I have my own blog and I don't have to rely on The Corner. :)

The text of my e-mail follows:

Sorry, Kathryn, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

But sometimes what we want isn’t what is best for us — or for the children. And sometimes the more compassionate thing — as anyone who has ever gone through or watched a couple go through the grueling, expensive emotional and biological rollercoaster of assisted reproduction knows all too painfully well — is not to opt for IVF

The point you miss here is that these couples go through this rollercoaster every month without IVF. They do everything they can. Sometimes they take medicine to assist. Men take special vitamin complexes to enable their swimmers to “get off their barcoloungers” (Friends quote--TV). They track their fertility cycle.  They “do the deed” during the right time of the month. And then they take the test. And nothing.

Every single month.

And each month drops them farther and farther down that black hole of despair. Is God punishing them?  Is God trying to tell them they’re not fit to have a baby?  Did they screw up when they were younger and harm their bodies somehow making reproduction impossible?

And they scream at each other. Not blaming the other, but just lashing out in frustration. And they go to bed every night praying, not for a baby, not for a quick way out, but for God’s sake, something, anything that will help them turn their spouses back into the people they married, and not some self-hating anger-driven person they barely recognize.

And for many, IVF is the answer to that. And no, it’s not perfect. And there are lots of doctors practicing it that shouldn’t. But, just like anything else, there are IVF support groups on the net.  People can go there to get answers to their questions, to find out if their doctors are “men behaving badly”.

And, it’s expensive. And insurance doesn’t cover it.  And not just IVF, but any assisted fertility treatments are left by the wayside by most insurance companies. Despite the fact that every insurance plan in America covers abortions 100%. You want to rail on something, rail on that. The insurance companies have made it quite clear that they’ll fund killing babies, but not fund helping people have them.

And people spend much more money on it than they can afford.

And adoption is an option.

But why shouldn’t IVF be one too? There’s no “slippery slope” here, and it’s wrong to even claim that there is. The slippery slope is that we devalue human life to the point where we feel that it’s not worth doing everything we can to help people have children.

Here’s another quote that shows that you clearly don’t get it:

Would a society taking into consideration what the mechanization and laboratorization of sex has done to marriage and families, do it again?

Mechanization? Laboratorization? You make it seem like we’ve entered some Logan’s Run type society where people never have sex. They just go to the doctor to have a baby. That’s not what IVF is all about. And it’s not nearly as mechanized or laboratorized as you seem to think. Most of the steps are taken at home and in privacy and bring the couple together even more than any sexually intimate act could hope to.

There’s the hormone shots, the shots to make the eggs more viable, the shots and other medicines to fight off antibodies in the women’s system that think the egg is in invader and must be killed. There’s the special diets, and again with the vitamins and medicines for the male as well. And, let’s not forget the endless trips to medical specialists for both parties, making sure that there’s nothing wrong with their reproductive parts, or possible surgeries to attempt to fix either one of them if there is. Meanwhile, the spouse comes also to all of these doctor visits, and for the surgeries, sits in the waiting room and prays that “this time they’ll find something”, “this time they’ll fix it”. 

This isn’t mechanization. This is love. Completely and 100%. You don’t go through all of this without loving your partner, and you demean the people who have survived infertility when you call it that.

if you’ve tried again and again and have gotten nowhere, you might have other thoughts.

But, as I said, infertility couples have to deal with this stark reality every single month. And have to deal with it with our without IVF. IVF gives them the chance for hope again. Is it a good chance? No, even the best IVF doctors will tell you that you’re looking at about 1 chance in 3. Per $12,000 treatment. If you do everything right and everything goes perfectly, you might be able to raise your odds to 1 in 2. But you’re still throwing darts.

(BTW, if any doctor tells you your chances are 1 in 2 or better, run, don’t walk, out of his office. This doctor is not to be trusted)

But for many, this 1 in 3 chance  is a far far better chance than any other chance they’ll have.  And make no mistake, they’ll go through this monthly pain you bring up every month even without IVF. IVF gives them the chance to find the end of this painful cycle once and for all. Most reputable doctors will tell you that after two or three times if you’ve still had no luck, then it’s time to consider adoption or something else. You read all the time about people how have gone through 5 and 6 (or more) treatments, but they should never get there. And it’s attitudes like yours that put them there. You want to keep the genie in the bottle. You want to move back to the 70s. If we move forward, if the information becomes more well known, if more standard practices are realized, then people will be less likely to be seduced by quacks and will have the real information and will have the opportunity to make the right decisions for them and for their family.


UPDATED: Fixed bad link to Karthryn's article, which was posted at NRO in general, not specifically The Corner.

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