Only last week a British clinic offered cut-price IVF treatment to women who agreed to donate eggs.
Scientists have known for some time that female foetuses develop ovaries after as little as 16 weeks in the womb.
Now researchers from Israel and the Netherlands have kept ovarian tissue from aborted foetuses alive in the laboratory for several weeks.
They stopped the experiment at the point where they believed eggs were about to be produced. Chief researcher Dr Tal Biron-Shental said it was ‘theoretically possible’ that with extra hormone treatment they could have produced mature eggs suitable for IVF use.
Here’s a little story – I have very few neighbours and I like it that way, but the few I do have are great, well one lot anyway. The other two households are alternatively aggressive due to a psychiatric condition or totally disinterested due to a large workload. They’re good people, like the peace and quiet, the lack of suburbia and the options having space around them allows. Around the time the twin tortoiseshell cats entered life at Poddler’s Creek, the neighbours opposite got themselves a twin pair of Jack Russell terrier pups. They often slipped out, ran up our driveway and insisted the world belonged to them, as Jack Russells often believe. I did as Aussies always do with the errant dogs of others; told them in no uncertain terms to ‘Go,Home!!!!’ On one of these forays it seems, they managed to round up and attack the girls living in their owners’ hen-house, leaving wounded and dying hens in their wake. Jack Russells are hunters and as a pack they’re pretty unstoppable if not handled well. In a panic the neighbours got rid of the dogs, no doubt pronounced them unsuitable and had them rehomed. What does that remind you of?
As in many aspects of human life, we so often don’t think laterally, imaginatively or attempt to find the best solution, just the easiest one. Had the dogs been better trained, the hen-house built more securely etc there may have been a very different outcome. It seems we are no longer able to deal with anything too complicated or taxing and continually protect ourselves from the hard stuff. Like coming to terms with infertility. What about the idea that infertility indicates a couple may not be suitable parents and the force of nature or whatever you like to call it, is sending a very strong message that other options need to be considered? No, not adoption, not infertility treatment, but coming to terms with being childless, putting the energy and time into helping children who need it and could benefit in other ways from adult mentoring or commitment. It seems it is no longer possible for us humans to accept that we can’t have everything we think we want, can’t satisfy every need or desire and can’t accept what was once the natural course of life, our lot as it was once called. It was hard, often painful, but do-able for those who had to do it.
My aparents had a number of friends and relatives who were childless. Their childlessness was discussed not avoided and they found other outlets for their love of children, other goals in life which were of benefit to the community and themselves. One couple left their considerable hard-earned savings from their business to the local community to build and equip a library. It has now provided many children and their children with a wonderful resource, a comfortable, friendly space designed to be child-friendly and welcoming. The pleasure, encouragement and opportunities their gesture brought the community and the children of the community is incalculable, long-lasting and manages to change with the times, to be up-to-date and progressive. Not everyone can be successful in business and do what Ern and Dot did, but everyone has something to offer, to put in without expectation or reward, simply for the sake of altruism. How much more comfortable would our world be if we could all dedicate ourselves to being more altruistic, more accepting of our lot and less demanding that life owes us, that we deserve whatever it is we desire and that sometimes we can’t have it all?
While we might do much, much better in our understanding of the heart-break of infertility, the emptiness of miscarriage and the feelings of worthlessness and self-blame we can bombard ourselves with when becoming a parent doesn’t happen, pregnancy and childbirth are natural consequences of a coupled life if the situation is favourable. If it is not, no amount of intervention will ever make it right. The idea that infertility experts and researchers can continue to extend what they do to make human life possible and available to those who can afford it or who rely on the State health services to provide, may be of comfort to the infertile, but to most of the rest of us the limits of possibility don’t necessarily equate with the boundaries of what is acceptable, ethical or right. Those of us who are adoptees will immediately begin to ponder on the status of children produced from aborted foetuses, their identity issues, connection biologically to a mother who was a foetus, is now a dead foetus and the many unique and difficult questions and situations which will inevitably arise if this new development is allowed to continue, enter the suite of solutions for infertility and becomes ‘normal’. It is bizarre, obscene and not a development any moral scientist or researcher could contemplate. What is scientifically possible isn’t always morally right. What adults who are infertile and desperate are prepared to accept remains to be seen. They are a vulnerable and easily exploited group, which compounds the immorality of the the work of the scientists, the researchers and the doctors who do it because they can , because drug companies fund it and because there is big money in it.