I will also be boycotting my own advertisers forthwith
Several of you have pointed me towards the story of an Australian woman, now a mother of twins via IVF, who is suing her doctor for transferring two embryos when she asked for only one, and asked me what I think. Given how well such essays of mine have gone over in the past, I am forced to conclude that you enjoy watching me expose myself as the judgmental ass I can occasionally be.
Well, who am I to say no to such an irresistible invitation?
Here's what happened — just the facts, which are undisputed. The woman, whose name has not been published, had been pursuing parenthood with her female partner for some time. After three unsuccessful IUIs, they turned to IVF. According to their testimony, they told their doctor they only wanted one child. Just before the mother was sedated for embryo transfer, she asked that only one be transferred. The doctor warned her that even with a single-embryo transfer, there was still the risk of conceiving twins. "Do not even joke about it," she said. "I only want one."
Hilarity ensued when the doctor — Oops! Fuck! — transferred two.
The doctor doesn't dispute the couple's testimony and admits to the mistake, which occurred when he failed to communicate the couple's wishes to the embryologist who loaded the catheter. He is being sued for almost A$400,000 — the couple's estimated cost to raise one of their daughters to the age of 21.
Now, having opinions is a dangerous hobby, not for the faint of keyboard. Normally when I post my reactions to news item pertaining to fertility treatment, I manage to offend, oh, let's say about a third of you. This time I'm shooting for a healthy 85, maybe 90%, somewhere in that neighborhood. You might want to stand back while I do my thing, because almost everything about this case makes me fucking crazy.
First off, do you know what? I'd sue, too, if I woke up pregnant with dizygotic twins after explicitly asking that only a single embryo be transferred. In my case, I'd be suing not for the cost of raising a second child but rather the cost of a fetal reduction, because, uh, I wasn't kidding, Doctor: I really only want one. So I'm with them as far as that goes, whether their reason for requesting a single-embryo transfer was related to matters of health, as my own would be, or of convenience.
However, I am uncomfortable expressing any understanding for the parents' position because, lordy, do they seem like a couple of assholes. They claim that the mother who carried the twins has — get this — lost some of her ability to love — wait, lemme look and see how many twin moms are nodding in rueful agreement — and that they can no longer function as a couple because their everyday lives have been taken over by the day-to-day demands of child-rearing, a fate from which I suppose we carefree parents of singletons are exempt. They claim they were traumatized by the act of purchasing a double stroller, for God's sake. How can I not think they're hateful?
And yet. I've seen the suggestion that if they'd really only wanted one — see above, Doctor, I mean it — they'd have reduced. Or they'd have placed one of their daughters with an adoptive family (a path the women considered but rejected as being unfair to both children). Or they'd have adopted a child themselves, that being the only way to be absolutely certain of having a singleton. I read these statements and it makes me want to defend them again, because what a shitty, shitty choice to have to make, all because someone else was careless.
But that little surge of compassion doesn't last long, because I keep coming back to the inevitable: Someday these girls, the daughters, are going to know that their parents were so offended by the mistake of their very existence that they felt someone should be made to pay. That their parents were eager to face the court and say not "We are requesting that the doctor face professional censure," but "Here's what we're owed for experiencing the terrible disappointment of becoming our daughter's mother." See? Assholes.
And then I have to feel sickened and sorry that this case will surely be used as ammunition by those who would bar same-sex couples from trying to become parents. That the case involves a lesbian couple is, to my mind, irrelevant. (All that fact proves is that lesbians can be assholes, too. Those of us concerned with establishing real equality must gracefully concede that we have, after all, gained some ground.)
So when I think about this case, I basically end up het up and pissed off at everyone involved: the doctor who was so unthinkably careless; the couple who are so grossly unsympathetic; the people who say — yes, really — that the couple should shut up and be grateful they got pregnant at all; and the small-minded bigots who would use this as proof that gay people are unfit to be parents. I'm even pissed off at myself, if you want to know the truth, for being so goddamned judgmental.
I guess that means I have to count myself in that lucky 90%. Will the tiny unoffended remainder, you gentle 10-to-15-ers, please turn off the lights when you leave? As irritated as I am, I may never read this blog again.