Science meets pregnancy, guilt and abortion

The first thing I want to say about this story in the NY Times, is why the hell was it put in the Fashion and Style section?!?! I hate the way women’s issues get shelved into these sexist categories, especially when they have NOTHING to do with these categories. This article is more about science than anything else. But moving on, it brings up a lot of interesting points about science, pregnancy, motherhood, infertility and abortion.

The article, entitled My Triplets were Inseparable, Whatever the Risks, tells the story of a mother who discovered she was pregnant with triplets after tens of thousands of dollars worth of infertility treatments and years of attempting to get pregnant. They don’t react well to the news, and the doctor recommends they consider “reducing” to one or two fetuses since triplets have such a high risk of complications.

In the end they decide not to reduce, and the pregnancy is as complicated as the doctors had predicted, ending early with the birth of three premature children. Suzanne clearly states her feelings as the two pound babies are born: “I had not kept my babies safe. I had failed as a mother.” She continues, “I was afraid to be involved, to fall in love with my babies. In my mind, science had taken over, and like a mother bird that loses a chick from her nest, my instinct was to stay away, to keep my distance.”

This story mostly draws questions to my mind:

How fully has science and medicine taken over the pregnancy process, from highly invasive infertility treatments to pregnancy’s controlled by intense amounts of drugs and finally neo-natal treatments and surgeries?

Are the complications that arise from these pregnancies a direct result of our own interference? Should we continue these interventions?

How are the mother’s feelings complicated by such a medicalized process? She at once feels guilty, responsible and helpless in the situation. Medicine has the responsibilty of assisting her along the way, but when something goes wrong, it is she that feels ultimately responsible.

Infertility is a very complicated topic that gets less attention than I believe it deserves. Is part of these women’s quest for motherhood embedded in the fact that without it, they feel that they have failed as women? What ordeals are we putting these women through simply to achieve biological motherhood? Is there a point where we stop? Are any and all interventions acceptable? Susanne herself also brings up the issue of funding:

But with a good insurance plan and Medicaid’s coverage for babies under 2 pounds 10 ounces, we were relieved that we did not have to pay the million-dollar hospital bill. This was not the time to pontificate on how our quest to have a family resulted in a significant financial drain on society’s resources, though that knowledge has weighed on me.

Just some food for thought. Your comments and answers are welcomed.

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