Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Judgy Internet Commentators

As I have started to watch people close to me get pregnant or consider pregnancy, and we have started contemplating a future pregnancy, I’ve thought a lot about babies and pregnancy. Between the internet and real life I’ve gotten to know the stories of many people who have started families with varying degrees of medical assistance. And, as someone in a same-sex relationship, I’ve thought a lot about conception, pregnancy, and parenting with the added complications of fertility treatment, donor sperm, and a judgmental society.

A conversation I had today sent me hunting for this article that I stumbled upon at some point in the past. Apparently, in the UK at least, there are women who go through the whole process of IVF and then decide to have abortions. The article alleges that many of these abortions are elective and not inspired by health concerns or viability of the pregnancies. On a basic emotional level this sounds confusing and disturbing. Why would women pour so much money and time and emotional energy into becoming pregnant only to change their minds? A doctor quoted in the article calls each abortion a “tragedy” and some anonymous group of opinionated “family campaigners” apparently accused the “women of treating babies like ‘designer goods’.” The comments, like comments on many online articles, are mostly angry and judgmental.

It makes me crazy how one-dimensional and uninformed people, particularly on the internet, are about issues like this. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. I am pro-choice, but I admit that I have hesitations about abortion, and I can’t imagine ever having one myself (even in the case of an accidental pregnancy, although that obviously is not a concern where I am in life now.) But Nicholas Kristof informs me that worldwide allowing 100 selectively aborted female fetuses would prevent the deaths of 15 infant girls per year. And I've met several women who do not regret their decisions to have abortions (not sex-selective or after IVF, but in general). Of course there are a lot of difficult issues that need to be addressed concerning fertility treatments, and more so as the procedures get more invasive. Of course new family compositions require adjustment in unexpected ways.

But just because I would not make the same decision as you, it does not mean that whatever you want to do is nonsensical or should be illegal. Sometimes we need to be comfortable with “I don’t know” and with big grey areas where a solution is right in the case of one particular family but wrong in the case of another similar particular family. In some ways we need to lower our expectations of women to not expect new moms or potential new moms to have all of their complex emotions worked out. And in other ways we need to raise our expectations of women to accept that new moms and potential new moms are uniquely situated to sort out the emotional complexity of their own life situations. And when the reality is in the middle, and those moms need to have their emotions worked out in order to make life changing decisions but aren’t there yet, we as friends, sisters, social workers, doctors, etc. need to step up with services and support, not criticism.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article! My reaction was different than I expected. I thought I'd be annoyed or angered after reading it, but I felt sad instead. Parenting is exciting, but mostly terrifying. My heart broke for these women because I know the fear and uncertainty that comes with raising a child. It can seem paralysing if you let it, and without a good support system and understanding friends and family it would seem impossible. Whenever and however you decide to become parents, we are with you 100%!!