Going Too Far

November 18, 2005 at 4:37am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

How do you know when you have taken fertility treatments too far? Is there a “too far”?

Interesting questions, aren’t they? The Missus brought them up, although in a different way, just a few minutes ago. She was talking about how some women go to incredible lengths to have biological children, only to give birth to children with severe mental and physical handicaps. She mentioned that now that she has come to terms with the fertility issues underlying our decision to adopt, she has become very judgmental of women who go “too far” to give birth.

Is there really a “too far”? I think there is. Giving birth ought to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. But my understanding is that, for many women, there’s a strong psychological pull to deny that notion. That is, many women, whether they want to or not, think giving birth is the goal. They are wrong on several different levels, but they don’t necessarily have the capacity to realize it.

How is a woman supposed to know when she is approaching the “too far” barrier, or even when she has crossed the line? Is the line in different places for different people? I think it probably is. Fine then: how do you know where your line is? Even if it were possible to know when you’ve gone “too far”, we all know that being too close to a situation can make us blind to the realities that others see so clearly. Add in all the hormones a woman will have pumping through her body when she’s trying to make these decisions, and you quickly realize that making the “too far” determination is going to be very difficult indeed.

I don’t believe The Missus and I went “too far”. We called it quits somewhere between “urging” the biological process to cooperate and “forcing” it to cooperate. Perhaps that’s where the line lies, somewhere in the gray area between helping nature do her thing and sticking a gun to nature’s head. (If you pull th

e proverbial trigger on mother nature you’ve really taken things too far.) That gray area is, not coincidentally, where the financial costs really start increasing, which indicates to me that the medical community knows they are playing with forces they cannot quite control. As risk increases so does cost. It’s basic economics. The Missus and I judged at that point that the benefits of adoption outweighed the benefits of giving birth, when taking into account the relative risks associated with each. I feel very little regret about not trying “just one more time”. I think that means we made the right decision at the right time.

What about the morality and ethics of taking fertility treatments “too far”? Is it moral to wager that much risk against the quality of life of a potential child? Is it ever immoral to go to great lengths to bring life into being?

So many questions to think about as I wind down my evening.

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