The desire for a child of one’s own is hardly uncommon and certainly understandable. Yet all too often all we hear are accounts of endless IVF cycles and considerations of surrogacy or conception via anonymous sperm and egg donation. It’s easy to market a story of a couple that’s desperate to conceive and after years of trying — and spending a small fortune — finally have a child through some form of assisted reproductive technology. Here’s a story, however, that you’re unlikely to hear:
In a beautiful reflection on her blog “Incarnation and Modernity,” Maria Grizzetti writes about her own decision not to pursue these technologies:
In the natural order of things there are limits and defects to human reproduction. This is precisely what infertility related assisted reproduction technologies seek to defy. We think that we are invincible, that we are one scientific discovery away from effecting miracles of our own making. There comes a point, however, where the impossible is just that: not possible. The prospect of one more scientific discovery comes at a price, sometimes a very high price: that of life and death.
And it is here that the question shifts. One should not, cannot do the seemingly impossible, apart from taking on the very act of creation and, for lack of better words, messing with it. And this is why I choose not to buy myself a child in the manner offered me by the very highly specialized IVF clinics I have appealed to for necessary medical treatment.
I choose not to buy a child because I myself cannot create one, in my body or apart from it. Creation is not an act of sheer human agency, it is one we cooperate in. For all the desire, knowledge and potential at play in the world, nothing we have is something we have not first received. This includes the scientific capacity for ‘assisted reproduction’.