nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whoa...Couples Undergo In Vitro Fertilization, Then Abort?

Apparently this happens when relationships fail or women have been pressured to undergo the procedure.
For the most part, my experience of couples who want to have children, and can't, has been empathetic--get them off to a fertility specialist who can evaluate and, if appropriate, proceed to in vitro fertilization (IVF).  A job well done...and sometimes they come back, happy with the gift of a healthy infant.

This is the kind of thing that sustains my original desire to become a doctor.

So, I was taken aback  (Telegraph, June 7) that in Great Britain, under their Freedom of Information Act, there are people who undergo the expensive (to the taxpayer) and risky (to the fetus) procedure of IVF, then get an abortion.

In 3 decades of medical practice I've seen people do almost everything you can imagine, but it never occurred to me that the longing so many couples experience, the trouble they go through to overcome the cruel accident of infertility, the happy result they seek...could lead to termination.

Admittedly this occurs in very few cases, but the reasons offered don't seem to justify a single case:  the relationship breaks up or the woman underwent IVF under pressure in the first place and decides afterward that it's not what she wanted for her life.

The law is clear that people can decide to do these things, and an unwanted child--even one deliberately sought--is an unfortunate happenstance.

But there's something callous and disrespectful of human life about it all, what one commentator described as "treating babies like designer goods."

That description resonates with me.  In vitro fertilization under these circumstances becomes a "performance enhancement" or an "image improvement" in the same way that botox, face lifts, and liposuction are.  Child-bearing as an accoutrement, like having a Lexus and a swimming pool.

Having a child should mean something more than adding a link to a relationship, and women should never have to undergo unwanted IVF.  Bearing and raising a child (for both partners) is a lifelong commitment, not a fashion statement or a here-today-gone-tomorrow motive. 

Fortunately for the vast majority of couples IVF is a blessing brought about by modern technology.  But we need better ways to evaluate couples who undergo IVF, to make sure they are there for the right reasons and with a clear understanding of the commitment.

People can disagree about whether a potential life is the same as an actual life, but we shouldn't engage in the grave and costly responsibility incurred with a toss-it-away attitude.
Doc D

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