Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sextuplets, High-Order Multiples and Hypocracy?

I never intended to post about the whole Michigan and Ohio sextuplet issue. So many others have and it's quite a heated topic of discussion. Many seem to have very specific opinions about what they might do in such a situation, and deliver judgement on the doctors and families involved.

I am not offering a commentary on their cases, but one fact that comes up in every single discussion is these couple's religious decision to "trust God with life." Many point out that they think these couples are hypocritical, inconsistent and selectively applying when to "play God." The critics say that because these couples indeed used some form of fertility treatment, that surely must be playing God. Basically it boils down to people communicating that if you're choosing to "help" God by trying to get pregnant un-naturally, then for consistency sake you must be willing to "help" God kill life to stay pregnant and keep the maximum number of babies alive and healthy.

Am I wrong? If I am, I welcome comments right now, but that's the gist of everyone's argument as I see it.

Now, here is what I want to say. These views in fact are NOT in discord with one another. Basically, in manners of bio-ethics, many religious people will hold to general ethical principles. Some might be: beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice (considering if something does good, does no harm, respects the persons involved, and does what is right and equitable). But underlying all these is Respect for the Sanctity of Life (at the one-cell stage). It is the foundation for all decisions.

As many of you know, with drugs, IUI's, and IVF a pregnancy and live baby are not guarantees! Doctors cannot (yet) create and sustain life. That is something that currently is in God's domain. This is why religious couples can seek fertility treatment and not consider themselves to be "playing God" or choosing who gets to live. They are pursuing life, and that's all they can do.

Once life has been created, be it in perfect circumstances, bad ones, doctor's foolishness: It Is Life. And life must be honored/respected. Biblically (not discussing a religion here, just based on the Bible only), there is not any way out of a quadrupet, sextuplet, etc pregnancy. There is not a provision for preemptively trying to save one person's life (the mother, the other babies) by destroying another's.

Couples like the Morrisons, Masches, etc tried to help create life, and life happened. But just because they decide they cannot end it does not argue for hypocracy on their part.

Now, I DO want to say that if there has been any foolishness or lack of thoughtful decision making on the parents' parts, they are responsible in a little way for every little life lost. I don't mean to be cold. But for ANY couple pursuing fertility treatments, if at any time they were given the risks and they proceeded recklessly (perhaps natural intercourse when an IUI with many follciles was canceled) with a "God will protect us" or "God knows what we can handle" or "Each child will be a blessing from God" this is foolish and not to be condoned. And I would categorize it as laziness and lack of maturity on the part of the parents'. Because ART involves creating risks that natural conception would not usually entail, it should be proceed with much thought, wisdom, and sobriety. No life (the mother's, the children in the womb) should be gambled with.

In religious circles, sometimes it is taught that couples can proceed with ART while complying with all the ethical principles if they honor life at the one-cell stage. I think/hope that is what is at the basis of why these couples chose against Selective Reduction.

Now, for all you dear ladies who have read this who actually have walked the sad path of considering SR or even choosing it, I sincerely hope I have not offended you. I am not trying to put forth a judgement or an opinion that ALL must follow. We have different religions! I cannot answer for you or your husband's conscience, as you cannot for mine. I live by the ethics and principles I believe, but my beliefs are my own. I do not look down on any woman who has had to face such a heart-wrenching decision. I do not believe you will be punished for your conscience's choice.

I really wanted to write this because I believe no one out there could get a grasp on why these famlies are perhaps not as hypocritical as many think. Now, flame me. :)


Elizabeth said...

Actually what you write makes a whole lot of sense to me - I was actually thinking something along the same lines about the "playing God" bit - in the sense that NOBODY can MAKE ART work, especially the essential step of implantation. Anyway, I randomly hopped over here from "third time lucky" and enjoyed your post.

Caro said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and thanks for this thoughtful post. You do seem to have summed up the gist of the arguments I've seen.

I think as with all reproductive decisions we can't know what we would do when faced with the possibility of SR until we are in the situation and hopefully most of us will never have to make that choice.

Baby Blues said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I'll be catching up on yours too.

I strongly advocate respecting the Sanctity of Life too. Life is definitely a gift God gives and only He could take it.

Trish said...

Honestly the whole notion of not helping God sort it out pisses me off.
Do these people not take a tylenol when they have a headache? Maybe God meant for you to have a headache and you should follow His plan.
If people feel so strongly that we can't aid/assist/interfere with "God's Plan" (which always seems to be said as though they'd spoken with Him and have His written instructions) I say let them go live with the Amish.

I don't know what I would do in their place. I truly don't.
It could be argued that NOT doing SR is direspecting the sacntity of life because it's very likely that NONE of them will live.
That's a very individual decision and I hope to never be faced with it.
But the judgemental BS really gets to me.
My God gave me free will and the sense to make a good decision.