Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a few last thoughts on procreation

When I first read about the whole bone-marrow-into-sperm alchemy project yesterday, and its implications for lesbian couples, I felt excited. It had a real sci-fi comes to life feeling and I was actually more amazed that they were able to do it at all than I was thrilled with the possibilities. Similar to the way I'd feel if I learned that they'd figured out a way to clone wings onto people's backs. Cool! But... wait...

Then I got a couple comments to the post saying "I know I'm not supposed to be for this, but I am." And I wondered why people "know" they're not supposed to be for it. Because I have the same feeling and I'm surprised to realize it's common.

I think, for me, it's because I like things that are natural and I distrust allopathic medicine. And maybe it's easier for me, because I don't want to have children. I think children are probably really wonderful for those who have them, but in the bigger picture, I think it's a tiny bit arrogant that every single person, at least in this country, believes that they should be able to have a kid if they want one.

I know "arrogant" is a strong word and people can rain the hate mail down upon me, but in a world already bursting at the seams with people and with so many kids who need homes, it seems a little unreal that fertility-challenged folks (whether they're challenged by low-sperm count, or no-sperm count) will spend thousands and thousands of dollars trying everything in the lab to get knocked up.

In terms of biology, I understand the natural urge to make babies with which we're hard-wired. It is a biological imperative that we maintain the species. But the species isn't exactly endangered at this point, at least not due to low birth rates. I also think it may be worth while to follow nature's lead: maybe there's a reason, in the very big picture, why a certain percentage of humans can't seem to make babies. Maybe the natural occurence of humans who prefer to choose same-sex sex partners is part of that. And just because we CAN override what is trying to naturally happen, doesn't mean we always should.

I guess, at the very bottom, I don't really have an argument for nature over technology. I guess what really underpins all this is a desire that people start considering the wider world when making decisions of all kinds. Especially in this country, but in other countries too, we are brought up to be very self-focused, selfish and sometimes no-holds-barred when it comes to getting what we want. I think it would be beneficial to relax that nearsightedness a little and start seeing beyond the tips of our noses as we're moving through the world.

Just a thought.

8 Comments:

Blogger stumptown dreamer said...

rpp,
what you are saying is leagues ahead of its time ...
spending time around babies these days i took one 3 month old for a long walk in the park today and on my walk, amongst many thoughts, i wondered who her parents have made legal guardians if something were to happen to them. i wondered if they had even thought this far. and i could feel very easily that were that task to be entrusted to me i would pick it up and do it to the best of my abilities, no question.
i have felt that at other times, around many children, that somehow in the bigger scheme of things my actions and being here are as responsible for them and their future as my genes and visual likeness would make me responsible for a child of my own. (does that read right?)
regardless of who has parented whom, whose genes reside in which body i share the earth with all these little beings and they are part of the responsibility i feel in treading lightly on the earth and leaving it as intact for them as i possibly can.
a long ago situation of mine involved a person who was not fertile absolutely fixated on having a child that was somehow genetically theirs. years later, in a new relationship, the dear woman he was with went through such unbelievable, intrusive, potentially dangerous, overly unhealthy and completely unnatural processes so that his genetic likeness could be injected into her eggs i could hardly stand to hear it, and breathed a big sigh of relief that it was never my path to take. they have since made two gorgeous children, after 8 or 9 failed tries, and i still feel that it was all a bunch of selfish bullshit...
today in the supermarket here in the UK i saw a child get slapped by its mother. it was such a shock to see that in a public place, to hear that sound of skin on skin and mostly to see the normalcy in the child when he hardly reacted at all to what must have stung.
parenting is so much more than bone marrow, boners and genetics...
my two cents...

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying this. I was a little worried that no one would...

12:42 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

stumpy -- i love what you write. but of course, we do agree in this particular area, fortunately...

anonymous -- thanks for your support, but can i ask why you chose to comment anonymously? we all have our reasons, and please don't take it as a criticism. i'm just wondering. i'd like to know who else is out there secretly supporting this potentially unpopular proposition.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous south carolina girl said...

yeah. when it comes right down to it, i agree with sk. everybody's children are everybody's children; we're all responsible for each other. when a parent abuses their very "own" genetic, biological child, we have to answer for that. the world is very crowded and there are so many children without parents.

part of the problem is that people are all brought up thinking that it is "normal" to have children, and not normal to not, therefor. people are also brought up thinking that they have to have one of "their own" children. when in reality we are all each other's own children. there is so much work to be done in the world.

it is scary what people will go through, what women will go through to give their men the baby HE has to have. maybe if childbirth and pregnancy were thought of a woman's achievement, rather than a man's achievement (which ironically our culture sees it as), and if these things were thought of as options, rather than requirements, women wouldn't be pressured into such nonsense.

but still, i think it is pretty cool the idea of two lesbians making a baby without a man! even if i have to betray my principles to say so...

12:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RPP - Do you really have to ask? The only reason I post anonymously is because I am too technologically challenged to figure out how to set up my own account.

SCG - my experience has been that more often the women who the ones who are DESPERATE to have their own child, not the men. I think women are pressuring themselves. We can't blame it all on the men (although I'm all for blaming as much as we can on them).

2:35 PM  
Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

anon -- waspy, is that you??? i should've known.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Zoe said...

I completely agree that good parenting has nothing to do with genetics. It's too bad that so many states have made it nearly impossible to adopt if you are single or gay. Does that mean we should be making sperm out of bone morrow? Well not necessarily, but it's pretty cool that they can.

While I try rationalize away the deep nagging that I need to be a biological parent, I try to keep in mind that it's just part of my biological imperative. It's what we are programmed for, it's in our genes. So much of our behavior is all about reproduction. And it's a good thing or we would never have survived as a species. It's just unfortunate that we've advance enough technologically and put value in traits that Darwinism seems to working in reverse.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Melinda Barton said...

I, too, think it's a little nuts for people to be so obsessed about being the biological parent rather than just being willing to be a parent however it comes. I know a few people who are raising children that aren't theirs for a variety of reasons. If you didn't know, it would be impossible to tell that they aren't biologically related by the way they interact with their children.

With the sperm from bone marrow thing, I think it's a surefire way to gain parental rights since only the biological parent in a same-sex relationship has rights before the law in most of the U.S. I think most if not all gay parents worry about that.

Personally, though, I celebrate this new tech for one reason and one reason only: to get my Mom's goat. My mom needles for grandkids sometimes. I like to tell her that I'll get a girl pregnant some day or die trying. She usually responds with, "I thought we discussed this when you were a teenager. It doesn't quite work that way." So, now I get to taunt my mother with the reality of my potential woman-impregnating abilities. How's that for cool?

12:25 PM  

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