Sorry, I know it’s harsh to get up in the morning and to be confronted with this sort of news story. The French government is launching what they call a “solidarity campaign” (story in French) to encourage women to give their eggs (anonymously) so infertile couples can have a shot at parenthood.
I’m all for family and children, but I’ve never been a fan of assisted reproduction. Mostly because I don’t think it’s a good idea to force Mother Nature into something she doesn’t want to do. I realize there is a lot of pain and anguish involved when two people realize they are infertile, and I also understand that the desire to have at least one child can be quite overwhelming. I can see why someone would want to undergo fertility treatment and improve her chances to conceive. But asking other women to contribute their own eggs is something else entirely. I know I wouldn’t do it; these are my eggs and any children resulting from same would be mine, regardless of how many layers of Cartesian “logic” I applied to convince myself they’re not.
This isn’t solidarity. It’s more like Brave New World and it creeps me out.
Rebecca adds: The article hints at the real problems here (it’s not a shortage of women willing to go through the physical pain, medical risk and moral conundrums of anonymous egg donation) but doesn’t pursue it, probably because being judgemental is in even worse taste on the Continent than it is here. Luckily, I have no such reservations.
The reality is that female fertility starts to decline in one’s late 20s. As Sylvia Hewlett wrote in Creating a Life, this isn’t about fairness or equality, it’s biological reality. The French restrictions on ART for women over 37 may seem unfair to a 40 year old who wants medical help to conceive, but they’re based in that reality – with or without artificial means, at that age women are less likely to get pregnant, less likely to carry a fetus to term and deliver free of complications, less likely to have healthy and normal pregnancies.
Europeans are becoming famous for their low birthrates, and for delaying not only motherhood but also marriage and moving out of the parental home. The solution isn’t to conscript the ovaries of strangers, it’s to reassert the importance of family within French culture.