Pin the Sperm on the Egg

“Pin the sperm on the egg” was the headline on the Center for Genetics and Society’s blog post on this story.  I think that photo was from this fundraising event but I’m not sure.  This is from the CGS summary:

A San Francisco couple put a twist on the baby-making process by hosting a $35 a head party to raise funds for assisted reproduction. Although Brian and Molly Walsh have saved $10,000, they need an additional $15,000 to cover the costs of IVF and PGD (Brian has Marfan syndrome, a condition they do not want to pass on.) Coupled with an online auction, they hope to raise enough money to cover the procedures.

And here is the detailed story CGS linked to, and here is an excerpt of that:

“You can’t help us in the bedroom, but you can help us make a baby,” read the invitation to the party, which may have been a Bay Area first – a fundraiser to collect money for costly fertility procedures. With insurance companies reluctant to pay for the cost of in-vitro fertilization and few states with laws requiring insurers to do so, couples unable to pay for the procedure, which runs $12,000 on average, have few resources other than their own creativity.

Few states?  Guess whether Massachusetts, with its mandated minimum credible coverage, is one of them.  Good guess.

Even if it is not covered, $25,000 is $25,000, being spent on something that never cost anyone a cent until now, and $25,000 that ought to be spent on more important things than creating a regular old dime-a-dozen human being.  $25,000 isn’t much to couples that make enough to buy big houses and nice cars, they’ll just wait a year to buy their new car, or get a slightly cheaper house.  Funding IVF and PGD privately is one of the main reasons for the “Bush tax cuts” that gave rich people extra money they could throw around.  But of course not all couples are rich, many people don’t have $25,000.  Now, should they all have to resort to fund raisers and bake sales, or should they be forced to adopt or feel they don’t have a right to have children without PGD and create more people with Marfan disease (Joey Ramone had Marfan syndrome, not that he didn’t suffer from it, but it shows that it isn’t the end of the world.  Perhaps that’s why he wanna’d to be sedated 24 hours a day though.)

Obviously, PGD will have to be covered by mandated insurance.  The price of it may drop as more and more people use it for more and more diseases, but do we really want it to become the rule?  Who doesn’t carry some gene for something bad?  And what about all the embryos that are not selected, isn’t it demeaning to be selected to live while your potential siblings were discarded?  Rent Gattaca if this doesn’t make sense to you.  Plus, think of the amount of energy we are going to have to devote to giving everyone PGD, it simply isn’t possible, it isn’t sustainable, it isn’t economical, it isn’t conservative.

Some parents also use PGD for sex selection, especially gay couples:

Dr Steinberg said between 75 to 80 per cent of gay and lesbian couples who came to him for treatment decided to choose the sex of their baby, using the controversial IVF procedure and embryo screening known as Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).

“If they choose gender, about 65 to 70 per cent of male gay couples choose male,” he said.

“About 85 to 90 per cent of female couples choose female. So the guys don’t seem to care (about the gender) quite as much as the women.”

The gay couples are able to choose their baby to order, taking into account the physical characteristics and education level of egg donors, who are aged between 18 and 27.

Whether people use PGD for sex selection or other more justifiable reasons like not passing on one of their parent’s bad genes, the public is subsidizing IVF and it is one of the reasons health insurance costs are skyrocketing.  Massachusetts mandates IVF coverage.  That’s right, not only am I forced to pay for IVF for couples that are unable due to medical reasons (probably a result of pre-marital sex and delayed childbearing) to have a conceive, I am forced to pay for IVF for lesbian and gay couples and maybe even surrogacy for gay male couples.  Mandated.  From everyone.

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