Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Media Generated Ignorance: Designer Babies

Oh. My. God. Cue the fire alarms because my head is about to explode. If you hear any stupid comments from fertiles this week, feel free to thank the jackasses over at MSN, thanks to this article on 'designer' babies, which was the leading banner today. In a clear effort to perpetuate the ignorant misconceptions about what reproductive medicine is truly designed to do, the author, Racheal Le.hmann-H.aupt (who will definitely be hearing from me) just made it that much harder to be infertile. As if we needed that.

Talk about taking a flying leap onto my shit list. From what I've gathered, in one fell swoop, this woman likened infertility treatments to picking out drapes that match the sofa, with no mention of the real stories behind infertility or the need for PGD. She quotes a psychologist (who is not medically trained, mind you) as saying, "One day you'll be able to select for sex, hair color, confidence index, whether they are an optimist or pessimist, whether they are an athlete or a bookworm." But rather than explaining how PGD is actually used today, she leaves it at that and segues immediately into sensationalizing the point that with current reproductive treatment, the 'future' may be closer than we think. Because, as you know, we're trying to create a 'master' race over here.

In failing to paint a full portrait of infertility and by not including any of its real cast members (besides the ones with limitless money and the vain quest for the perfect offspring, which represents .000001% of us), she has made the ignorant more ignorant. If this were your only introduction into PGD, wouldn't it seem to be a slippery ethical slope? This is likely the case for most people. I mean, let's consider the general population. They're closer to reading MSN than the RESOLVE website. And who besides your infertile buddies knew PGD even existed before you explained it to them? That number would be a big honking 0 for me. This is why I find this article so incredibly irresponsible. A true piece of anti-journalism. I believe that in writing this, the author did such a huge disservice to the IF community.

On top of making reproductive medicine out to solely be one's quest for their very own perfect Princeton-bound Aryan offspring, she also added insult to injury by making light of donor eggs, actually at one point comparing the selection process in the accompanying video to 'online dating'. There's no mention that by the time a couple reaches that point, they have been through the ringer with multiple failed IVFs and that a woman's door to a biological child has just been slammed shut in her face. And yet somehow she figured it was appropriate to liken it to online dating? Disgusting.

Further, she described the DC conference for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine as looking like 'a luxury shopping mall of futuristic baby making', as if we all walk into the RE's office and 'choose' which model baby we want. Yeah, I'll take the one who actually survives a pregnancy, thanks. Ugh! I am so disheartened by the message this article sends and that it somehow made it's way onto millions of computer screens. To know the stories of these brave men and women in the fight against IF, to be one of them, to be living in this hell, and to have someone spread more ignorance for the sake of her mediocre tabloid career sickens me. It just makes our fight that much harder.


Sarang said...

Yet another example of the media perpetuating the "IVF-as-the-EASY-solution-for-the-rich-to-buy-their-babies" myth. What about telling the true story...

October 19-25, 2008 is National Infertility Awareness Week. I'm asking author Rachel Lehmann-Haupt to follow up her fluff piece with a real look at what it's like to live the emotional roller coaster of infertility. Not for pity. For basic human compassion.

Send your comments on the MSN article to:


Just Me. said...

I watched Private Practice recently. In 48hours, from being told she has a slim chance of getting pregnant, to another scene, she's pregnant.


Heard about Nicole Kidman and her fertility waters story?


luna said...

UGH!! this is so maddening. if you plan to write a letter, I hope you share it here, which could encourage others to do the same. you might want to tie it into infertility awareness week (coming up oct. 19) for an even more newsworthy angle. b*tches.

Tara said...

I wish IVF and IF were as easy as the media makes it sound. I'll take the baby that survives oregnancy and lives a long, healthy, happy life. Maybe Rachel can order one of those up for me...

ignorance is not bliss

Tara said...

I have emailed this Rachel person - I will let you know if she even responds.

Martha said...

It does sicken me on all levels, especially being a clinican and daughter of woman with IF issues. Thank you and I hope you are doing well, sending my best, Martha

Another Dreamer said...

Bah, I posted a comment the other day and it didn't go through.

All I said though was that I saw the same article and it really irked me too. I hate it when the media pulls that crap.

Nikki said...

I saw the article on MSN yesterday but did not click on it to read it because I knew it would be another inane, entirely wrong perspective of what we endure. I was having a bad day and did not want to inflict more misery on myself.

I did read it today though - and the only thing I'm feeling is sadness. A sadness that says "If only you knew." If she ever knew how it was to find out a genetic disorder ran in her or her husband, and PGD was required to make sure she did not have a baby who would have a difficult life, would she perhaps look at PGD differently then? I am sure she would.

If she found out that she could not produce eggs, and her only chance of a "semi biological" baby for her and her husband was through donor egg, would she not look at the donor scenario differently?

Thank goodness for societies like ASRM that are working their butts off to develop technology to make our dreams come true!

I think I'm going to write to her too - and I should do it before I get out of this funky mood of mine!

I Believe in Miracles said...

That's so crazy.

I was frustrated with Private Practice - because they portrayed egg retrieval and transfer in the same day. And they made it look easy. Grr.

Just me and I must think alike. :o)