The urge to engage in parenthood is a human desire driven by many things: the need for procreation; hormones; ticking biological clocks; social pressure; greed for social status; the need for the intergenerational transfer of wealth, traditions and knowledge; gender activism, and by much more. Life is short. It was extremely short for Huxley.
Every morning Ruth checks the obituaries, to see whether some of the deceased mentioned in them are known to us. This morning she pointed out this one.
The obituary announces the short life of Huxley, a life that lasted not quite three days – from birth to departure – and touched the lives of his two mothers and of many other people. It is not of someone we know, but it makes me wonder.
The obituary mentions Huxley’s life experiences, that he sustained an acute and severe brain insult during his delivery, that he passed away in the NICU (Natal Intensive Care Unit) of the hospital in which he had been born. It gives thanks to “the staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital NICU with a special thank you to” four doctors.
The obituary even provides a quote: “The meaning of life is to give life meaning”, by Benedict the Bunny (“cuddle + kind; Ethically produced, hand-knit dolls that help feed children,” at Benedict the bunny). It does not mention any of the circumstances of the conception of Huxley, whether it was by artificial insemination, IVF, embryo transfer or surrogate mother, or who the father was.
The meaning of the life addressed in the obituary seems to be to make any mention of Huxley’s father glare by its absence, whether the father was someone who was an anonymous sperm donor or a friend, why he wanted to play a role in causing the conception of Huxley, or whether he should at all have catered to the right of the conceived child to have a father in his life, not even why the father shouldn’t partake of his parenthood. The father should consider himself lucky. Lesbian couples have divorce rates that are considerably higher than those of heterosexual couples (their “committed” relationships last on average one year vs. the five years achieved on average by heterosexual couples), and it has often happened that the fathers of the children in divorced lesbian families were sued, successfully, to limit the parenthood of fathers to be nothing more than the paying a lifetime of child support, even when anonymity had been taken for granted at the time of conception.
Thanks should be given to the taxpayers and the contributors to the healthcare system who foot the enormous costs of bringing about the short life of Huxley and of the heoric efforts to extend his life, not least to the activists and advocates who made it possible to establish the right of “any” woman to conceive (even when she is 65 or older), and the opportunity for the medical industry to reap the income that it earned from the conception and short life of Huxley, derived from medical procedures that will have ranged upwards from more than a hundred thousand dollars.
Take just IVF in such a case. The cost of IVF alone is high, about $9,000 to $12,000 (not including all of the cost of the medication) per attempt. The success rate of IVF is low. It was about 1 in 20 tries in 1985. I had been improved by 1997 to about one in four tries, after which it had levelled off. That means that the cost of one successful conception that results in a viable embryo that is carried to birth is about $10,000 and may be as high as $40,000 and more, of which not all may be funded by taxpayers and Healthcare payers. More at: “Our Rainbow Family — Operation Baby-making”
That is not the end of it. The costs can be far higher yet, and taxpayer-funded research to bring that about continues to expand. Consider that the lesbian couple in “Our Rainbow Family – Operation baby-making,” were “the first lesbian couple at the clinic at that time to request using eggs from one woman to use in the other,” and that now medical research is being done to bring about “IVF same-sex conception less eggs,” using only sperm and no eggs, which is sought to and could enable two or more male homosexuals to become the biological parents of a given child.
The limits of human procreation and parenthood are no longer constrained by the ethics of the manifestations of Nature or by what used to be human nature. The limits are set by human imagination and ingenuity, technological advance, driven by what some consider to be absurd human desires, while the limits set by ethical considerations are being obscured, constantly expanded, eradicated and surpassed, providing ever larger opportunities for profit by the medical industry.
Human procreation and parenthood have seen progress. They have come a long way since the stork, Baby. They have miles to go and many more obstacles to overcome that have yet to be discovered, before they will have reached (or helped to bring about) the end of human existence.