By Jason Menard
How far is too far? How much is too much? And what right to we have to make decisions for other people – both living and yet-to-be conceived?
Those are the questions that are constantly laid out before us and questions for which there appears to be no globally acceptable right answer. And even when we feel comfortable with our own decisions as to what’s the right answer in our lives, life continues to throw us new curveballs – just to keep us on our toes, and less certain that we’ve figured things out.
The latest head – and soul – scratcher is the story coming out of Montreal of the mother who has frozen her eggs so that her daughter, who is undergoing a procedure that may affect her fertility, could give birth in the future. In the end, the daughter would be giving birth to her biological half-sister, yet expected to raise her as a mother.
Is it right? Is it wrong? Is it for us to decide?
Morality is such a fine line to tread when it comes to making decisions. My wife goes outside in a tank top and shorts, and I’m fine with it. People from other cultures may look down on that because she’s exposing too much skin. That’s they’re choice and they’re entitled to their beliefs, just as I am to mine. Gay marriage? I’m fine with it – after all, I figure it just strengthens the depth of my bond to my wife when I’m involved in an institution that celebrates love in all its myriad forms. But, if your God tells you it’s wrong, who am I to say no? Everyone’s entitled to their beliefs as long as you’re respectful of others’ rights to do the same.
But when it comes to the unborn that’s a different story. We’re not talking about people who have the ability to make a decision for themselves – we’re talking about future humans who have yet to be conceived. And, in the case of the Montreal family, you’re talking about a decision that will have ramifications for the rest of the child’s life.
I believe in pro-choice, in that the woman has the ultimate right to decide. However, abortion is about terminating a pregnancy – preventing, for whatever reason, a child from coming into an environment where it is not wanted. That is a horrible decision for anyone to have to make, and it’s not aided at all by those who look down upon the women who have struggled to choose this option. As a 33-year-old male, I figure I’m the last person who should have an opinion on abortion – although I seem to be in the minority with that view judging by the plethora of middle-aged white men and past-the-age-of-childbearing women who take to picketing hospitals that administer abortions. It’s always easy to condemn something that will never impact your lives. Personally, I’d rather leave that moral debate to those who are impacted by it.
But this case in Montreal troubles me. This isn’t about ending a life – we’re talking about creating a life and submitting the person to a life of challenges and questions. This is a decision that will only have a minimal impact on mom and daughter (or, in this case future grandmother and mother), but will resonate within the resulting child for years. While the decision of the mother to freeze her eggs for her daughter’s use is an altruistic one that seems to have been made with the best of intentions – the desire to allow her daughter the joys of experiencing childbirth – the problem is that common sense seems to have been left out of the equation.
There are several other options available to women who are unable to conceive naturally. Research and science have developed a number of procedures, treatments, and techniques that have given hope to a generation of women who previously would have been written off as “barren.” As well, there are far too many children waiting to be adopted into a loving, caring family. Who knows what technology will emerge in the next 20 years?
Has anyone thought of how the unborn child will feel when they grow up, eventually finding out that grandma actually is her biological mother? Has anyone thought of how this child will deal with the impact of the scrutiny that will eventually find him or her as the child’s story comes out? Will there be resentment? Anger? Confusion?
Maybe it will all work out for the best. Hopefully, if the mother’s eggs are used in the daughter, the resulting child will be born into a loving, caring family where it is wanted. But is it right for us to make those decisions as to how our children will be born?
Again, this is a decision that’s best left to the family, as they’ll have to deal with the repercussions. But, hopefully, at least one opinion will carry more weight than all others – the opinion of the unborn child. Because, after all, that’s the only one that matters!
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