Archive - Feb 10, 2005

Up With Embryos!

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Memo to frozen embryos everywhere: YOU WILL BE DUMB.

At least you will if the radical right has anything to say about it. Here at You Are Dumb, we have a term for the rabid sapient-life-complete-with-soul-begins-at-conception types. We call them "embryo-fetishists", because we thought that was a little bit over the top and funny. Turns out it was actually a bit kind. The abortion battle is being fought on the microscopic front, in courts and labs and that wonderful Bush administration.

The issue is in-vitro fertilization, which is science's answer to our culture's genetic obsession. I'm all for science solving problems, but there comes a point beyond which science stops solving the problem and ends up being an enabler. As most recently demonstrated by Fox's aptly-maligned "Who's Your Daddy", the idea that being a sperm or egg donor carries MORE weight than a lifetime of care and love is so deeply, pathologically ingrained in our culture these days that couples will spend tens of thousands of dollars, ingest fertility drugs, spend years in doctors' offices, all so they can end up with a kid that's truly "theirs".

And I realize that, at the end of the day, human beings are just monkeys who've invented porn. We're wired to try to pass on our genes. But you know, I'm also wired to take a rock and beat the living shit out of any motherfucker that looks at me funny. But I use my brain, override my genetic imperative, and now when some motherfucker annoys me, 300+ people get to read about it through the magic of packet-switching and hypertext transfer protocol. And maybe if more people used THEIR brains, and realized that raising a child is more important than preserving their precious nutjuice unto future generations, we wouldn't have all these leftover fertilized eggs for the fetishists to worship.

In Illinois, a couple has (so far) SUCCESSFULLY sued a fertility clinic for "wrongful death". The clinic's crime? Forgetting to freeze one of the couple's fertilized eggs. The judge referred to them as PRE-EMBRYOS. Not even embryos yet. But thanks to a couple of other laws put into place by the right as they started greasing the slope, in Illinois, life begins at conception (by legislative edict), and in Illinois, people can sue for wrongful death if an "unborn baby" is killed in an accident. Add one sympathetic judge, and suddenly, Allison Miller and Todd Parrish had their BABY KILLED by an unfeeling fertility clinic.

In any sane world, Todd would spank it into another cup, Allison would lie down on the table, the clinic would absorb all the costs and maybe send a nice fruit basket, and we'd all start over. But not these days. These days, those undifferentiated lumps of a dozen or so cells somehow manages to hold the same value as a person. More value than a gay person, actually, since the same people that are extending special legal protection to stuff you can't even see are taking similar "priveleges" away from Team Selfish Hedonism.

Reports say that the doctors called the pre-embryo that was lost "particularly promising". I hate that kind of talk. I mean, I'm no advocate of 100% Nurture, but whatever the fertility doctors mean when they say that, you know the prospective dad is thinking "Like Michael Jordan, only white!" Plus, it takes setting high early expectations to a whole new level. "I don't know why Timmy keeps drawing on the walls with my Sharpies. He was such a promising blastula."

So meanwhile, even discounting the ones that are left on top of the fridge by absent-minded technicians, there are still a bunch of excess fertilized eggs lying around. So science, which as a general rule hates to waste stuff, has come up with a couple of ideas. Some of 'em are just gonna stay frozen forever, at least until the next power outage, so why not use them to see if we can cure diseases? Can't have that. Violates the "culture of life", you know.

"OK", says Science, muttering under its collective, white-coated breath. How about we let couples donate their extra fertilized eggs to other couples without such a genetic hangup, but who still want to go through the "miracle of childbirth"? The babies get born, they're raised by loving parents, and eventually grow into yet another asshole who can cut me off on the highway. Almost everybody's happy.

But that's not good enough for the fetishists They have to make a point. They have to push the agenda as far as they can, even in an area where they should be happy with what's going on. Which is why our government, specifically the Department of Health and Human Services, has taken to calling the process "embryo adoption". Which it's not, but the whole point of changing the language is to push ideology over fact, so surprise is probably unwarranted.

Save your surprise when the Embryonic Proxy Suffrage Act is passed, and The Collective Womb becomes the fifty-first very, very red state.