Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The People Inside Me

Today Mississippi is voting on Initiative 26 which would state that personhood begins at the moment of fertilization.

Now I know something about fertilization. I had several eggs - by my count around 36 eggs - pulled from my body on three separate occasions and mixed up with Mr. H's sperm in a petri dish and then some of those eggs, the ones that successfully fertilized and made it to day three intact, were put back in my body in my grand effort to conceive Baby H. Of those roughly 36 eggs, only one, ONE, made it into a living breathing human being. Let's think about what happened to those other eggs.
  • Each round of IVF, about half of the eggs either didn't fertilize or didn't make it to day three. Now the ones that didn't fertilize, no big deal. But the others that fertilized but then died? What about those? Under Initiative 26 would I or the IVF clinic be on the hook for those deaths? I'm saying not me, because it's not like I had the eggs in my possession. 
  • Once the eggs made it to day three, they were inserted. Round 1 we inserted the two (or three, I can't remember) that made it. I did not get pregnant that round. So again, I ask, who's on the line for those deaths? This time, looks like it might be my fault because obviously they were in my body. Immediately following the implant, I flew to Paris for work and Mr. H. and I walked up the steps of the Eiffel Tower. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that was why I didn't get pregnant on the first round. I blame Mr. H. for this as he was the one who wanted to walk up the steps - I wanted to take the elevator.
  • Round 2 was pretty much the same, minus the stair walking. I tried to take it easy, but the three "persons" that were inserted never became a baby. This month though we did have one embryo left over. We froze that one for possible future use. 
  • Round 3 we decided to throw in all the embryos that were viable, four. After the initial positive pregnancy test, while waiting for the ultrasound, I crossed my fingers for two weeks that three of those four hadn't hung around and I had only one Baby H. in there. Does my wishing for just one make me a murderer? Maybe in Mississippi.
  • And what about the frozen embryo that we never used? Well, Mr. H. and I decided we were done after one baby, so we donated that egg to research. Again, not sure if I or the IVF clinic should be on the hook for that. Maybe both of us - gave it up but they used it for research.
So by my count, that's nine embryos that were fertilized, inserted into my uterus that at some point expired. So that's nine counts of murder and half a count for the frozen one I donated. Nine and a half counts of murder. Somebody better lock me up because I could use a break - 18 month-olds really take it out of you.

Is this scenario a little extreme, probably. What will likely happen is IVF clinics, for fear of persecution, just won't operate in Mississippi. Can't conceive naturally in Mississippi? Sorry, travel to another state or don't have kids (I won't even mention the laughable "just adopt" option). Employed by a IVF clinic in Mississippi? Sorry, move to another state.

I could go on and on about the other potential ramifications of this law: making certain birth control illegal, making abortion illegal even in cases of rape or incest or danger to the mother's life, possibly criminalizing miscarriages. I won't, because I have faith that the good citizens of Mississippi will realize that creating "persons" out of roughly eight-cells is probably a step or two too far.

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