Commentary by American Life League president Judie Brown
It is always fascinating to read news reports about women and pregnancy. There seems to be a concerted effort to present women as superior beings who can exercise their choices in a way that glorifies some perceived power possessed by women. You will read reports of women who went to extraordinary lengths to bear a child, including the use of repeated reproductive technology therapies such as in vitro fertilization. Or you might encounter the popular theme of those women who have aborted "problem pregnancies" and how relieved they were to be able to exercise that "choice."
At either end of the spectrum resides a common but rarely noted theme: motherhood.
There is the woman in New Jersey, for example, who at the age of 56, after repeated attempts through in vitro fertilization, finally conceived - if that is the proper word - a set of twins. It is said that her story created an international buzz due to her age and the extent to which she pursued her goal of having a child.
This woman spent more than four years of her life - and thousands of dollars - and employed the expertise of several fertility specialists before success was attained. The treatment that finally resulted in the birth of her twins came about through an in vitro fertilization procedure that required donor eggs. The donor eggs were used because the doctor informed this woman that at her advanced age, it was not very likely that she would any longer be producing good eggs of her own.
The sperm was supplied by a friend. The woman herself took hormone treatments, had reparative surgery and ultimately was able to carry two babies to term - a boy and a girl. Her fantasy had been realized.
Her doctor put it this way, "I have had women come in who aren't in a relationship, who have never had sex, in their 50s, but always had the fantasy of having a child."
The ethical questions most commonly raised in the medical community are interesting, though shallow. Some wondered if any woman at such an advanced age should be risking the surgical aspects of such treatment, and others wondered whether such a woman would be capable of raising a baby.
Perhaps the most intriguing response came from the doctor who treated this woman, who said, "Everybody's situation is unique. I have people in their late 20s and early 30s come to me and I want to say, "Why don't you get a puppy?"
A puppy or a baby? Perhaps this equation balancing a pet with a human being is part of the reason why I could find no evidence that anyone raised a question regarding the morality of such a practice, whether the would-be mother was 20 or 50. After all, if a child is a mere possession, why would anyone question how the child came into existence?
On the other side of the motherhood coin we find the woman who has no trouble whatsoever conceiving, but lives in a culture where she has the opportunity, and in some cases one might describe it as an obligation, to get rid of her "product of conception." Perhaps she is about to finish her stint in college, or about to buy her first house, or about to take up residence with a new "partner." In such cases it seems only logical in today's topsy-turvy world to resolve the dilemma created by her ability to conceive by negating the result through abortion. Her goal requires that she avoid having a child.
And here we have it: motherhood pursued at all costs for whatever reason versus motherhood denied for whatever reason. Both cases present moral questions that nobody is answering - in fact, no one even seems to be interested in even discussing these questions.
The reason for this is really quite simple, at least to this simple-minded mother of three, grandmother of nine. The true meaning of motherhood has been lost; the true value of a child - a single solitary life - has been overshadowed by self satisfaction.
I feel sorrow for any woman who pines away because she would do anything to become a mother but has not been able to do so. Whether it is because she and her spouse are infertile, or because unfortunate circumstances have made her childless, or because she has realized at an advanced age that she really wanted to be a mother, a woman whose life is not consecrated to God is a woman who longs to be a mother.
The sad fact, however, is that the culture does not understand the root cause of her pain and is thus unable to deal rationally and lovingly with it. As long as she has the money, she can turn to technology to solve her dilemma. She will be left, when the headlines are gone and the notoriety has faded, with difficulties that nobody really cares about. She has become a victim of man's desire to replace God with technology.
I feel sorrow as well for the mother who, in her haste to placate her desires, finds escape from her child by relinquishing his life on the cold, hard table of an abortionist's office, or perhaps by ingesting the pill that will kill her child silently and without as much blood.
In either case, this woman has become a victim of the culture of death, the chase after choice, the mad dash for freedom regardless of the cost. She has bought the lie that on any given day she can have anything she wants simply because she wants it, and to hell with the consequences.
As long as the ego is satisfied, the lust placated or the desire fulfilled, everything is hunky dory. Well, not really.
I may be a bit old fashioned, but I do recall a time when little girls learned that women were created by God to be mothers because they have special instincts, special powers and unique bodily features that make them perfect for the nurture and care of children. That is why, we were taught, women want to be cared for and loved by a man within the context of a marriage ordained and blessed by God.
The woman who pines for a child in her mid-fifties or the woman who despises a child in her late teens or early twenties is a woman who has never absorbed that valuable lesson about why God created women. To my mind the world is a sorrowful place because of this. If we lived in a sane society, there would be no proper place for either techno-babies or trash can babies. But we don't live in such an environment - we haven't for a very long time.
Ours is a bio-waste cauldron filled with the leftover babies from failed in vitro procedures, dead babies left behind by mothers who chose death rather than life, and broken lives devastated by the realization - too late to matter - that it really would have been better if personal sacrifice had replaced self-gratification. Sexual promiscuity has led to tragic pockets of disease, death, abandonment and immeasurable sadness.
What do women want? It's a complex question for a world saturated in sex. But I think there is a cure for all this.
The antidote can be found in an old adage that still rings so very true: you will never know what love is all about until you learn how to love someone else more than you love yourself. That's just the way God made us, men and women.
Release issued: 5 Jan 06