August 11, 2008

They're girls? Oh, then we don't want them...

A while ago, a news story came out about a British couple of Indian heritage who had just had twin girls. The 72-year old man and the 59-year old woman went through all the trouble of IVF to have babies - but apparently, it was all to have male babies. It turns out the doctors made a booboo, and the babies were girls! So the couple dropped them like hot potatoes right there in the hospital (the exact words in the article: they were not going to "accept" the babies, as if they were just products on offer), and the husband even had the nerve to inquire as to how soon his wife would be ready to go through IVF again to try for boys. (Read the story here).

Now, some may brush this incident off as a mere reflection of ignorant traditional culture that devalues girls. Partly true, but there is more to it. It is also undeniable that the whole process of IVF merely reinforces this kind of mentality, where newborn babies are treated like damaged merchandise based on their characteristics. This is why similar "wrongful birth" incidents are starting to pop up all over the place. In Australia recently, there have been at least two that I recently wrote about, where the parents are upset with the IVF doctors for "messing up" their order and are suing for compensation. Who cares if the characteristic is the gender, or genetic predispositions, or physical characteristics? The point is, IVF has sounded the death knell of unconditional parenal love, an incredibly important foundation for healthy child development.