Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Forced background checks for IVF

Well, it appears that a new state law in Australia now requires a background check for couples wanting to undergo IVF treatment (aka in vitro fertilization - a treatment to help deal with infertility).

The requirements were included in the Reproductive Treatment Bill passed by State Parliament last December. This bill helped paved the way for single women and lesbians to have access to IVF. That, in and of itself, is an outrage showing the amazing discrimination being shown to these women.

But, that's not all! This law apparently covers heterosexual couples as well. So, now these people can be discriminated against for being infertile. The new law will affect approximately 5,000 couples a year who will have to submit to police checks ensuring they are fit to be parents.
Briony and Lew Sanelle, who completed police checks three weeks ago so they could start trying to have their second child through IVF, said they were insulted by the discrimination.

"My friends trying to have babies don't have to have a police check and go and talk to their doctor before they are given the go-ahead to have a baby, so why should I?" Ms Sanelle said.

"People who have a shady past who they are trying to direct this at do not have to go through this to conceive naturally... this is discrimination."

So, this begs the question: if it's comprehensible to even pass such a law, what does that mean for the population at large? Should all individuals have to pass a background check before they are allowed to procreate?

Should couples/individuals have to pass a police background check before receiving IVF services?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eh why not? In oz you need a licence to have a gun, to fish certain fish, even to tow certain things behind your car. It'd be nice to see less children getting caught up in horrible domestic situations. However, I have no idea how they're going to enforce such a law... curbing off a few more teen pregnancies would probably be a better start than focussing on IVF. On a side note though, it couldn't hurt the US either to have stricter regulation, that Octomum story was pretty scary stuff!
If truth be told, Australian government law works in a very slow (and politically volatile) way, I think we should wait and see how the law will play out...

Merri M said...

Most people have children naturally and usually accidentally! I have issues with IVF personally but why not save at least some unborn children from being born to unfit parents. Octomom anyone?

Farmer's Daughter said...

Biologically, I think it's impossible to enforce a rule that all people need to get approval to have children. What happens if they don't? Forced abortions or adoptions? Impossible.

What gets me here about IVF is that my insurance would cover it (unlimited) in full, and yet I have a $25 copay per month on prenatal vitamins. Um, what? HOW MUCH does IVF cost? Maybe next time around I'll go that route just to get my money's worth (kidding, kidding).

Terra said...

Women in China have had forced abortions - as in dragged, kicking and screaming, into the hospital at 9 months pregnant. It's not impossible. Is that the future of America?

Deoxy said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, I didn't follow the story very closely, but I don't think Octomom did anything that a background check would turn up. She is just crazy, not criminal. I don't like the idea of criminals having children, but I think mandatory background checks can get out of hand too easily.

Diana

Anna in Atlanta said...

So what? Do you know the background checks prospective parents have to go through to adopt? And this is to parent people who are already in the world.

IVF is a privilege, not a right, and if folks are dead set on making new people and want IVF as an option, there ought to be a few questions asked. It's an elective procedure, after all, not cancer treatment.

Katy said...

I can see the "Octomom" argument. I see a huge difference between a poor women with no access to birth control who gets pregrnant by acceident and a well educated women who is trying to have as many babies as possible just for the hell of it.

Still, if you start with background checks, where does it all stop? The whole thing is very slippery slope and I'm not sure we should go there. If background checks before parenthood are a requirement what else are we going to have subject ourselves to for "The greater good".

Honestly, the proceedure itself is so cost prohibitative, that it makes people think really... really hard about just how much they want a kid.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Merri, and well said Anna.
-Sandra

Oldnovice said...

I agree with the others who commented. IVF seems to, more often than not, result in multiple births. Octomom jaded us to the thought, and adoption DOES require a whole lot more scrutiny than it maybe should, IMO.

I agree with the forced background checks for the above reasons. Color me fascist.

Amber said...

Before I had kids I used to lament how low the bar was to procreating. Now that I have them, I think that any barriers are inappropriate. It's such a slippery slope. How can you ever qualify or disqualify someone from such a basic human act? And how can you even evaluate, on paper, someone's fitness to parent? There are so many factors at play that are just not quantifiable.

I'm opposed to the background checks.

As for adoption, I'm not sure what the answer is. If I were giving up my child for adoption I would certainly want to know a LOT about the people who would be adopting. Although for the reasons I've already outlined I don't really like the idea of arbitrary requirements. It leads to a bit of a gray area because it's not so much about one person (or couple's) decision to have a baby, as it may be about someone's decision to bear but not raise one.

knottymama said...

Wow. This is truly frightening. IVF as a privilege? Well, only if open-heart surgery is a privilege. IVF is a medical procedure. Maybe organ recipients and patients of other medical procedures should have to undergo background checks to see if they are truly worthy. What a crock. As an adoptive parent, I have no issues with the strict regulations for potential adoptive parents. Is it unfair that I, as an infertile person, have to submit to stricter standards than someone who gets pregnant? Yeah, it's a little unfair - but, for the sake of the children it is worth it. But to start tying medical procedures to criminal history, even procedures that would result in pregnancy, is outrageous. Besides that - who among us is perfect anyway? The fact that I have no criminal history is due to the fact that I didn't get caught doing all of the dumb stuff I did when I was twenty - stuff that I wouldn't dream of doing now that I have "grown up." So where does the line get drawn? Murder eliminates you from consideration for IVF, but maybe drug possession doesn't? The whole thing is completely ridiculous.

Erika said...

My thoughts on voting "no" included many that are mentioned here - e.g. "octomom." Perhaps these background checks would be more appropriate if they were more psychological than criminal - the thought of spending so much time and hope and effort trying to create life, and then with the possibilities of miscarriage, neonatal death (e.g. prematurity, multiples, etc.)... Although, I would feel some sense of responsibility if I were the MD in the situation - I'm impregnating a couple, basically providing them with 24/7 access to a child - what if one or both of them have a history of mistreating children, neglecting children, or otherwise harming kiddos... At the same time, we can't prevent procreation when infertility isn't present in the same group of people, but we could do such checks as a part of establishing an identity for the child process (e.g. birth cert, social security card, etc.). I don't think I'd want to be put through either situation - at IVF or after the birth of a "traditionally" conceived child, but I certainly would feel just a teeny bit better knowing that someone was attempting to look out for my child... I guess I just might be on the fence... I like the idea and am opposed to it all in one...

--Erika

Spice said...

Nice can of worms Crunch!

Any regulation will cause a debate. I think there should be regulation, simply to protect others from some of the wackos out there, but I'm not sure about laws. It's a slippery slope once you start legislating what people deem as their natural and religious rights.

I voted yes as long as everyone procreating had to... just because a think there are a lot of people out there that should think twice about having kids. Vice versa there are infertile couples that would make amazing parents...

Tough choice. That's why I only have one child. I want to give the kid(s) I have the best I can, so that means fewer kids.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Terra- I meant it's impossible to keep people from reproducing. I am well aware of the fact that forced sterilizations occured here in the US (Read the book _The Mismeasure of Man_).

Farmer's Daughter said...

knottymama- I wouldn't classify IVF in the same category as open-heart surgery. You won't die if you don't have children.

Maybe in the same category as elective surgeries? Not that having a child is like breast implants, but it's certainly not like open-heart surgery.

Eco Yogini said...

Hey Crunchy!
Just wanted to let you know I referred (and linked) to your post on "local-washing"... as there as weirdly been an occurrence in my neck of the woods recently. also, can we maybe imply that you coined it?? :)

on the police check post- unfortunately it's a bit "Big Brother" for my liking, and I say this because I do believe that many people should never be parents- I see too many children who suffer at my work.
That being said, it's a slippery ethical slope... that could lead to worse things.

belinda said...

Honestly I don't think it is fair. I have two babies in my extended family that will be born via IVF this year. Both of these couples would pass a police check but IVF is a process that is emotionally challenging enough without throwing more red tape in their way.

I think reproduction is a privilege, although seldom treated as such these days. IVF is only one way to reproduce. If can't or won't regulate the other form, don't regulate IVF.

Kind Regards
Belinda

Kathy said...

"Should all individuals have to pass a background check before they are allowed to procreate?" - PLEASE, don;t give them ideas!!

And I'm only half-kidding, unfortunately ;)

knottymama said...

Farmer's Daughter - I think that people who struggle with infertility might see it a little differently. Reproduction itself is absolutely a privilege, but I don't see any difference from one medical procedure to another in terms of rights or privileges. One's ability to pay for medical treatment is often the biggest factor in determining if a person deserves the treatment. If I "need" a knee replacement but can't pay for it, well then I would have to go without. No, it would not be life threatening, but my quality of life would be severely diminished. If I could pay for the procedure, I might consider it my right to be pain-free. If I could not pay for it, the ability to undergo a knee replacement would certainly seem like a privilege.

I know that you do not intend to trivialize infertility treatments by comparing them to elective cosmetic procedures. No, you do not die if you are denied IVF. I was denied it by my inability to pay for it and I am indeed alive and well. For me, adoption was always an option. For some, it is not. Some people may feel that IVF is their only option for growing their family. And I suspect that they see it as a necessary medical procedure that would greatly improve their lives even though it is not a life-saving procedure. I don't think IVF is really a right or a privilege - it's a procedure and either you can pay for it or you can't.

The idea that infertility gives the government the right to decide that some people deserve to bear children and some people don't is as dangerous as it is offensive.

Michelle said...

My mother always said, "You have to have a license to open a business or drive a car, but any-old-one can become a parent."

Robj98168 said...

Well we already have laws (and more states are doing it)preventing perfectly good people from adopting children, so my girst intsinct is why not for everyone. Maybe those right wing blow holes would be happy if you had to take out a license to have children. And maybe one for marriage- making it as hard to get married as it is to get divorced. Make it like getting a driver's license...But hell I flunked the written exam and just barely passed the driven.

koolchicken said...

I'm all for this law, I wish we had it here. I think there should be at least the same requirements for IVF as for adoption. I think it's interesting no one mentioned the whole pedophlia motovation for adoption. My Aunt and Uncle considered adopting and they had to do classes, background checks, the works. Because if you want to adopt a kid for free it has to be going to a good home. I don't think that just because you can afford IVF you should be entitled to a child (or eight). Of course I also feel that the second a girl gets her period she should be given b/c with the first box of tampons (or DivaCup). I'm just sick of hearing arguments about procreation. When I hear people start on the whole, "it's a basic human right, people should get to do what they want" I feel sick. The screaming in my head starts and all I can think of is the movie Idocracy. If ever there was a more perfect example of where we'll be if the "basic rights" people get what they want.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone should have a background check before being allowed to procreate (natural,ivf,adoption).
psych evaluation and criminal record check...call me fascist but i think it would make for a happier world.

Farmer's Daughter said...

knottymama I agree with what you say. I certainly don't mean to trivialize infertility by comparing it to cosmetic surgery. However, in my mind, they're both elective.

I also think that the government/health care system DOES weed out people based on cost. It's just not as blatantly obvious as the Australian law. Let's look at WHO can afford IVF (or any other elective procedure). Either you have money, or you have an education and got a job that provides insurance benefits that will cover IVF. And who makes up this population? I'd be willing to guess it's predominantly white, upper or upper-middle class people who haven't been in trouble with the law (hence getting a good job with great benefits). After thinking on it, it's pretty clear to me that we have this kind of discrimination in our country already, it's just more sneaky.

And finally, I'd like to state that I think reproduction is a human right that comes with a lot of responsibility. I don't think that IVF should be denied to anyone any more than other medical treatments should be denied.

knottymama said...

Farmer's Daughter - I think you hit the nail on the head in isolating the population most likely to have IVF. To me, this begs the question "If the intended result is to reduce child abuse, is this the most effective and efficient way to achieve that result?" Someone else mentioned curbing teen pregnancies, which seems like something that EVERYBODY could agree would be a good idea (even though the routes to that end would likely vary). Maybe I am a closet conspiracy theorist, but it seems that the IVF issue is clearly not the most effective way to reduce child abuse. Which then makes me wonder if that is truly the intended result or actually a smokescreen to cover the real intended result. Just another attempt to hi-jack women's reproductive rights? Yeah, I know I'm nuts.

Kim said...

I admit to being more than a little shocked that anyone is supporting the idea of background checks for having children. Seriously people. Listen to it again. Background checks by the government to decide who can and cannot have CHILDREN! You may not cherish your basic rights but I sure do. I mourn as each small freedom is stripped from us by our government. But THIS goes beyond. How very very scary. It's a stones throw from background checks and registration for any conception. God help us.

Everydaywoman said...

All public school teachers in my state--including me--must go through background checks and be fingerprinted to be licensed to work with other people's children. I take no issue with this and was not offended when I had to go through this, because I had nothing to hide or to be afraid of. It was just part of the certification process.

In our society, anyone can have children, without any training, education, license, or whatever. While I would not want our government to decide who is "fit" to procreate (in whatever fashion) or not, I would like to see more education offered so people know what to expect, whether they become biological parents, or adoptive parents, or whatever. We need licenses to drive, to marry, but absolutely NO requirements are set for the most important job in the world: that of being a parent.

I would NOT ask that the bar be set higher for those becoming parents through IVF, but I would ask that we set some kind of a bar for anyone to become a parent. Education is key; not judging another, because who is perfect? Certainly not those in government; they are just people like us. Let's educate, not discriminate! OK, I know, "spoken like a teacher..."

J and J Oxrieder said...

I am an extreme proponent of "prove you can afford to care for this baby BEFORE you have it." If it takes the government to police it, so be it. Draconian I know... but somethings gotta be done, we are WAY over populated.

Well put Merri M and Anna IVF is elective and a privilege not a right.

Lil said...

There are such checks to do before adopting, so why not before any procreation ? I don't really see the difference, it's all about having a child. So the most logical to me is that everybody has to check, or nobody at all ! I really think we are too much on this world, but I also think that reducing births are not the key to reducing "horrible domestic situations", because the number of children doesn't create those situations, they exist because of polotic and economic decisions which have put families in misery...
So, the key to that is to come back to happy families, and the checks will turn useless ! Easy to say I know, but that is really the main point to focus on , no ?

Lil said...

Another idea, which could help to protect children AND wouldn't reduce our basic rights too much : why not have something like classes to do for young parents ? Maybe some kind of check you have to do, but doesn't deliver any license. It would just deliver advices, and the occasion for government to determine which family is "risky", and has to be helped by a "social worker" (how do you call that ? In France we say "assistante sociale"... Do you even have that in the U.S. ? I know your government isn't such a helper...).
Yes it's still a little "big brother's watching you", but at least someone else wouldn't decide for you if you can have a child or not !

Anonymous said...

not everyone is emotionally/mentally capable of raising a child.
I don't think it's unfair to say that they shouldn't have children.

I have no clue how you would enforce this though.

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